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December 28, 2009

A LOOK BACK AT 2009

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

 
ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT IN 2009.  WHAT WILL THE HISTORY BOOKS OF THE FUTURE SAY ABOUT THIS YEAR?  HERE ARE SOME OF THE BIG STORIES FOR U.S. AGRICULTURE.  

AFBF’S JOHNNA MILLER REPORTS.


MILLER: AS 2009 COMES TO A CLOSE, A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL LIKELY BE GLAD TO SEE IT GO.  IT’S BEEN A TOUGH YEAR AND U.S. AGRICULTURE WAS NOT IMMUNE TO THE CHALLENGES. AMERICAN FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT BOB STALLMAN TOOK A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF AGRICULTURE'S BIG THE BIG STORIES FOR 2009. TOPPING HIS LIST?
BOB STALLMAN: (AFBF PRESIDENT) I THINK THE WEATHER EXTREMES MAYBE THAT WE EXPERIENCED THIS YEAR, WHETHER IT WAS EARLY SPRING WEATHER THAT WAS TOO WET IN SOME AREAS, WE HAD ONGOING DROUGHTS IN CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS AND THEN THE FALL HARVEST WEATHER TURNED UNSEASONABLY COOL AND WET.  THAT PREVENTED A LOT OF HARVEST FROM OCCURRING ON SCHEDULE AND THEN CREATED A LOT OF QUALITY AND YIELD PROBLEMS IN PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.  SO IT WAS REALLY KIND OF AN UNUSUAL WEATHER YEAR FOR U.S. AGRICULTURE. 
MILLER: THE ECONOMIC CRISIS HIT ALL ASPECTS OF THE ECONOMY, SOME MORE THAN OTHERS. 
STALLMAN: WE HAD HOGS AND THE DAIRY INDUSTRY UNDER A LOT OF ECONOMIC STRESS.  WE HAD MUCH LOWER COMMODITY PRICES THAN WE HAD IN 2008 WHILE AT THE SAME TIME PRODUCERS WERE STILL COPING WITH HIGHER INPUT COSTS.  SO FROM AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE, WE TOOK A SIGNIFICANT DECREASE IN NET FARM INCOME, EVEN THOUGH HISTORICALLY WE STILL HAD A RELATIVELY HIGH LEVEL.  THAT CREATED A LOT OF ANXIETY FOR PRODUCERS. 
MILLER: ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS CONTINUED THEIR ATTACKS ON ANIMAL AGRICULTURE, RESULTING IN LEGISLATION AND BALLOT INITIATIVES IN SEVERAL STATES TO REGULATE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION AND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES.
STALLMAN: THE BIGGEST ISSUE WE FACE IS THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE SO FAR REMOVED FROM AGRICULTURE AND THE WAY LIVESTOCK AND THEIR MEAT IS PRODUCED THAT THEY ACCEPT THE EMOTIONAL ARGUMENTS WHICH ARE NOT FACT BASED THAT THE ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS USE TO PASS LEGISLATION TO RESTRICT THE WAY PRODUCERS RAISE ANIMALS.  WE DO CARE FOR OUR ANIMALS. WE WOULD NOT BE SUCCESSFUL OTHERWISE AND WE DO TAKE CARE OF THEIR WELFARE.  WE JUST HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB OF TELLING THAT STORY TO A PUBLIC THAT REALLY DOESN’T UNDERSTAND MUCH ABOUT PRODUCTION AGRICULTURE.   
MILLER: STALLMAN SAYS UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PROPOSED MANY NEW REGULATIONS ON AGRICULTURE.  BUT THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC THREAT MAY HAVE COME FROM CONGRESS.
STALLMAN: PROPOSED CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION IN THE FORM OF A MANDATORY CAP-AND-TRADE SCHEME TO REDUCE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS HAS BEEN FRONT AND CENTER.  A BILL PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.  IT’S ONE THAT WE OPPOSE BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD CAUSE US TO REDUCE OUR CROP ACRES IN THIS COUNTRY AND PUT THEM INTO TREES AND REDUCE OUR ABILITY TO PRODUCE FOOD.  THE BILL IS IN THE SENATE NOW AND WE ARE FIGHTING THE BATTLE IN THE SENATE TRYING TO PUT SOME COMMONSENSE PROVISIONS IN FOR AMERICAN AGRICULTURE WHERE WE DON’T PUT THIS BURDEN ON AMERICAN AGRICULTURE OF HIGHER ENERGY PRICES AND LESS ABILITY TO PRODUCE FOOD. 
MILLER: WITH THE SENATE YET TO VOTE ON THE ISSUE, CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION WILL PROBABLY BE A BIG STORY FOR 2010 AS WELL.  JOHNNA MILLER, WASHINGTON.
MILLER: WE HAVE TWO EXTRA ACTUALITIES WITH AFBF PRESIDENT BOB STALLMAN.  IN THE FIRST EXTRA ACTUALITY HE TALKS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE NATION’S ECONOMIC WOES ON U.S. AGRICULTURE. THE CUT RUNS 17 SECONDS, IN 3-2-1.
STALLMAN: WE WENT INTO THIS ECONOMIC CRISIS IN AGRICULTURE IN BETTER SHAPE FROM A DEBT TO ASSET RATIO THAN A LOT OF OTHER INDUSTRY SECTORS.  THAT HAS ALLOWED US TO WEATHER IT A LITTLE BIT BETTER, BUT YOU KNOW THAT CUSHION IS GETTING TO BE PRETTY FRAYED RIGHT NOW AND THERE’S A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY AND ANXIETY ABOUT WHAT 2010 WILL BRING. 
MILLER: IN THE SECOND EXTRA ACTUALITY STALLMAN TALKS ABOUT THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THE COURTS WHEN IT COMES TO REGULATION ON U.S. AGRICULTURE. THE CUT RUNS 19 SECONDS, IN 3-2-1.
STALLMAN: WE HAD A COUPLE OF INSTANCES THIS YEAR WHERE WE THOUGHT IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO CHALLENGE COURT RULINGS THAT PUT A NEW REGULATORY BURDEN ON AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.  FOR EXAMPLE, HAVING TO GET CLEAN WATER ACT PERMITS TO EVEN APPLY ANY CROP PROTECTANT CHEMICAL, EVEN THOUGH IT ALREADY HAS APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS, BUT HAVE TO GET A NEW PERMIT AND THAT WILL HAVE TO PLAY OUT IN THE COURTS. 
MILLER: NEWSLINE IS UPDATED MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS BY 5PM EASTERN TIME. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

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