With just a few short weeks left in 2018, Farm Bureau is hard at work to see a strong policy finish for agriculture.
This year started with solid promises for agriculture from our lawmakers. Even this week, we’re seeing Congress and the administration make good on their 2018 resolutions. Our President has taken a real interest in how decisions in Washington affect farmers and ranchers, beginning with his address to us at AFBF’s Annual Convention in Nashville last January. From Secretary Perdue and Vice President Pence to President Trump himself, we have leaders who understand how important farmers and ranchers are to our country, and who genuinely want to do all they can to help us succeed. Although we still have uncertainties when it comes to markets and access to a legal, stable workforce, we are heading into 2019 on a path toward stronger trade relationships, clearer regulations, and stronger farm risk management tools.
Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Ag Committees, the 2018 farm bill is nearing the finish line. We need to get this farm bill done before the clock runs out on this Congress, so farmers and ranchers can access the programs they need to protect their businesses in uncertain times—and continue to feed our nation and keep us strong. I encourage all of you to join with us in calling on your lawmakers to get the farm bill done in 2018!
The spotlight has certainly fallen on agriculture when it comes to trade this year. For many of us, it’s hard to recall a time when so many headlines have focused on farmers and ranchers. I’m grateful to all of you who have shared your stories and explained the importance of agricultural trade. Thanks to all of us working together, farmers have taken a seat at the table with the Vice President and President, and the administration is putting agriculture at the top of its list when it comes to negotiating new trade deals. We’ve seen this already with the new agreement with Canada and Mexico. The President and his team took a strong stand for dairy improvements, and now we’re heading into 2019 with a free, and fair, deal with our North American neighbors. Farmers and ranchers are eager to fully restore markets we’ve lost to tariffs this year, and we’re keeping a close watch to see what’s next with China and other trading partners.
Last but certainly not least, we are relieved to be one step closer to having common-sense regulations with EPA’s new clean water rule. Farm Bureau led the way in calling for EPA and the Corps of Engineers to ditch the unlawful 2015 WOTUS rule and write clear rules that don’t require a team of lawyers to navigate. Farmers and ranchers should be able to look out on their land and know what’s a federally regulated waterway and what’s not. Clear rules will protect our ability to grow safe and sustainable food for our country, while preserving the land, air and water we all depend on. We are hopeful the proposed new rule will do just that, and our team here at Farm Bureau is reviewing it to ensure it does. We’ve made progress on other regulations, too, such as delaying a transportation rule that would make it more difficult to get livestock and fish to market and eliminating a duplicative, unnecessary pesticide regulation. Turning back the huge tide of over-regulation will take time, and we still have a lot of work to do. But we have made great progress over the past year.
If 2018 is any indicator, 2019 will be a busy time for agriculture. I trust we are all resolved and ready for the challenge, as we pray for the Lord to bless our efforts in working together for a stronger farm economy and bountiful new year.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.