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Farm Bureau Calls for Action on Farm Bill, Immigration

NEW ORLEANS, January 14, 2008 – The farm bills approved by both houses of Congress provide the kind of programs America’s farmers want, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said during his address at AFBF’s 89th annual convention.

“Our members have made it clear they support a continuation of the three-legged safety net of direct support, counter-cyclical payments and marketing loans,” said Stallman. “This is what we heard – loud and abundantly clear – and this is what our policy supports.”

Now is the time for action on the legislation, which also includes increased funding for conservation programs and new money for research, trade, nutrition, and marketing for fruits and vegetables, Stallman explained.

“Let’s get this farm bill done,” he said.

Delivering his eighth annual address as president of the nation’s largest farm group, Stallman said Farm Bureau continues to support timely action on immigration reform as well. He noted, “Up to $9 billion in agricultural production and the nation’s food security is at risk if immigration laws are not reformed. Either we can make it possible for temporary foreign workers to help us grow food in the U.S. or they will stay in their country and grow food for the U.S.”

“Many inside and outside of Congress say immigration reform is too controversial to touch in an election year, but American agriculture has waited years for a solution to our workforce challenges,” he said.

Regarding international trade, Stallman said securing a solid agreement for agriculture in the global trade talks is essential. “We will not settle for just any agreement,” he said.

“Trade talks are like the family potluck dinner,” he said. “Other countries should not expect a meal if they don’t bring something to the table. There will be no more free lunches”

Noting the recently approved U.S.-Peru free trade agreement was a victory for agriculture, Stallman said Farm Bureau will continue to push for similar agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, once the beef issue is resolved. Korea has imported little beef from the U.S. under its restrictive import regime.

Stallman also outlined Farm Bureau’s work in the legal arena, including a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of dust on farms and efforts to defend private property rights. In addition, he highlighted a new initiative to “preserve our social license to raise animals for food” and assure consumers about the safety of the nation’s food supply.

More than 5,000 Farm Bureau members from across the country are gathered in New Orleans for their annual meeting.

Video and audio of Stallman’s annual address is available at http://farmbureau.feedroom.com.

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 316-6377
tracyg@fb.org
Mace Thornton
(540) 846-0263
macet@fb.org