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S P E C I A L R E P O R T ‘Foundation’ A look at Foundation events on tap for AFBF’s annual meeting, Jan. 13-16, 2013, in Nashville | 4 December 10, 2012 Vol. 91 ‘Estate taxes’ Members of Texas ranch family share their story | 3 ‘Waterways’ Farm leaders focus on improvements | 6 Stewardship, neighbor-to-neighbor farming urged The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased with the outcome of a year-long discussion of USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture on ways to promote coexistence in agriculture. The AC21 recently presented its report to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to be used as guidance to enhance working relationships among farmers growing different types of crops, specifically biotech and non-biotech crops. No. 22 FB urges presidential declaration for Mississippi River The American Farm Bureau Federation has urged President Barack Obama to issue a presidential declaration of emergency for the Mississippi River. In a recent letter to the president and top administration officials, AFBF, and nearly 20 other national organizations, said there could be an economic catastrophe in America’s heartland as soon as mid-December if the administration does not take emergency action to ensure that water levels do not fall below the level needed to support commercial navigation. Because of this year’s severe drought, waterborne commerce on the middle Mississippi River is in danger, especially now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun to implement plans to reduce the release of water to the river from dams on the upper Missouri River. “The Mississippi River is a critical national transportation artery, on which hundreds of millions of tons of essential commodities are shipped...,” stated the letter. “Substantial curtailment of navigation will effectively sever the country’s inland waterway superhighway, imperil the shipment of critical cargo for domestic consumption and for export, threaten manufac- turing industries and power generation, and risk thousands of related jobs in the Midwest.” Aside from issuing an emergency declaration, the groups requested that President Obama direct the Corps to immediately remove the rock pinnacles along the river and release enough water from the Missouri River reservoirs to preserve a nine-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River. Attached to the joint letter were letters from the governors of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, 15 U.S. senators and 62 U.S. House members urging prompt federal action on Mississippi River navigation. Slight farm bill movement as fiscal cliff dominates lawmakers’ attention Continued on Page 3 © n e w s p a p e r BEFORE THE HALLOWED HALLS and chambers of Congress empty out for the holidays, farmers and ranchers are anxious for lawmakers to pass a comprehensive five-year farm bill and stop impending capital gains tax and estate tax hikes. President Barack Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats are practically right on the money with how much they want to cut from the farm bill—between $32 billion and $35 billion—but they remain far apart on which farm programs should be reduced. However, a recent meeting between Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats could signal progress. The meeting involved Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senate Agriculture Committee chair; Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), ranking Republican on the committee; Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), House Agriculture Committee chairman; and Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. Last week’s discussion, which reportedly focused on resolving differences over the commodity title, came about a week after Roberts said he was willing to drop his opposition to target price supports, which are expected to be included in the final commodity title, along with the Senate’s shallow loss revenue insurance option. Though critical to growers and consumers alike, the farm bill has not been a focus of this lame duck. Instead, lawmakers are going back and forth over how to avoid what’s known as the fiscal cliff, a series of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1. Many farmers are hoping that lawmakers will see passage of a five-year farm bill—with its $20 billion-plus in savings—as one way to keep from going over the economic precipice. Stabenow is one legislator who won’t need any convincing. “The farm bill is the only bipartisan deficit reduction bill that passed the Senate this year,” she said. “It’s only natural it should be part of a larger deficit reduction agreement.” The House version, too, although not passed in that chamber, provides considerable savings. Farm bill Continued on Page 3


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