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July 29, 2013

Time for Farmers and Ranchers to Bring the Heat

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

Farmers and ranchers plan to let their members of Congress feel the heat of their frustration while their home for the August recess. American Farm Bureau public policy director Dale Moore explains how and why in this story from AFBF’s Johnna Miller.
Miller:It’s getting hot out in the countryside. Not just because of the weather, but because farmers and ranchers nationwide are growing more and more frustrated with the stagnation on Capitol Hill. As members of Congress prepare to head to their home districts for the August recess, Farm Bureau members across the country plan to turn up the heat on their representatives.
Moore:We’re going to be working throughout the month of August to bring the heat to, let them know how frustrated we are and hopefully we’ll see some results when they get back here in September.
Miller:Dale Moore is in charge of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest farm organization. He says their members are fed up with the roadblocks that are keeping three of their biggest legislative priorities from getting done.
Moore:Basically it boils down to politics. As we look at particularly three of our key issues: the farm bill, agricultural labor and waterways improvement, we’ve seen the progress but we’ve encountered those political speed bumps on further progress. And frankly our farmers and ranchers are getting frustrated.
Miller:First, there’s the farm bill, which has passed the Senate, but not the House.
Moore:It’s not just about commodity programs. It covers conservation, rural development, nutrition, a number of other issues. It expires at the end of September. We’re a week away from the August recess, no congressional action activity, at least on the legislative front during August. We come back after Labor Day we’ve got what, two, three weeks at most in September to get a bill done. Getting a farm bill done is important simply for the certainty it provides to producers. If I’m trying to find out what’s going on in conservation, if I’m trying to take advantage of some of the trade programs, I don’t know where to turn right now because I don’t know what we’re looking at down the road.
Miller:Then there’s immigration reform, which is a big deal for farmers because the Senate version also includes important improvements for the agricultural labor program.
Moore:It is the need for agriculture to have a sufficient labor force to meet its work needs, whether it’s harvesting seasonal crops, particularly fruits and vegetables, or year-round assistance particularly on dairies and some of the poultry enterprises. They need those workers and unfortunately the domestic workforce is either not available to them or they’re simply not interested in taking those jobs.
Miller:And finally the Water Resources Development Act, known as WRDA.
Moore:When you take a look at the goods and services that are important to agriculture, 60 percent of the corn supply moves to end-use destinations, whether it’s an export market or a processing facility, on river transportation. Some of the locks and dams that make the river transportation work haven’t seen an upgrade in 40, 50, 60 or some of them almost 100 years.
Miller:Moore says the point of this “Bring the Heat” campaign is to make sure that while members of Congress are in their home districts, they hear a clear message from their farm and ranch constituents.
Moore:I need you to go back to Washington and let folks know that we’re tired of this, we’re frustrated with the political process that seems to get tangled up on things, that impedes the progress. For three of our priority issues all to be tied up it’s time that you feel the heat that we’re feeling. We want you to share that heat when you go back to Washington. We need to break the logjam and get it done.
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
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