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Groups call on Congress to pass new farm bill this year | 4 February 20, 2012 Vol. 91
California Farm Bureau calls for practical, effective solutions | 3
Farm Bureau members saved millions last year on purchases from Grainger | 8
McDonald’s reaches agreement with animal rights group McDonald’s is moving toward becoming the latest fast-food chain to require its pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation stalls for sows, a move that could have wide implications for America’s pork producers.
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Farmers, ranchers encouraged to support agricultural youth labor, share their stories As the Labor Department reviews the approximately 18,000 comments on proposed youth labor rules that would negatively affect the way families operate their farms and ranches, congressional lawmakers still want—and need—to hear from growers. A newly launched website, Keep Families Farming, allows individual farmers, as well as organizations, to register their concerns about DOL’s youth labor proposal to amend regulations
concerning agricultural jobs that could be off-limits to minors. Despite the department’s recent announcement that it is going to re-propose the “parental exemption” part of the rule, farmers and ranchers still have reason to be worried about the proposed changes, which would significantly affect the way families work their operations. Missouri hog farmer Chris Chinn recently explained to a House Small Business Subcommit-
tee how the DOL rules would drastically limit the jobs her children (aged 14 and 10) could do on her and husband’s own farm, and especially their grandparents’ farm. “A farmer’s first-hand reaction to these proposed regulations is how negatively they will affect farm families,” said Chinn, a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau’s board of directors. “They strip away the ability of youth to Youth labor Continued on Page 3
House, Senate surface transportation bills on hold for President’s Day recess As work on surface transportation reauthorization bills starts and stalls in the House and Senate, growers are urging lawmakers to give a green light to provisions that will keep them, and the farm and ranch goods they transport, on the road. In a recent letter to lawmakers, the American Farm Bureau Federation joined more than half a dozen other farm and livestock organizations in calling for a transportation measure that brings clarity and consistency to federal transportation laws. “Even though we are not forhire drivers, we go to great lengths to make sure we comply with all safety standards and transportation laws,” the groups wrote last month. “We need uniformity and reciprocity of farm exemptions across state lines, and we strongly oppose any federal requirement of commercial driver’s licenses for farmers and ranchers.” Both the House and the Senate appeared ready last week to take up their separate surface transportation reauthorization bills, but roadblocks in the form of controversial amendments and partisan disagreement brought things to a halt. Unable to move the bill before the weeklong President’s Day recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is committed to getting the Senate reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP21) (S. 1813), passed in March. Growers want to make sure the Senate legislation includes an amendment offered by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow farmers and ranchers who live near state borders to transport their products to the closest processing facilities, even if it may be in a neighboring state.
photo courtesy of kentucky farm bureau
AS CONGRESS WORKS on reauthorizing surface transportation programs, farmers and ranchers are calling for a bill that brings clarity and consistency to federal transportation laws and provides for uniformity and reciprocity of farm exemptions across state lines. The House transportation bill (H.R. 7) contains Farm Bureausupported provisions that would clarify the hours of service exemption for agriculture and exempt farm vehicles, including the individual operating the vehicle, from any requirement related to commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing and hours of service.
Another important provision would allow farmers and custom harvesters with a Class A commercial drivers license to transport up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel without having to obtain a hazardous material endorsement if the service vehicle is clearly Bills Continued on Page 8
February 20, 2012
PNTR for Russia tops agricultural trade agenda By David Salmonsen U.S. agricultural exports set a record last year at more than $136 billion. The world will continue to demand large amounts of U.S. farm products, and USDA has projected this year’s exports to be near last year’s, at $132 billion. However, maintaining export values and volumes to benefit U.S. farmers and ranchers requires constant efforts to expand market opportunities and remove government-imposed tariff and non-tariff barriers. The following initiatives and trends will be on the agricultural trade agenda in 2012. Russia was invited to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) last December after completing a WTO accession agreement. Congress must grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia in order to guarantee U.S. access to the market-opening and legal commitments that are part of Russia’s accession agreement. PNTR makes permanent the trade status the U.S. now extends to Russia each year. The agreement Russia negotiated with the U.S. and other
WTO member nations includes improved tariff and sanitary provisions particularly affecting U.S. beef, pork and poultry exports. In 2011, the United States was the third-largest supplier in the Russian market, where imports of U.S. food and agricultural products reached $1.36 billion. Achieving PNTR for Russia is Farm Bureau’s trade priority in 2012. Congressional passage of three trade agreements last October now leads to the work of implementing the promised tariff reductions on U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The $2.4 billion in additional trade can only become reality when these nations put into place the agreements achieved after so much time and effort. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation aims to eliminate tariff- and non-tariff-barriers to trade between the participating countries, which include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malay-
sia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. Japan, Canada and Mexico have expressed interest in joining the TPP. The addition of these countries would increase the trade opportunities resulting from the negotiations. Japan, Canada and Mexico should participate in the TPP in the same manner as the current parties: they must recognize and accept that the TPP is a comprehensive agreement and not try to exclude certain sectors. Japan is our fourth-largest agricultural export destination, with more than $13 billion in sales in 2011. Japan has many restrictive policies against certain agricultural imports that it will need to address in the negotiation. Canada is our second-largest agricultural export destination, with over $18 billion in sales in 2011. As a major agricultural exporter, Canada should be a strong ally on efforts within the TPP to expand market access in agricultural goods and support our
efforts to strengthen sciencebased sanitary standards. Mexico is our third-largest agricultural export market, with over $17 billion in sales in 2011. Mexico and the U.S. will benefit by having Mexico become a TPP partner and share in improved standards for agricultural trade and expanded market access with TPP partners. China became the United States’ No. 1 agricultural export destination in 2011, with over $20 billion in sales. Continued demand from China for a range of products, primarily soybeans and cotton with growing demand for meats and corn, will keep China in the forefront as an agricultural customer. The Doha Round of WTO negotiations, a fixture on the trade agenda over the last decade, will be missing in 2012. After trade ministers from WTO member countries last December acknowledged that a new direction must be taken for the stalled talks, this will be a year of discussion about, rather than negotiation on, new rules for world trade. David Salmonsen is senior director of congressional relations for AFBF.
For the price of a burrito By Blake Hurst The Chipotle ad shown during the Grammy Awards has caused quite a stir. The animated ad starts out with a farmer, a pig and some cows—all happy, content and mercifully free of science. Science comes along and things fall apart. The animals move indoors, into large buildings. Big trucks appear. Cow drugs, pig antibiotics and all sorts of technological evils are used as Willie Nelson sings, “Science and progress do not speak as loud as my heart.” Life is somehow better when pigs suffer from cold, mud and heat. By dining at Chipotle, you can improve the world, all for the price of a burrito. The Chipotle website assures us that they only make burritos from the happiest of pigs. How a pig’s happiness is determined is not described, although I can’t help but picture one of those focus groups. In my imagination, the pigs are provided with response meters designed for the cloven of hoof, and follow-up interviews by Wilbur the pig would, it seems to me, be
necessary to root out the happiness of the pig. It occurs to me that pigs are happier in the warm and dry buildings rejected by Willie and the farmer in the ad. Whatever production method is used, the results are the same— for the pig, at least. Chipotle assures us that their pork is from pigs raised with integrity and fed a vegetarian diet, which would, one assumes, make Chipotle customers vegetarians, once removed. That seems to be an elegant solution for those who have moral questions about eating meat. Let the pigs be vegetarians. The ad is a cartoon, but ideas do have consequences. In what was probably not a coincidence, McDonald’s, with the backing of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), announced the morning after the ad ran that it will require pork producers who supply McDonald’s to end the use of gestation crates. Pig farmers use gestation crates to control the amount of feed pregnant sows consume. Without the crates, aggressive hogs eat too much and often die in childbirth as a result. At the
Don Lipton, Executive Director, Public Relations Lynne Finnerty, Editor Erin Anthony, Assistant Editor Phyllis Brown, Assistant Editor Dick Lobb, Contributing Writer Sarah Bittner, Contributing Writer
February 20, 2012 Vol. 91
same time, submissive animals don’t get enough to eat. When in groups, hogs fight. (Mark Bittman, writing in the New York Times, says this is nonsense. Bittman should get in a lot with a pen full of sows at feeding time and report back to Times readers—if he can.) Gestation crates are expensive, and farmers use them only because they protect their animals from each other. We can’t ask pigs what they think, but I’m not sure that sows would be willing to trade more freedom for the pain of losing a fight to a 350 pound pen mate. One thing is for sure. The cost of bacon will increase. If you are HSUS, this is not a problem, but a bonus, since its long-term goal is a complete absence of meat in the American diet. For McDonald’s, this seems counterintuitive. One wonders why any restaurant chain would enter into an agreement with an organization whose goal is the complete ban of the biggest-selling item on its menu. Many of the farmers now raising hogs will leave the industry because they can’t afford to
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make the changes McDonald’s demands. The production of the vast majority of pork will be left with the huge integrators, those who have the financial muscle to make the changes that HSUS wants or the legal and economic power needed to resist those changes. Chipotle wants us to believe that they support small family farms, but Chipotle and the HSUS will hasten the movement of hog production from smaller farms to the large integrators that can afford to raise pigs in the politically correct manner.
Blake Hurst, of Westboro, Mo., is the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.
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February 20, 2012
Wenger calls for practical, effective farm labor solutions Farmers’ and ranchers’ labor woes require a cost-effective solution that recognizes the value of people who work in U.S. agriculture, Paul Wenger, California Farm Bureau Federation president, recently told a House Judiciary subcommittee. U.S. growers hire more than a million people to work on their farms and ranches and in their orchards, dairies, nurseries and other types of operations. According to some figures, more than half of those workers are not authorized to work in this country. Some analysts say 70 percent or more of the farm workforce is unauthorized. Making E-Verify mandatory for all employers, as a bill approved last year by the subcommittee would, is not the way to go, Wenger told lawmakers. E-Verify is an Internet-based program that lets employers check a job applicant’s identification against Social Security Administration and Homeland Security Department records to confirm employment eligibility. “E-Verify without a workable, economical way to ensure a legal agricultural workforce will be a disaster for American agriculture,” he said. Wenger said there is little mystery about what mandatory E-Verify would do to the agricultural workforce. “We have ample exper-
Any solution to illegal immigration must be practical and allow current agricultural workers, many of whom have worked in this country for years and become part of their communities, to step out of the shadows to do the work that is so important to feeding our nation and the world, said California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger at a congressional hearing on immigration reform. ience from Alabama and Georgia where there is not an available domestic labor force for our industry, including prisoners and parolees.” Wenger emphasized that adequately addressing agriculture’s labor problems means finding a place for the unauthorized workers in this country, or finding a way to replace them. “Any solution must be practical and allow current workers to step
out of the shadows to do the work that is so important to feeding our nation and the world,” Wenger said, especially long-tenured and highly skilled employees and those with close family members who are U.S. citizens. A workable agricultural immigration program, he said, must recognize that “many of our workforce want and need the ability to come to the U.S., work on our farms and
ranches, and return to their home country.” Although few California farmers or ranchers have been able to use the H-2A program, they do support improvements to it. Yet, even if the program could be substantially overhauled, it alone could not stabilize the farm labor situation, Wenger told the subcommittee. “To ensure our industry a future workforce we need a new program model that is more flexible, scalable and market-oriented,” Wenger said. Key to the success of such a program is less interference from government at the state and local levels. Biometric visas and incentives for workers to abide by the terms of their visas and return home when the work is done are essential, too. “The closer a new program comes to replicating the way the farm labor force needs to move among employers and crops based on seasons and the weather, the more likely it will be able to meet the needs of farmers and farm employees,” Wenger told the subcommittee. Noting that each on-farm job in California creates three jobs, Wenger cautioned that without a legal agricultural workforce, the state would be deprived of an important economic engine and the national economy would be jeopardized.
Farmers, ranchers encouraged to support ag youth labor Continued from page 1 work in agriculture, and the desire and goal of parents to pass on to our children the traditions and values we hold.” Even routine farm chores, such as driving tractors, milking cows, cutting weeds and building or repairing fence would likely be considered illegal unless the farm on which the youth worked was wholly owned by his or her parents, explained Chinn, who grew up doing farm chores on her grandparents’ farm. The department claims its rule would strengthen prohibitions against youths doing types of agricultural work deemed particu-
larly hazardous, such as working with farm animals and pesticides, or working in and around grain bins and manure pits, among other things. Under the department’s proposal, youths could be prevented from working for grandparents or aunts and uncles. If two brothers own a farm jointly in an LLC, neither farmer’s child could work because, according to DOL, the child would be working for the LLC, not one of the parents. The new rule could also prevent young people from doing other types of work that isn’t directly agricultural, but connected to agriculture, such as jobs connected with grain storage.
“Let’s be clear, no one wants children working when they should be in school or working in jobs that are too dangerous for their maturity or skill level,” said Paul Schlegel, American Farm Bureau Federation labor specialist. “But the department has stretched the list of jobs that are off-limits well beyond tasks that are truly hazardous. Moreover, a problem with the proposed rule is that it doesn’t recognize how American agriculture works today.” Through the Keep Families Farming website, www.keepfamilies farming.com, individuals can tell their own stories and file comments. In addition, the site allows
organizations to register their support of the effort. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) plans to use the website’s stories and comments when he meets with DOL officials and as the debate on the issue plays out on Capitol Hill. AFBF strongly supports this effort and urges state Farm Bureaus to list themselves as supporting organizations and to encourage their members to file their own stories and comments about how the rule will affect them.
McDonald’s reaches agreement with animal rights group Continued from page 1 In an announcement made jointly with the animal rights group Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the world’s largest restaurant company said it would require its U.S. pork suppliers to “outline their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls.” The company said it will take further steps later this year. “McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future,” said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management. “There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows. McDonald’s wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our supply chain.”
HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said his group had pressured McDonald’s for years to ban the metal stalls used to house pregnant sows. “This is a bit of an earthquake in the world of the pork industry, with aftershocks that will be felt throughout the entire food retail sector,” Pacelle said. The National Pork Producers Council said McDonald’s move was “an opportunity for the pork industry to respond to its customers,” adding that it “stands ready to offer its assistance to McDonald’s as it assesses sow housing.” NPPC added that the American Veterinary Medical Association conducted an “extensive review” of the scientific literature and “determined that both
individual sow housing and group housing can provide for the well-being of sows.” Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pork producer, plans to replace gestation stalls with group housing on its companyowned farms by the end of 2017. Burger King says it gives purchasing preference to pork suppliers who have eliminated stalls. And Chipotle Mexican Grill says that it sources pork from suppliers that never use “tight confining pens.” McDonald’s is able to bring about change in pork industry operations because of its purchasing volume, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told the Dow Jones news agency, adding that he suspects the company “sees
this as a market opportunity.” McDonald’s estimates that it buys about 1 percent of total U.S. pork production for its menu offerings featuring bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage and pork. “Farm Bureau respects the right of businesses like McDonald’s to make decisions that are in the best interest of their company, suppliers and customers,” said Kelli Ludlum, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We hope that McDonald’s will conduct a thorough review, based on the expertise of animal scientists and veterinarians and considering the practicality of livestock producers, in assessing housing systems that provide the best welfare for sows.”
Congress Expiration of tax cuts looms for farmers, ranchers As most Americans prepare their income tax returns for 2011, they face a tax hike at the end of this year. Even if Congress doesn’t take another vote, everyone’s taxes will go up by about 5 percent. That’s because reduced income tax rates that were signed into law in 2001 and extended in 2003 expire this December. Individual income tax brackets that now range from 10 percent for lower-wage earners to 35 percent for the top earners will increase to 15 percent at the low end and 39.6 percent for those in the top tax bracket. The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the extension of lower income taxes as well as other tax provisions that will expire this year. “Farmers and ranchers plow much of their income back into operating or improving their farms,” explained Pat Wolff, AFBF tax specialist. “If everyone’s taxes go up, many farmers won’t have as much money to reinvest in their operations and that will have ripple effects throughout the economy, especially in rural areas.” For farmers, that means thousands more dollars paid to the
Internal Revenue Service instead of buying a tractor from the local farm implement dealership or building a new barn, according to Wolff. For others, it means less money to spend at the grocery store, restaurants, car dealerships and malls, just when the economy is starting to show signs of life. To fuel economic growth, Wolff says, Congress doesn’t need to pass a new economic stimulus package. “Just by extending several current but expiring tax provisions, it will free up money to be spent throughout the economy. That keeps stores selling and factories humming.” Income tax rates affect all taxpayers, but other expiring provisions will have a disproportionate impact on farmers. Estate tax rates will rise to as much as 55 percent, from 35 percent, at the end of this year. The current $5 million individual exemption from estate taxes will plunge to $1 million. With 84 percent of farm and ranch assets tied up in land instead of piled up in bank accounts, farmers have few options if they need to generate cash to pay the estate tax when the family patriarch or matriarch dies. “When the tax on an agricultur-
al business exceeds cash on hand, surviving family partners can be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their businesses operating,” explained Wolff. “This not only can cripple a farm or ranch, but it also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.” President Obama wants to set the estate tax rate at 45 percent with a $3.5 million exemption per person, parameters he included in his 2013 budget proposal. AFBF favors an extension of the current 35 percent rate and $5 million exemption. But whatever Congress comes up with, Wolff says, it needs to be permanent. “Continual changes in estate tax policy and looming expirations of estate tax relief have made estate planning difficult,” she explained. “When you add in the variables of changing asset values and family situations, it makes it nearly impossible to guarantee that estate planning will protect a family farm. Farmers and ranchers need permanent estate tax relief.” The president’s budget also would raise the top capital gains tax rate to 20 percent, up from 15 percent. The capital gains tax for those in lower
income tax brackets would go from zero to 15 percent under Obama’s proposal. While billionaire financial tycoons such as Warren Buffett mainly pay the capital gains tax on their earnings from trading stocks, farmers and ranchers usually end up paying the tax when they sell their land. There’s been a lot of media focus lately on how someone like Buffett can pay less in taxes than his middle-income secretary, and even Buffett is calling for Congress to increase the capital gains tax to ensure the rich pay their fair share. However, according to Wolff, raising the capital gains tax has a different impact in farm country. “For a farmer or rancher, land is that person’s retirement account. If you increase the tax owed when the land is sold, you’re just taking money that he or she needs for retirement, and you’re creating a disincentive to sell land to beginning farmers who can’t pay a higher price to cover a retiring farmer’s capital gains taxes. We’re not talking about the Warren Buffetts of the world, here. We’re talking Tax cuts Continued on Page 8
Groups call on Congress to pass new farm bill this year A diverse coalition of agricultural, environmental and rural development groups is calling for Congress not to delay and to pass a new farm bill this year. Farmers need a safety net and the farm bill provides resources to prevent hunger and create jobs, the groups wrote last week to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. “A temporary extension of current policy creates tremendous uncertainty while serving to further none of these needs,” they said. “We, therefore, stand ready to help you in an effort to pass a full, comprehensive reauthorization of the farm bill this year, without needless delay or disruption.” The unique coalition of 84 groups includes the American Farm Bureau Federation and several national commodity groups, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, Slow Food USA and the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The fact that this very diverse group of organizations is willing to hold hands in calling for Congress to complete action on a new farm bill this year just shows how important the farm bill is across a wide spectrum of policy objec-
tives, interests and programs,” explained AFBF farm policy specialist Dale Moore. Despite the singular focus implied by its informal name, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act authorizes nutrition, conservation, rural development, research and energy programs, in addition to farm programs and crop insurance. With the current farm bill expiring at the end of this year, development of a new farm bill will occur as Congress grapples with a huge federal deficit and in the midst of the presidential and congressional election season. Some think that the chances of passing a new farm bill this year are not good and an extension will be needed. However, putting off the farm bill until next year likely would result in less funding for a whole range of programs that groups from the Community Food Security Coalition to the National Corn Growers Association, both of which signed onto the letter, consider priorities for the people they serve. To better meet farmers’ risk management needs while working within the expected budget limitations likely to be imposed
on the next farm bill, AFBF has proposed replacing direct farm payments, which nearly all agricultural interest groups recognize are politically endangered, and creating a deep-loss protection program that works with crop insurance to allow farmers to tailor their individual level of protection against a collapse in crop yields and/or prices. In a recent question-and-answer exchange with farmpolicy.com, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that Farm Bureau’s proposal is compatible with the committee’s priorities and the fiscal challenges that lawmakers face. The committee plans to hold five farm bill hearings over the next two months. Stabenow, meanwhile, disagrees with President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal, released Feb. 13, which would reduce crop insurance funding. The proposal also would eliminate direct payments. “I am encouraged the president agrees that direct payments are an indefensible program of the past, but do not agree with further cuts to crop insurance, which is a critical risk management tool,” Stabenow said in a news release.
“Farming is a high risk business and we don’t want farmers and other small businesses going under because [of] a few days of bad weather—it jeopardizes the economy and the safety of our national food supply,” she added. The president’s proposal, which is merely a policy statement and does not have any effect on program funding unless Congress goes along, would reduce reimbursements to crop insurance providers, cap administrative expenses and cut the crop insurance premium subsidy to save about $7.5 billion over the next decade. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) also spoke out in opposition to the plan, saying it “threatens the integrity of the [crop insurance] program itself” and ignores opportunities for savings from consolidating conservation programs and closing loopholes in nutrition spending. Nutrition programs comprise 80 percent of farm bill spending. AFBF supports consolidating duplicative conservation programs and making the administration of nutrition programs more efficient rather than cutting nutrition benefits.
February 20, 2012
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AFBF: Time to fix education funding flaw The All Children Are Equal (ACE) Act (H.R. 2485) corrects a major flaw related to number weighting for disadvantaged students and should be included in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reauthorization, the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement submitted last week to the House Education and Workforce Committee. Currently, a weighted formula is used to allocate Title I funds for the education of disadvantaged students under NCLB, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Intended to send funds to school districts with a high concentration of poverty, the formula systematically discriminates against the school districts it was intended to benefit— rural, small town and moderatesized urban school districts with a high concentration of poverty. “The number weighting formula favors certain districts, typically large, central city and suburban districts with large numbers of low-income children but relatively low poverty percentages,” explained RJ Karney, AFBF education specialist. “Smaller cities and rural districts with higher poverty rates
force Committee has divided the NCLB reauthorization into two bills, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) and the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989). Farm Bureau is encouraging lawmakers to roll the ACE Act into the latter. The panel held a hearing on the bills last week and is expected to begin marking them up soon. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed its NCLB reauthorization last year, but the full Senate has yet to consider the measure. The Senate bill does not address the funding formula problem.
Key points get the short end of the stick.” The ACE weighting system would be based on the district’s poverty rate, allowing districts with a higher concentration of poverty to receive their fair share of Title I funding. “The ACE Act corrects the number weighting problem by gradually reducing the weighting factors used in the number weight-
ing system,” Farm Bureau wrote in the statement. “The weighting factors would be reduced by 10 percent each year for four years.” Including the ACE Act in the NCLB reauthorization “makes the Title I formula more effective and the distribution of Title I funding more fair by treating all children equally,” Farm Bureau said. The House Education and Work-
• The current weighting formula favors large, central city and suburban dis tricts with large numbers of low income children but relatively low poverty percentages. • The ACE Act formula would be based on the district’s poverty rates, allow ing districts with a higher concentra tion of poverty to receive their fair share of funding.
For the Record
February 20, 2012
House passes dust regulation prevention bill The House late last year passed the Farm Bureau-supported Farm Dust Regulation Prevent Act (H.R. 1633). The measure passed Dec. 8 on a bipartisan vote of 268-150. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), would prevent federal regulation of natural dust occurrences and dust from normal farming operations unless there is substantial evidence of adverse health impacts. If EPA tightens the standard for particulate matter or dust, many rural areas would not meet the standard and states and local governments would place restrictions on farm operations, such as limiting when farmers could till fields or requiring that dry fields be sprayed with water before farmers could work in them, to bring them into compliance. The EPA said last fall that it would not tighten federal dust standards. However, under the Clean Air Act, EPA regularly reviews the rules for controlling particulate matter, and the American Farm Bureau Federation says that H.R. 1633 is still needed to give farmers and ranchers certainty that their normal farming activities will not be unduly regulated because of conditions that are beyond their control and for substances for which adverse health effects have not been established. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) has introduced a similar bill (S. 1528) in the Senate. AFBF favored a “yea” vote on H.R. 1633. LEGEND: — Vote in favor of the AFBF position — Vote opposing the AFBF position — not voting Name Party Alabama 1 Bonner (R) 2 Roby (R) 3 Rogers (R) 4 Aderholt (R) 5 Brooks (R) 6 Bachus (R) 7 Sewell (D)
Alaska AL Young (R) Arizona 1 Gosar (R) 2 Franks (R) 3 Quayle (R) 4 Pastor (D) 5 Schweikert (R) 6 Flake (R) 7 Grijalva (D) 8 Giffords (D) Arkansas 1 Crawford (R) 2 Griffin (R) 3 Womack (R) 4 Ross (D) California 1 Thompson (D) 2 Herger (R) 3 Lungren (R) 4 McClintock (R) 5 Matsui (D) 6 Woolsey (D) 7 Miller, George (D) 8 Pelosi (D) 9 Lee (D) 10 Garamendi (D) 11 McNerney (D) 12 Speier (D) 13 Stark (D) 14 Eshoo (D) 15 Honda (D) 16 Lofgren (D) 17 Farr (D) 18 Cardoza (D) 19 Denham (R) 20 Costa (D) 21 Nunes (R) 22 McCarthy (R) 23 Capps (D) 24 Gallegly (R) 25 McKeon (R) 26 Dreier (R) 27 Sherman (D) 28 Berman (D) 29 Schiff (D) 30 Waxman (D) 31 Becerra (D) 32 Chu (D) 33 Bass (D) 34 Roybal-Allard (D) 35 Waters (D) 36 Hahn (D) 37 Richardson (D) 38 Napolitano (D) 39 Sanchez, Linda (D) 40 Royce (R) 41 Lewis (R) 42 Miller, Gary (R) 43 Baca (D) 44 Calvert (R) 45 Bono Mack (R) 46 Rohrabacher (R)
Name Party Vote 47 Sanchez, Loretta (D) 48 Campbell (R) 49 Issa (R) 50 Bilbray (R) 51 Filner (D) 52 Hunter (R) 53 Davis (D) Colorado 1 DeGette (D) 2 Polis (D) 3 Tipton (R) 4 Gardner (R) 5 Lamborn (R) 6 Coffman (R) 7 Perlmutter (D) Connecticut 1 Larson (D) 2 Courtney (D) 3 DeLauro (D) 4 Himes (D) 5 Murphy (D) Delaware AL Carney (D) Florida 1 Miller (R) 2 Southerland (R) 3 Brown (D) 4 Crenshaw (R) 5 Nugent (R) 6 Stearns (R) 7 Mica (R) 8 Webster (R) 9 Bilirakis (R) 10 Young (R) 11 Castor (D) 12 Ross (R) 13 Buchanan (R) 14 Mack (R) 15 Posey (R) 16 Rooney (R) 17 Wilson (D) 18 Ros-Lehtinen (R) 19 Deutch (D) 20 Wasserman Schultz (D) 21 Diaz-Balart (R) 22 West (R) 23 Hastings (D) 24 Adams (R) 25 Rivera (R) Georgia 1 Kingston (R) 2 Bishop (D) 3 Westmoreland (R) 4 Johnson (D) 5 Lewis (D) 6 Price (R) 7 Woodall (R) 8 Scott, A. (R) 9 Graves (R) 10 Broun (R) 11 Gingrey (R) 12 Barrow (D) 13 Scott, D. (D) Hawaii 1 Hanabusa (D) 2 Hirono (D) Idaho 1 Labrador (R)
Name Party 2 Simpson (R)
Illinois 1 Rush (D) 2 Jackson (D) 3 Lipinski (D) 4 Gutierrez (D) 5 Quigley (D) 6 Roskam (R) 7 Davis (D) 8 Walsh (R) 9 Schakowsky (D) 10 Dold (R) 11 Kinzinger (R) 12 Costello (D) 13 Biggert (R) 14 Hultgren (R) 15 Johnson (R) 16 Manzullo (R) 17 Schilling (R) 18 Schock (R) 19 Shimkus (R) Indiana 1 Visclosky (D) 2 Donnelly (D) 3 Stutzman (R) 4 Rokita (R) 5 Burton (R) 6 Pence (R) 7 Carson (D) 8 Bucshon (R) 9 Young (R) Iowa 1 Braley (D) 2 Loebsack (D) 3 Boswell (D) 4 Latham (R) 5 King (R) Kansas 1 Huelskamp (R) 2 Jenkins (R) 3 Yoder (R) 4 Pompeo (R) Kentucky 1 Whitfield (R) 2 Guthrie (R) 3 Yarmuth (D) 4 Davis (R) 5 Rogers (R) 6 Chandler (D) Louisiana 1 Scalise (R) 2 Richmond (D) 3 Landry (R) 4 Fleming (R) 5 Alexander (R) 6 Cassidy (R) 7 Boustany (R) Maine 1 Pingree (D) 2 Michaud (D) Maryland 1 Harris (R) 2 Ruppersberger (D) 3 Sarbanes (D) 4 Edwards (D) 5 Hoyer (D) 6 Bartlett (R) 7 Cummings (D) 8 Van Hollen (D)
Name Party Massachusetts 1 Olver (D) 2 Neal (D) 3 McGovern (D) 4 Frank (D) 5 Tsongas (D) 6 Tierney (D) 7 Markey (D) 8 Capuano (D) 9 Lynch (D) 10 Keating (D) Michigan 1 Benishek (R) 2 Huizenga (R) 3 Amash (R) 4 Camp (R) 5 Kildee (D) 6 Upton (R) 7 Walberg (R) 8 Rogers (R) 9 Peters (D) 10 Miller (R) 11 McCotter (R) 12 Levin (D) 13 Clarke (D) 14 Conyers (D) 15 Dingell (D) Minnesota 1 Walz (D) 2 Kline (R) 3 Paulsen (R) 4 McCollum (D) 5 Ellison (D) 6 Bachmann (R) 7 Peterson (D) 8 Cravaack (R) Mississippi 1 Nunnelee (R) 2 Thompson (D) 3 Harper (R) 4 Palazzo (R) Missouri 1 Clay (D) 2 Akin (R) 3 Carnahan (D) 4 Hartzler (R) 5 Cleaver (D) 6 Graves (R) 7 Long (R) 8 Emerson (R) 9 Luetkemeyer (R) Montana AL Rehberg (R) Nebraska 1 Fortenberry (R) 2 Terry (R) 3 Smith (R) Nevada 1 Berkley (D) 2 Amodei (R) 3 Heck (R) New Hampshire 1 Guinta (R) 2 Bass (R) New Jersey 1 Andrews (D) 2 LoBiondo (R) 3 Runyan (R) 4 Smith (R) 5 Garrett (R) 6 Pallone (D) 7 Lance (R) 8 Pascrell (D) 9 Rothman (D) 10 Payne (D) 11 Frelinghuysen (R) 12 Holt (D) 13 Sires (D) New Mexico 1 Heinrich (D) 2 Pearce (R) 3 Lujan (D) New York 1 Bishop (D) 2 Israel (D) 3 King (R) 4 McCarthy (D) 5 Ackerman (D) 6 Meeks (D) 7 Crowley (D) 8 Nadler (D) 9 Turner (R) 10 Towns (D)
Name Party 11 Clarke (D) 12 Velazquez (D) 13 Grimm (R) 14 Maloney (D) 15 Rangel (D) 16 Serrano (D) 17 Engel (D) 18 Lowey (D) 19 Hayworth (R) 20 Gibson (R) 21 Tonko (D) 22 Hinchey (D) 23 Owens (D) 24 Hanna (R) 25 Buerkle (R) 26 Hochul (D) 27 Higgins (D) 28 Slaughter (D) 29 Reed (R) North Carolina 1 Butterfield (D) 2 Ellmers (R) 3 Jones (R) 4 Price (D) 5 Foxx (R) 6 Coble (R) 7 McIntyre (D) 8 Kissell (D) 9 Myrick (R) 10 McHenry (R) 11 Shuler (D) 12 Watt (D) 13 Miller (D) North Dakota AL Berg (R) Ohio 1 Chabot (R) 2 Schmidt (R) 3 Turner (R) 4 Jordan (R) 5 Latta (R) 6 Johnson (R) 7 Austria (R) 8 Vacant 9 Kaptur (D) 10 Kucinich (D) 11 Fudge (D) 12 Tiberi (R) 13 Sutton (D) 14 LaTourette (R) 15 Stivers (R) 16 Renacci (R) 17 Ryan (D) 18 Gibbs (R) Oklahoma 1 Sullivan (R) 2 Boren (D) 3 Lucas (R) 4 Cole (R) 5 Lankford (R) Oregon 1 Vacant 2 Walden (R) 3 Blumenauer (D) 4 DeFazio (D) 5 Schrader (D) Pennsylvania 1 Brady (D) 2 Fattah (D) 3 Kelly (R) 4 Altmire (D) 5 Thompson (R) 6 Gerlach (R) 7 Meehan (R) 8 Fitzpatrick (R) 9 Shuster (R) 10 Marino (R) 11 Barletta (R) 12 Critz (D) 13 Schwartz (D) 14 Doyle (D) 15 Dent (R) 16 Pitts (R) 17 Holden (D) 18 Murphy (R) 19 Platts (R) Rhode Island 1 Cicilline (D) 2 Langevin (D) South Carolina 1 Scott (R) 2 Wilson (R) 3 Duncan (R) 4 Gowdy (R)
Name Party 5 Mulvaney (R) 6 Clyburn (D) South Dakota AL Noem (R) Tennessee 1 Roe (R) 2 Duncan (R) 3 Fleischmann (R) 4 DesJarlais (R) 5 Cooper (D) 6 Black (R) 7 Blackburn (R) 8 Fincher (R) 9 Cohen (D) Texas 1 Gohmert (R) 2 Poe (R) 3 Johnson, S. (R) 4 Hall (R) 5 Hensarling (R) 6 Barton (R) 7 Culberson (R) 8 Brady (R) 9 Green, A. (D) 10 McCaul (R) 11 Conaway (R) 12 Granger (R) 13 Thornberry (R) 14 Paul (R) 15 Hinojosa (D) 16 Reyes (D) 17 Flores (R) 18 Jackson Lee (D) 19 Neugebauer (R) 20 Gonzalez (D) 21 Smith (R) 22 Olson (R) 23 Canseco (R) 24 Marchant (R) 25 Doggett (D) 26 Burgess (R) 27 Farenthold (R) 28 Cuellar (D) 29 Green, G. (D) 30 Johnson, E. (D) 31 Carter (R) 32 Sessions (R) Utah 1 Bishop (R) 2 Matheson (D) 3 Chaffetz (R) Vermont AL Welch (D) Virginia 1 Wittman (R) 2 Rigell (R) 3 Scott (D) 4 Forbes (R) 5 Hurt (R) 6 Goodlatte (R) 7 Cantor (R) 8 Moran (D) 9 Griffith (R) 10 Wolf (R) 11 Connolly (D) Washington 1 Inslee (D) 2 Larsen (D) 3 Herrera Beutler (R) 4 Hastings (R) 5 McMorris Rodgers (R) 6 Dicks (D) 7 McDermott (D) 8 Reichert (R) 9 Smith (D) West Virginia 1 McKinley (R) 2 Capito (R) 3 Rahall (D) Wisconsin 1 Ryan (R) 2 Baldwin (D) 3 Kind (D) 4 Moore (D) 5 Sensenbrenner (R) 6 Petri (R) 7 Duffy (R) 8 Ribble (R) Wyoming AL Lummis (R)
February 20, 2012
State FB Links
Newsmakers Guy F. Donaldson, former Pennsylvania Farm Bureau president, died Feb. 11, 2012, at Gettysburg Hospital. He was 80 years old. Donaldson was president of PFB from 1996 to 2004. PFB hired Crystal Ensminger and Owen Weikert to serve as regional organizational directors. Keith Stimpert has been named senior vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Stimpert has served 15 years as senior vice president of public policy for OFBF. Adam Sharp has been named vice president, public policy. Sharp has been at OFBF since 2004, first as director of national affairs and then as senior director of legislative and regulatory policy. Brian Peach will become senior director of field operations. Peach was organization director from 1979 to 1983 and rejoined OFBF in 2010.
California couple help vets recover from war
North Dakota FB opposing oil taxes for conservation
Colin and Karen Archipley, farmers in Escondido, Calif., have taught agribusiness skills to more than 60 veterans through the program they created, Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT). VSAT gives vets the knowledge and skills to create small businesses and helps them get back on their feet and make a living. Multiple combat tours in Iraq left Colin, a decorated Marine sergeant, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After leaving the Corps in 2006 he and Karen started Archi’s Acres, a six-acre organic, hydroponic farm where he found solace in the farm’s tranquil surroundings. Wanting to give back to other veterans, Colin and Karen created VSAT by securing money from the Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit veterans organization, through Mira Costa Community College where VSAT’s curriculum is accredited and is part of the school’s curriculum. Fellow PTSD sufferers have felt some relief on the farm, like Colin did, and all the vets who have gone through the program still work in agriculture.
The North Dakota Farm Bureau says it will fight a proposed initiative that would require spending oil tax money on wildlife and conservation projects. Proponents of the measure say that the state’s energy boom presents an opportunity to use some of the revenue from oil and gas taxes to preserve the state’s natural resources. In November, voters will have to approve the change to the state’s constitution to dedicate 5 percent of the state’s oil and gas tax revenues to the proposed Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Amendment. Doyle Johannes, NDFB president, said it’s too much money to set aside for wildlife and conservation programs, because those efforts already get a lot of state and federal support. Johannes also said the measure would take money away from education and property tax relief and that the board could take land out of private ownership. Steve Adair, Ducks Unlimited regional director and the campaign’s chairman, said the measure would provide farmers voluntary incentives for land conservation.
Ohio legislation would increase farm loan program
Texas Farm Bureau launches new website
Wisconsin Farm Bureau pleased about wetland rule revisions
Wyoming Ag Literacy Week held the week of Feb. 13th
An Ohio House bill, with companion legislation in the state Senate, would extend the state’s Agricultural Linked Deposit program (Ag-LINK), making more discounted loans available to farmers who want to grow their businesses. The program’s maximum annual funding available through the state treasury would increase from $125 million to $165 million. An individual farmer could borrow up to $150,000 at a reduced interest rate, up from the current cap of $100,000. Ohio Rep. Brian Zanesville, co-sponsor of the House bill, said that Ag-LINK has been a good program for smaller farms and agricultural businesses and is particularly helpful for young farmers just starting out. “Many young farmers particularly, or beginning farmers, find that they have a wealth of knowledge but a lack of capital,” said Beth Vanderkooi, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The loans allow farmers to buy feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel and pay other operating costs up front.
Texas Farm Bureau has redesigned its website to support the organization’s new Texas-Ready brand. The new website features the new “stylized star” logo and other brand elements for a clean, sleek look. “Texas Farm Bureau’s website often is the first introduction the public has to our organization. Our previous website had become outdated and was difficult to navigate—which, in turn, made it hard for visitors to find the information they needed,” said Gene Hall, TFB’s director of public relations. Work began on the new website (texasfarmbureau.org) last spring to increase functionality and incorporate design elements that complement the new TFB brand. A scrolling bar on the home page highlights important agricultural issues, which will be regularly refreshed with new and timely information. Feature stories from TFB publications and blogs continually update below the scrolling bar, and the latest TFB video, radio and social media content can be found on the right side of the page.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is pleased with the Wisconsin State Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 368, which reforms the state’s wetlands permitting process. Paul Zimmerman, WFBF’s executive director of governmental relations, said that the legislation will help farmers obtain permits for projects that impact wetlands, while still protecting the environment. “Our state’s current wetland laws are complex and often times unworkable for landowners who wish to build a shed or driveway near a wetland on their property,” Zimmerman explained. “This bill offers workable solutions to landowners, such as revising the mitigation program to allow for mitigation to offset wetland losses. This means landowners will be required to establish more wetlands on their property than they impact with a construction project.” He also said that the legislation offers workable reforms for farm families to modernize their operations, and allows the Department of Natural Resources to make rational decisions regarding wetlands.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has designated the week of Feb. 13 as “Wyoming Agricultural Literacy Week” to recognize the importance of the Wyoming agriculture industry and educate children through reading, which is a goal shared by the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee’s “Ag Books for Kids” project. The eight-yearold project works with county Farm Bureaus to donate agriculture books annually to elementary school libraries across Wyoming. “Reading non-fiction books is an important way for children to learn about their world,” said Chalsey Kortes, WyFB YF&R state chair. “Combining reading and learning about the industry that provides your food and fiber is a great fit and a project of which we are very proud.” Those involved in the “Ag Books for Kids” project were happy about the governor’s involvement and participated in the ceremony in the governor’s office when he signed the Wyoming “Agricultural Literacy Week” proclamation.
Melissa Burniston has been promoted to associate director of communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. Burniston began her career at TFBF in 2006. Hugh Adams, regional field service director, announced his retirement after 36 years with TFBF. Matthew Fennel, Dyer County Farm Bureau insurance agent, will be replacing Adams in the field staff. John Woolfolk, associate director of commodities activities, has retired after 28 years. He became a member of the TFBF staff in 1983 as a regional field service director. The Michigan Farm Bureau has restructured its Information and Public Relations Division resulting in several staff changes. Jill Corrin has filled the newly created position of online communications and new media manager. For the past 11 years, Corrin has served as MFB’s manager of media relations. Jeremy Nagel is the new media relations specialist after eight years as MFB’s county communications manager. Erica Venton fills the newly created position of digital communications and distribution coordinator. Venton has been MFB’s graphic design and communication specialist for the past five years. Heather Costigan has transferred to the IPR division as graphic design specialist. For the past three years, Costigan has served as member services representative in MFB’s Field Operations Division. Nikki Beattie has been hired as MFB’s local media specialist. Beattie previously worked as the county administrative manager for the Eaton County Farm Bureau before leaving in 2011 to become the membership coordinator for the Michigan Corn Growers Association. Samuel Nielsen is the new communications/accounting coordinator for the MFB Member Publications Department. Since January 2011, Nielsen has worked as a technician for Farm Bureau Insurance’s Imaging and Mailing Services Department.
February 20, 2012
FB members save millions on purchases from Grainger Farm Bureau members saved more than $7.6 million on purchases from Grainger last year, thanks to the Farm Bureau member discount program. In fact, 2011 was a record year in terms of Farm Bureau members’ total purchases from Grainger and the amount of money they saved through the Farm Bureau discount program. “The Grainger program is becoming an even more important, more valuable benefit for Farm Bureau members,” said Ron Gaskill, executive director of American Farm Bureau Inc. (AFBI). “The ability of all members— farmers and non-farmers alike—to see savings from this program is substantial.” Through the exclusive contract that AFBI has with W.W. Grainger Inc., Farm Bureau members received discounts averaging 24 percent on hundreds of thousands of products from engines, tools and industrial supplies to office equipment, outdoor equipment and heating, ventilation and air con-
ditioning equipment. The minimum discount is 10 percent and the discount goes up to as much as 50 percent off catalog prices, depending on the product. Members saved $7,157,000 on their catalog purchases and another $518,000 on purchases made online at grainger.com. The discounts also apply to in-store purchases. The Farm Bureau contract allows Farm Bureau members who don’t have Grainger accounts to benefit from the company’s large stock of brandname equipment, tools and supplies. Ordinarily, individuals are not able to buy from Grainger because the company is a wholesaler, not a retailer. In addition, Farm Bureau members receive free shipping on all purchases, a benefit that can save a hefty amount of money on large, heavy items. Buyers must register at grainger. com to get free shipping. In addition to heavy-duty, industrial equipment and supplies, Farm Bureau members can
order products most homeowners need, such as air-conditioner filters, batteries, outdoor furniture, small appliances and even exercise equipment at deep discounts and with free shipping. “Any Farm Bureau member can walk into a Grainger branch or log onto grainger.com and save hundreds or possibly even thousands of dollars on things they need around the home or farm,” said Gaskill. “A member can recoup his or her membership dues and more with just one purchase from Grainger.” Many Farm Bureau members already are aware of this, apparently. Farm Bureau members bought more than $25 million worth of products from Grainger in 2011. States with the highest totals of purchases by Farm Bureau members were California, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Washington, New Jersey, Michigan and Oregon. Farm Bureau members in every state are eligible to receive discounts on purchases from Grainger. All they have to do is contact their county or state Farm Bureau office to get the appropriate discount code.
Expiration of tax cuts looms for farmers and ranchers Continued from page 4 about farmers who are land-rich but often cash-poor.” AFBF will urge Congress to extend the current capital gains tax levels. The president also proposes replacing the Alternative Minimum Tax with a 30 percent minimum tax on individuals earning more than $1 million per year. Higher AMT exemptions expired at the end of last year, when the individual exemption went from $33,750 to $45,000 and the exemption for taxpayers who are married and file jointly went from $48,450 to $74,450. The AMT was created as a way to ensure that the
wealthy don’t get off scot-free by using a plethora of deductions. However, since the AMT was never indexed for inflation, it has hit more middle-income taxpayers as incomes have risen. The AMT presents particular challenges for farmers and ranchers, Wolff says. “A farmer’s income can vary greatly from year to year depending on commodity prices, production costs and, of course, the weather,” Wolff explained. “One year he might be above the AMT exemption; the next year he may not be. “If after one or more bad years a farmer finally has a year in which
his yield is good and crop or livestock prices are high, having to pay a tax that was meant to target the super-wealthy doesn’t seem fair.” AFBF has not taken a position on the president’s proposal to set a straight 30 percent minimum tax for millionaires. The biodiesel tax credit also has already expired. AFBF supports extension of the $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel makers. Before the biodiesel tax credit was implemented in 2005, the U.S. produced just 25 million gallons of biodiesel a year. When the incentive was reinstated last year after it lapsed in 2010, it
helped triple biodiesel production to a record 1.1 billion gallons, supporting more than 39,000 jobs, according to the National Biodiesel Board. When the tax credit lapsed, biodiesel plants idled and had to let workers go. “It’s obvious that the biodiesel tax incentives have played a critical role in allowing the U.S. to scale-up production of this domestic, renewable fuel,” Wolff said. “The tax credit works and should be continued.” According to NBB, the biodiesel industry is projected to support more than 74,000 jobs by 2015 and some $7.3 billion in GDP— with the tax incentive in place.
House, Senate surface transportation bills on hold for recess Continued from page 1 Ohio) initially planned to bring a marked with a label reading “Dielarge transportation and energy sel Fuel.” package to the House floor, but In a separate letter to the House he separated four energy-related Transportation and Infrastrucprovisions to create a new bill, ture Committee, AFBF President the Protecting Investment in Bob Stallman exOil Shale the Next plained why the Generation of Envicurrent limit of 118 ronmental, Energy “We need uniformity gallons of diesel fuel and reciprocity of farm and Resource Secuwithout a hazardous rity (PIONEERS) Act exemptions across state (H.R. 3408), which materials endorselines, and we strongly ment is such a probpassed on Feb. 16. lem for growers. The Farm Bureauoppose any federal re“Some of today’s backed bill would quirement of commerfarm equipment, allow for the decial driver’s licenses for velopment and such as large comfarmers and ranchers.” recovery of new bines and cotton pickers, has fuel energy resources in tank capacities of the Outer Continen250 gallons or more,” Stallman tal Shelf, open less than 3 percent wrote. “Restricting a farmer to of the Arctic National Wildlife hauling only 118 gallons at a time Refuge to development and proforces him to make multiple trips mote U.S. oil shale resources, to refuel, wasting valuable time technology and development. and money during the busiest “Supporting these components time of the year.” will help strengthen U.S. energy An effort to give states the opsecurity, create jobs, promote ecotion of increasing truck-weight nomic development and benefit limits to 97,000 pounds with the America’s farmers and ranchers,” inclusion of a sixth axle on trucks Stallman said in a letter to House was set aside pending a study on lawmakers urging them to vote in the effects of heavier truck weight favor the bill. limits. According to House RepubliHouse Speaker John Boehner (Rcans, the transportation mea-
sure they send to the Senate will include the energy provisions. Once each chamber has passed its surface transportation reauthorization, a conference committee will craft one bill to be
approved by both the House and the Senate, and ultimately signed by President Barack Obama. The current extension of surface transportation programs expires on March 31.
Corner Post Farms Selling Local Foods Directly to Consumers
Source: USDA, ERS