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December 31, 2012

Look Ahead at Big Ag Issues in 2013

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

As we start a new year, American Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Mark Maslyn looks at the issues that are likely to be a big deal for farmers and ranchers in 2013. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has the story.
Miller:With the “fiscal cliff” looming, it’s easy to overlook all the other big issues facing the country in the year ahead. But American Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Mark Maslyn says farmers and ranchers are starting to look ahead at the big issues facing agriculture in 2013.
Maslyn:I think looking ahead, our priorities for 2013 will be influenced by the fiscal and budgetary uncertainties that continue to face in Washington and the challenging political environment in Congress right now.
Miller:With the current Congress set to go down in American history as the most unproductive since the 1940s, many wonder if there will be more compromise in the new Congress. Maslyn says farmers and ranchers want to see lawmakers get to work on issues like the 2013 farm bill, tax reform and immigration.
Maslyn:Farmers and ranchers depend on foreign-born labor to handle our planting and harvesting needs. We need a reliable system. We need a system that is affordable. We need one where workers can come as they’re needed and is predictable for the employer. That will be the challenge, is ensuring that the agricultural component is part of a larger package. There was a time when we thought agriculture would lead the larger package through Congress. I don’t think that’s the case. I think it will be the other way around and we’ll have to make sure that a fix to our farm labor needs is part of a larger package. But I do believe the political environment is improving for immigration reform overall.
Miller:Maslyn says there will also be a push to protect and restore some things that are threatened, like the nation’s locks and dams system and the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Maslyn:There are groups outside of agriculture particularly in the petroleum industry and the retail food industry that view the Renewable Fuels Standard as a threat to their industry and they are spending a lot of money to launch a campaign against the Renewable Fuels Standard and to have it repealed. As a country we’re dependent upon petroleum sources for 90 percent of our motor fuels. We’re not better off as a country if we have 100 percent. We’re going to fight to make sure the Renewable Fuels Standard is retained.
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:We have two extra actualities with AFBF Public Policy Director Mark Maslyn. In the first extra actuality he talks about the need to work on our waterways system that has helped us efficiently move goods all over the country and to the rest of the world. The cut runs 13 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Maslyn:The waterway infrastructure, specifically our lock and dam system, is in need of repair and more money. It’s in need of more resources and investment to upgrade that infrastructure and also the size of the locks so they’ll handle bigger barges.
Miller:In the second extra actuality Maslyn talks about the Environmental Protection Agency trying to take power away from state and local governments. The cut runs 19 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Maslyn:Efforts to expand the scope and the reach of the Clean Water Act, taking authority from states and local governments and giving it to Washington, D.C., and particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s concerning to us. The Clean Water Act has been very successful over the years and one of the reasons is the partnership between state and local governments and the federal government. We want to make sure that continues.
Miller:Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm Eastern time. Thank you for listening.

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