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January 13, 2013

Stallman on Likely Big Issues for AFBF in 2013

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

Thousands of members of the nation’s largest farm organization are gathered for the American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Nashville. AFBF President Bob Stallman talked to reporters about what will likely be big issues for the organization in the year ahead. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has the story.
Miller:About 6,000 members of the American Farm Bureau Federation are kicking off the new year at the 94th annual meeting of the organization in Nashville. AFBF President Bob Stallman says they are gearing up for the challenges of the year ahead.
Stallman:There’s a great deal of concern about how this drought is going to play out for 2013.Climatologists are talking about persistence and expansion. Those aren’t good words when you’re talking about a drought. So I think there’s some anxiety level there. I think there’s a little broader anxiety level about the volatility that exists in the markets now and how quickly the markets can be affected by non-fundamental elements: what happens to the price of oil, what do the funds do with their positions on the commodities market, all those things.
Miller:Stallman says the fact that this is not an election year may help get a full farm bill through Congress…instead of making due with another one-year extension.
Stallman:The solution was not perfect for 2013, but at least farmers have some certainty about what they’re dealing with. They still have uncertainty about what they’re dealing with for the longer term and that’s why it’s going to be very critical for us to move forward as quickly as possible and get the full five-year farm bill done.
Miller:But he admits the nation’s fiscal issues will likely mean many will try to further cut farm program funding.
Stallman:I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for those that want to come back and try to strip some money out of the farm bill budget. And we’ll accept our fair share of reduction, but we’re not going to want to be the piggybank for those who somehow think agriculture doesn’t have enough support to maintain funding anymore.
Miller:Stallman also thinks the climate is right for Congress to address immigration and farm labor issues. 
Stallman:We have to do something and I think there’s a growing awareness of that and I think the political climate has moved to the point where there may be an opportunity from the political standpoint to have that discussion and move forward. I certainly hope so.
Miller:That’s just one of many things Farm Bureau members will be working to accomplish in 2013. Johnna Miller, Nashville.
Miller:Newsline will be updated Sunday through Tuesday with new stories from our annual meeting in Nashville. Thank you for listening.

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