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January 30, 2014

President Obama Hits Key Ag Issues In State Of The Union

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

President Obama covered a range of issues during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, many of those important to the agriculture industry. Seanica Otterby has the story.
Otterby:The American Farm Bureau welcomes President Obama’s comments on tax reform. AFBF Public Policy Executive Director Dale Moore says tax reform must be comprehensive.
Moore:Any tax reform proposal or legislative effort that does not consider the individual tax code more likely has a chance to hurt farmers and ranchers. We want to protect the farmer and rancher business tax deductions, but at the same time, we need to make sure that those individual tax reforms are part of that package as well.
Otterby:The President also called on Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority - which Moore says is important to agricultural exports and the rural economy.
Moore:We need the Trade Promotion Authority in order to give the Executive Branch the assurance that they need when they go to the negotiating table and say yes, if we can get this deal, can’t promise you that Congress is going to approve it, but we do know that Congress will not change it.
Otterby:The President’s call for action on waterways transportation infrastructure updates directly ties in with domestic trade issues. Moore says the legislation currently in a House and Senate conference would give agriculture more certainty.
Moore:It’s one thing to work on trade to get an importing country to allow our goods and service to land, but if we don’t have the facilities domestically, we’ve lost again on the trade front.
Otterby:Immigration reform also is important to the American Farm Bureau, and President Obama has called for passage of this reform. The key component in this reform for AFBF is ag labor reform.
Moore:You don’t have the ability to wait a week, or two, or three until you get the workers you need, and it costs farmers a lot of money when they don’t have the labor they need, but it also impacts consumers, either by driving up the costs of food, or by reducing availability in terms of a steady, reliable supply of fruits and vegetables.
Otterby:Moore says immigration reform is one of the most important issues on the table for Congress this year - and AFBF hopes it will head to conference early this year. Seanica Otterby, Washington.

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