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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.
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
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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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President, American Farm Bureau Federation
The holidays are here and the duck is lame
t’s official, the holidays are upon us. We narrowly escaped the rapid fire of election ads and weren’t even finished with the Thanksgiving meal before being fa-la-la-lala’d with luxury cars wrapped in bows and soft drink-swigging polar bears. As the commercials indicate, December is a time for celebration and giving (and receiving). In the political arena, on the other hand, December is typically a down time. This especially holds true when new congressional members have just been elected and the previous Congress is in lame-duck mode. But, if Congress doesn’t act soon on several significant outstanding items, all of our gooses will be cooked. Deck Congress’ halls Before we even think about throwing on the Yule Log, we need to get our legislative house in order. If Congress doesn’t make some important decisions before Jan. 1, the U.S. economy will drop off what is being termed the “fiscal
cliff.” A plan needs to be hatched to cut $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years from the deficit, something of which Congress has known about for awhile. If Congress doesn’t act by the end of the year, automatic, across-the-board government cuts will kick in, affecting more than 1,000 federal programs, many of which will impact agriculture. For example, all commodity and many conservation programs will be cut by 7.6 percent next year. And agriculture research, Extension activities, food safety and rural economic development programs are just a few others that will be cut by 8.2 percent in 2013. Crop insurance will survive the first year, but will likely face cuts in year two. While all Americans will feel the impact, the cuts will slice right through rural America, which is so dependent on Extension services and rural development. With boughs of folly The fiscal cliff will also impact tax breaks.
An important one for farmers is the estate tax, which will revert from a $5 million exemption at a 35 percent tax rate to a $1 million exemption with a top tax rate of 55 percent. This could impact one out of every 10 farms and make it almost impossible for young farmers to carry on their family operations. The capital gains tax rate will also increase come Jan. 1, from the current 15 percent to 20 percent. This, too, will greatly impact farmers and ranchers. Because capital gains taxes are imposed when buildings and farmland are typically sold or transferred to new or expanding farmers, it will become more difficult for farmers to shed their assets or upgrade their businesses. Congress has a lot on its holiday plate during the next several weeks. By the way, did I mention that we still don’t have a farm bill? But, that’s a topic for another day, maybe over eggnog. Until then, have a happy and safe holiday season.
Estate taxes: My neighbor is not Warren Buffett By Blake Hurst In 1975, my senior year in high school, there were five families farming along Route O, a two-lane blacktop that snakes along the section lines for the 10 miles between Tarkio and Westboro, two tiny towns in northwest Missouri. Four of these families are still involved in farming, and three of them have extended family farms, with several generations working in the family business. Each of those families is now headed by a farmer or a retired farmer who has a problem, a problem that is going to get much worse come Jan. 1. That’s when the present law concerning estate taxes expires. The exemption for exposure to the “death tax” will revert to a $1 million level and the maximum tax rate will increase to a confiscatory 55 percent. This is hardly a tax targeted at the filthy rich, but rather an unfair levy on almost everybody who has made a lifelong career on the farm. None of the families on my former bus route are rich. No assets compare to the Buffett fortune, or Bill Gates, or even one of those hedge fund managers who preside
The death tax is poised to end the kind of family farming that is so important to our nation, and we need relief. over Wall Street. These are people who’ve lived simply, saved their money and at this stage in their life have only one goal: to pass their life’s work to their children. In the case of the three families who have descendants actively involved in farming, they want to protect their children’s ability to live a life like they’ve lived. This rather modest goal is threatened by Congress’ failure to act on permanent estate tax reform. Critics of estate tax reform like to point out that very few estates actually pay estate taxes, while arguing at the same time that the federal budget can’t stand the loss of a single dollar of estate tax revenue. They’re wrong on both counts. Estate taxes raise almost no revenue, generating only $16.9 billion in the last year for which receipts are available. That’s a rounding error in a budget the size of the U.S. government, and a doubling of estate tax revenues would only finance our budget
Mace Thornton, Acting Director, Public Relations Erin Anthony, Editor Phyllis Brown, Assistant Editor Tracy Grondine, Contributing Writer Sarah Bittner, Contributing Writer
December 10, 2012 Vol. 91
deficit for about a week. As for the estates that owe estate taxes, those estimates don’t take into account the changes in the value of farmland in the past few years. According to local plat maps, my neighbors own from 300 to 1,000 acres. That acreage is small in today’s world and comparable to the average farm size in Missouri. Farm ground in this area has been selling for $7,000 to $10,000 per acre. My neighbors are multimillionaires, much to their surprise. If these farmers are able to accomplish their goals, none of these millions will ever be spent. Instead, these farms will stay in families for generations. But the person who owns 1,000 acres will be faced with a prospective tax bill of around $5 million. This is in addition to the thousands of dollars in legal and accounting fees these farmers have already spent to ensure their farm is protected and passes to the next generation. No farm in Missouri, or
Published semimonthly, except monthly in August and December, by the American Farm B ureau Federation, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 1000W, Washington, DC 20024. Phone: 202-406-3600. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.fb.org. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and additional mailing offices. Subscription rate for officers and board members of county and state Farm Bureaus—$6, which is deducted from dues. For other subscribers—$10. Postmaster: Send address changes to FBNews, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 1000W, Washington, DC 20024.
anywhere else, has the wherewithal to stand that kind of financial tsunami. The death tax is poised to end the kind of family farming that is so important to our nation, and we need relief. Farmland prices are high because farm incomes have been good. That’s a wonderful thing for which farmers owe no apology. Every dollar of those increased incomes is taxed by the state and the nation and every acre of those farms pays property taxes. We’re already paying taxes on our good fortune, as we should. We ought not be taxed again at death.
Blake Hurst is president of Missouri Farm Bureau.
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Texas ranch family: $1 million estate tax exemption would be devastating—fair, fixed exemption needed Unless Congress acts soon, on Jan. 1 the estate tax exemption will shrink to $1 million per person with no spousal transfer and the top rate will jump to 55 percent. Had such a low exemption been in place when South Texans Eladio and Ines Carrera passed away, in 2009 and 2011, respectively, their children would have been forced to sell off most, if not all, of their land to pay federal estate taxes. A third-generation operation started by Eladio’s parents, Santana and Benita, the Carrera ranch was built with land that was purchased over nearly 40 years, from the late 1930s though the mid1970s. Much of the land was bought after Eladio and his brother, Homero, formed a partnership with Santana in the early 1950s. In the early 1990s, after Santana and Benita had passed away, the ranch was partitioned between Eladio and Ines, and Homero and his wife, Maria Alicia. Known as Santana Carrera and Sons, the family business also ran
a supermarket, Twin Palms Food Center, which served the residents of Starr County for more than 40 years. The store’s grass-fed beef came from the ranching operation. Today, the youngest Carrera sibling, Daniel, sells the cattle he raises on his parents’ portion of the ranch at the local livestock market, and also keeps a few horses. The land is also leased out for hunting deer and other wildlife. Had a $1 million exemption been in place when the Carrera parents had passed, with land values in Starr County climbing, their children’s estate tax liability could have been more than the exemption itself. Borrowing from a bank to pay the tax would not have been an option. Even if the Carreras could find a willing lender, they would have probably had to pledge all of their land as collateral. “With the decade-long drought in South Texas and fluctuating cattle prices, we probably wouldn’t have made enough money to pay a loan off,” said Victor Carrera,
co-executor of both his parents’ estates. “It was fortuitous that my parents passed away in years when the estate tax liability was set at more than $1 million, since the land is valued far in excess of its ability as an asset to produce a profitable return on investment.” The estate tax exemption for 2009, when Eladio passed away, was $3.5 million, and the exemption for 2011, when Ines passed away, was $5 million. The experience of the Carrera
family shows how difficult estate planning is today, given that the amount of the estate tax exemption keeps changing, without any seeming logic. Only a fair, fixed estate tax exemption in an amount sufficient to allow small farmers and ranchers to keep and make productive use of their real property will enable estate planning attorneys to effectively counsel their landowning clients in planning for the future, according to Victor Carrera.
Farmers urge action on estate taxes, capital gains On Jan. 1, the estate tax exemption is set to shrink to $1 million per person with no spousal transfer and the top rate will jump to 55 percent, putting the future of hundreds of the nation’s family farms and ranches at risk. Through the end of the year, the estate tax exemption is $5 million per person and the top rate is 35 percent. Until estate taxes are permanently eliminated, farmers want Congress to keep or improve the current exemption, indexed for inflation, maintain spousal transfer and continue the top tax rate. Capital gains taxes are also scheduled to increase with the new year. Under current law, on Jan. 1, 2013, the top long-term capital gains tax rate will rise from the current 15 percent to 20 percent, and the dividends tax rate will more than double to 39.6 percent. As part of an American Farm Bureau Federation campaign to urge lawmakers to take action on estate taxes and capital gains taxes during the lame duck, farmers and ranchers have sent 12,600 messages to their legislators underscoring the urgent need for estate tax and capital gains tax reform. AFBF’s FBACT Insider website, fbactinsider.org, is the easiest way to let Congress know how devastating the impending estate tax and capital gains rate hikes are to agriculture. On the site, you’ll find a “Tax Issues” section, which, once you click on it, will provide you with background information, as well as an “Action Alert” that will allow you to send e-mails to your senators and representative.
Stewardship, neighbor-toneighbor farming urged
Farm bill movement as fiscal cliff dominates lame duck
Continued from page 1 In 2011, Vilsack tasked the AC21 with providing recommendations for strengthening coexistence among various agricultural production methods. AFBF Vice President Barry Bushue, a member of the AC21, said the report’s recommendations could benefit all of agriculture. The AC21 report highlights the importance of diversity in U.S. agriculture and the history of successful coexistence in identity-preserved markets, whereby production practices maintain each crop’s integrity and purity. “Finding ways to work together to serve specialty, high-value markets is one of the greatest strengths of the U.S. agriculture industry,” said Bushue. “As American farmers continue to innovate, I am optimistic that our recommendations can help identify coexistence practices where they are working, improve stewardship where needed and mitigate much of the underlying concerns about the real and perceived risks related to coexistence,” continued Bushue, noting that the committee’s report emphasizes proactive grower outreach and education. The committee urged the department to take the lead on a
Continued from page 1 “There’s a ways to go before the farm bill gets to the president’s desk, but legislators are working off of two solid draft bills,” said Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist. The Senate-passed version of the bill, approved in June, would save $23 billion over 10 years. The House Agriculture Committee’s legislation, passed in July, provides a $35 billion savings. The gap in savings is primarily due to cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Both the House and Senate versions would eliminate direct payments, but they differ in the types of countercyclical programs and target prices they would establish. While AFBF has said that both bills could be improved, specifically to reduce inequity across commodities, the important thing is to get a farm bill passed. With the exception of dairy farmers, who lost the Milk Income Loss Contract program on Sept. 30, many growers are okay for now because their 2012 crops are covered going into 2013. However, having a farm bill in place is critical for planning the future. Beyond the farm bill, farmers
broad-based comprehensive education and outreach initiative to strengthen the understanding of coexistence between diverse agriculture systems. The AC21 also explored the idea of compensation to address economic losses by farmers whose crop value may be reduced by the unintended presence of biotechnology but determined that a compensation mechanism isn’t necessary or justified at this time. “I’m pleased our committee carefully weighed the evidence, listened to the needs of growers and chose to emphasize improved stewardship and neighbor-toneighbor coexistence,” said Bushue. Among the data the committee reviewed, there was not a single specific case of a farmer who had lost crop value because of a breakdown in coexistence that was out of his or her control. However, should USDA consider moving forward with compensation, it should be based on sound data showing significant economic harm, the committee said. It should also resemble the crop insurance model, be available to all identity-preserved growers and include incentives for the adoption of voluntary coexistence plans.
are as anxious as every other American about how the impending tax hikes will affect them. Among the tax rates slated to jump on Jan. 1 are those tied to estate taxes and capital gains. While the top tax rate for the estate tax will climb from the 35 percent in place now to 55 percent, the exemption is slated to drop from the current $5 million to $1 million per person. The spousal transfer for the exemption will also disappear. Until estate taxes are permanently eliminated, farmers are urging Congress to maintain or improve the current exemption, indexed for inflation, preserve spousal transfer and continue the top tax rate. “If the $1 million exemption goes into effect, as many as 10 percent of farm and ranch families could have to sell land, buildings or equipment to pay the tax,” said Pat Wolff, AFBF tax specialist. The top long-term capital gains tax rate is also scheduled to rise in 2013, from the current 15 percent to 20 percent, and the dividends tax rate will more than double to 39.6 percent. Nationwide, 40 percent of all agricultural producers report some capital gains, nearly twice the share for all taxpayers.
Online Silent Auction offers greater opportunity to support ag literacy For the second year, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s Silent Auction will be online, giving Farm Bureau members at home the same opportunity to support ag literacy as those onsite at the annual meeting in Nashville. All the proceeds from the Silent Auction support the Foundation’s mission of building awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education. The Foundation’s programs include the online resources My American Farm and Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage, mini-grants for agricultural literacy projects, Agriculture in the Classroom scholarships, Ag Mags, the middle school curriculum and more. Moving the Silent Auction online allows the Foundation to expand the bidding period to an entire week, rather than just two days of the annual meeting Tradeshow. Bid-
ding will open on Jan. 7 at 7 a.m. Eastern and close on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. “We’ll have products well-known to farmers and ranchers, like those from Granger, Monsanto and Stihl, plus an array of one-of-a-kind items like handmade goods,” said Dan Durheim, Foundation executive director. Also back by popular demand are items from the host state, thanks to the generosity of the counties in Tennessee. To help make sure bidders don’t miss out on a must-have, the Silent Auction’s website gives bidders the ability to set a high bid and have the site make automatic, incremental bids up to that amount. Annual meeting attendees can still get their onsite Silent Auction fix at computers dedicated to the auction at the Tradeshow. While the online bidding might be new to some, Nationwide’s partnership with the Foundation is not. Again in 2013, the insur-
ance company will match the auction proceeds, up to $15,000. In January 2012 Nationwide’s match increased the funds raised through the Silent Auction to $32,375. “We are so grateful to Nationwide for their continued support of the Foundation and the Silent Auction,” Durheim said. “It’s important that Farm Bureau members know that their bids have double the impact because of Nationwide’s generous matching grant. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this by placing a bid.” Additional auction items are welcome. To donate, go to the Foundation’s website, agfoundation.org. With your mouse, hover over “News and Events” and click on “Events.” There will be a link for donations there. To place a bid beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern on Jan. 7, go to www.biddingforgood.com/ agfoundation.
New year, new Foundation for Agriculture Book of the Year The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture will announce its sixth Book of the Year on Jan. 13 at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Nashville. The announcement will be made at the Foundation’s annual Flapjack Fundraiser. The author of the new Book of the Year will accept the award at the 7 a.m. breakfast event. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 13 and from 9:30-11 a.m. on Jan. 14, at-
tendees can purchase copies of the book and have them signed by the author in the Foundation’s auction area in the Tradeshow. Educator guides and a new Ag Mag also will be available, separately and together as an educator’s bundle. The Book of the Year award springs from the Foundation’s effort to identify “accurate ag books,” a collection of more than 400 books for children, teenagers
and adults that accurately cover agricultural topics. In addition to their accuracy, Book of the Year selections are educational, reflect farmers’ and ranchers’ love for the land and what they do, create positive public perceptions about agriculture, inspire readers to learn more and touch their readers’ lives as well as tell the farmer’s story. Previous Book of the Year selections are “How Did that Get Into My Lunchbox? The Story of Food” by Chris Butterworth, “Seed Soil Sun: Earth’s Recipe for Food” by Cris Peterson, “Soybeans in the Story of Agriculture” by Susan Anderson and JoAnne Buggey, “The Man Who Fed the World” by Leon Hesser and “The Tree Farmer” by Chuck Leavell. Dan Durheim, the Foundation’s executive director, said the sixth Book of the Year would continue the high standards of these previous selections. “Each of the previous Books of the Year has been unique in its approach to storytelling or teaching, or in its audience, but one thing they have in common is that they all do a great job of educating people about agriculture and how it affects everyone’s lives,” Durheim said. “The next Book of the Year, which has already been selected but won’t be announced until the Flapjack Fundraiser, will continue that tradition of revealing something people probably didn’t know about agriculture, in the book’s own unique way.” Also at the Flapjack Fundraiser, state Farm Bureaus will be recognized for outstanding support of the Foundation. In addition, the Foundation will acknowledge Montana high school student Daniel Beck as the winner of the Agriculture in a Growing World essay contest, which is sponsored
jointly by the Foundation and the Nutrients for Life Foundation. Thanks to Nationwide, wellknown zookeeper Jack Hanna and his zoo animals will be making an appearance, too. The Flapjack Fundraiser is one of the most popular annual meeting events. All proceeds from ticket sales for the pancake breakfast go toward creating lesson plans and other materials to help build awareness, understanding and a positive perception of agriculture through education. Tickets, which can be purchased at the registration booths in Nashville, are $35 per individual or $330 for a table for 10. For the first time this year, folks can sleep in and still support ag education. Instead of purchasing a ticket to the Flapjack Fundraiser, people can sign up for Lazy 4 Ag Literacy and make a $35 donation to the Foundation. “Although you’ll be snug in your bed, your investment will carry your legacy for literacy,” Durheim said. “We will be sure that those at the breakfast are aware of your investment.” For more information, contact Julia Recko, Foundation program coordinator, at 202406-3737 or email@example.com.
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Tradeshow: Foundation booth highlights My American Farm, Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s online resources My American Farm and Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage will both be featured at the Foundation’s booth in the Tradeshow at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting, Jan. 13-16 in Nashville. Since annual meeting-goers last sidled up to a My American Farm kiosk at the 2012 annual meeting in Honolulu, new games have been added, including In My Barn and My Little Ag Me. The first game for a pre-K-K audience, In My Barn lets students use math skills to help game character Farmer Faye care for her animals. My Little Ag Me is a scenario-based game that introduces K-2 learners to careers in agriculture. All of My American Farm’s 16 games are subject-matter focused and agriculturally themed so that players learn through math, science, social studies, language arts and health. For those attending the annual meeting and who are familiar with My American Farm, the Foundation wants to hear how the educational gaming resource has helped you share the story of agriculture. “We would love to get people on video camera sharing how they use My American Farm, and of what value the site and resources are to them,” said Dan Durheim,
executive director of the Foundation. “Don’t worry about having anything prepared. We just want to hear from the heart how My American Farm has helped you reach out on behalf of agriculture.” Similarly, the Foundation is encouraging farmers, ranchers and others who have used Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage to connect with the public to share their experiences. Appropriately named Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage, the site tells the story of American farm and ranch families who have shaped the history of our nation, raising our food and their families on farms that have been in operation under the same family for more than 100 years. “If you’ve been profiled on the site or you have a century farm, we’d be thrilled to see you, too,” Durheim said. The My American Farm educational gaming resource and Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage are special projects of the Foundation. Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage is supported by title sponsor Capreno® herbicide from Bayer CropScience. To support the farmers’ and ranchers’ lasting heritage, visit www.agricultureslasting heritage.org. The My American Farm site and resources are made possible through the generous support of title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer. To take advantage of free My American Farm resources, games and activities, visit www.myamerican farm.org. The Foundation will raffle off one My American Farm kiosk to a state Farm Bureau at Foundation’s Night Out at the Grand Ole Opry® House, which will be held on Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. Another Foundation project is the “Pillars of Agricultural Literacy,” which provide a framework of standards for increasing agricultural literacy among learners of all ages. AFBFA believes that all people should have a basic understanding of the agriculture industry, and this document provides a guideline for expected learning outcomes by age. Farm Bureau members are invited to visit the Foundation’s Tradeshow booth to review the Pillars, which are currently in draft form, and provide input. Members can pick up a copy of the
“Pillars of Agricultural Literacy” in the booth, take their time to review it and return to the booth to complete a short online survey. The Foundation’s Tradeshow booth is also the place to learn more about all the resources the Foundation offers to support its mission to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education. Those resources include Food and Farm Facts, Ag Mags and educator guides. Several resources will also be on sale at the Foundation booth. Among the available items will be the “Feeding Minds, Cultivating Growth” educator guide and supporting books, which teach young people to care for others, build healthy relationships and learn from their elders while living vicariously through the narratives of young farmers and ranchers. “Members can also bring home a copy of the newly revised ‘Agriculture and the Environment’ educator’s guide, designed to sup-
If you’re not attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville, you can still help the Foundation boost ag literacy with the many resources offered through the Foundation’s website. Go to agfoundation.org and click on the “Resources” option on the menu bar to see the books, brochures, DVDs, educator guides and more available. port science exploration in middle and high school,” Durheim said. “We encourage Tradeshow attendees to check out the selection of accurate ag books and pick one up to take home to the young readers in their families.”
December 10, 2012
Carrying more than 60 percent of U.S. corn and soybeans to foreign markets, U.S. waterways and ports are critical to agriculture. Earlier this fall, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s David Salmonsen, trade specialist, and Veronica Nigh, trade economist, led a group of Farm Bureau leaders to St. Louis, New Orleans and Panama to view first-hand the opportunities and challenges for improving U.S. agriculture’s trade competitiveness. The state Farm Bureau presidents on the trip were Steve Baccus, Kansas; Pat Lagenfelder, Maryland; Mike Spradling, Oklahoma; Carl Shaffer, Pennsylvania; Lacy Upchurch, Tennessee; and Kenneth Dierschke, Texas. AFBF President Bob Stallman also participated. In St. Louis, the group got a look at grain elevator operations along the Mississippi River, including the unloading of grain trucks from local farms and the loading of a barge for shipment down river. There, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explained how the locks operate and how difficult it is to come by the funding needed to maintain and expand the upper Mississippi’s lock system. Lock maintenance is primarily covered by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. “Currently, funding for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund comes from two sources,” explained Nigh. “One is the 20cent-per-gallon fuel tax barge
Farm leaders focus on waterway improvements
Updating locks and dams along critical U.S. shipping waterways is vital to the efficient transport of U.S. farm commodities, especially looking ahead to the 2014 completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal, where the deeper waterways will allow larger ships carrying more cargo. operators pay, which raises about $84 million annually. Federal assistance brings the budget for the system to $175 million each year, far short of the estimated $380 million needed. “ Understanding the need for additional funding, barge and tow operators are on board with increasing the diesel fuel tax by 50 percent, to 30 cents per gallon. Some lawmakers also like the idea of a fuel tax increase. The American Waterworks Act, which Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he was planning to soon introduce, would do just that. In New Orleans and Baton
Rouge, where the farm leaders visited port operations and facilities dedicated to poultry and grain exports, the expansion of the Panama Canal locks was a big concern. Port operators and agricultural shippers want to be able to take advantage of the additional cargo the Panama Canal’s new 50-foot depth will allow—and keep U.S. exports competitive with those coming from South America and beyond. But as it is, maintaining the 45foot channel depth along the 250 river miles from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico requires constant attention, and money. “The larger cargo loads the Pan-
ama Canal will eventually allow will be of no benefit to shippers, or the farmers and ranchers whose goods they carry, if our inland waterways can’t handle the loads,” Nigh explained. Port improvements, like channel dredging, are paid by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which is supported by a tax on the value of imports and domestic cargo arriving at U.S. ports. However, only half of the fund’s money is used for dredging. Congress has often tapped into the other half to offset general spending. The American Waterways Act proposes using the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, as well as the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, for construction projects to get waterways to their authorized widths and depths as part of a five-year construction program. The final stop on the trip was the Panama Canal. The construction of larger locks, scheduled to be completed in 2014, will allow larger “post-Panamax” ships carrying up to three times the cargo capacity the current locks allow through the canal. “The advantages the Panama Canal expansion creates for large U.S. cargo ships carrying our farm and ranch goods are the same advantages our competitors, like Brazil, will have,” Nigh pointed out. “This goes well beyond getting grain down the Mississippi River. An investment in improving U.S. waterways is an investment in the whole U.S. economy.”
IFYE participants gain far more than a passport stamp This is the seventh in a series of articles about the IFYE Exchange program. Young adults between the ages of 19 and 30 who want to travel but want more than the typical tourist’s view of a country are encouraged to apply to the IFYE Exchange program, which offers select applicants the experience of living for three to six months with multiple host families in rural settings. Available countries include Australia, Austria, Botswana, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania and Wales. The number of host families varies from country to country, but typical stays with each family span three to four weeks. Each state has its own application and selection process, although most are similar. Applications are typically due by Jan. 1. Af-
ter applications and references are received and reviewed, state IFYE coordinators arrange for an interview to assess the applicants’ maturity, personality, flexibility, citizenship skills, reasons for applying and more. Applicants with 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau or similar backgrounds are preferred because they will fit in best with participating country organizations and be more prepared to meet the goal of expanding peace through understanding. Selected delegates should have a basic understanding of 4-H, FFA or other home organization and knowledge of their state and country, including history, politics, values and lifestyle, as well as the ability to share those with host families. They must exhibit a sincere interest in gaining a basic understanding of the host country, its culture, customs, language and lifestyle.
Once a participant is selected, the state IFYE coordinator will arrange for placement of the delegate with a participating country (taking into consideration the applicant’s preferences), and then the orientation process can begin. It is suggested that delegates research and learn as much as possible on their own about their host countries, including language preparation. However, don’t let any perceived language barrier prevent you from applying; English is widely spoken in most countries. Passport and visa requirements will be determined and arranged for each delegate. It is the responsibility of the delegate, with the state IFYE coordinator’s assistance, to apply for and pay any fees associated with a passport and visa. A state and national orientation will aid the outbound delegates in preparing for the “nuts and bolts” of this experience. It addresses such topics as packing, currency, culture shock, photography, insurance, host family relationships, host family gifts, meeting the press and VIPs, and knowledge of geography, politics and world affairs.
State IFYE coordinators communicate with outbound delegates while they are abroad to make sure that all is going well and to encourage them to send newsletters, Facebook posts and blogs to share with others. After delegates return home, a debriefing is required to address possible reverse culture shock and to begin engaging the delegate in promotional activities, such as follow-up newspaper articles, radio or TV appearances, and speaking engagements. Delegates are also encouraged to join state and national IFYE alumni associations. The cost of this exchange ranges from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the country. Since its founding in 1948, the IFYE Exchange program has helped thousands of young people from across the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the South Pacific learn about life in other lands. Further information and application forms may be obtained from Alan Lambert, national IFYE Association president, at 605-366-6107 or alanelambert@ gmail.com.
December 10, 2012
State FB Links
Final state quota, Navigator status Quota states Alaska, 354 member families Arizona, 22,140 member families California, 74,497 member families Colorado, 23,683 member families Connecticut, 7,239 member families Delaware, 8,324 member families Florida, 147,119 member families Hawaii, 1,952 member families Idaho, 68,311 member families Iowa, 154,424 member families Louisiana, 148,406 member families Maryland, 37,211 member families Massachusetts, 5,966 member families Michigan, 194,564 member families Minnesota, 27,537 member families Mississippi, 199,502 member families Missouri, 104,160 member families Montana, 17,077 member families Nebraska, 55,646 member families New Mexico, 16,805 member families North Carolina, 549,583 member families North Dakota, 27,287 member families Ohio, 214,400 member families Pennsylvania, 55,398 member families Puerto Rico, 715 member families South Carolina, 112,234 member families South Dakota, 13,072 member families Tennessee, 655,129 member families Texas, 483,887 member families Vermont, 3,336 member families Wisconsin, 44,169 member families Wyoming, 12,053 member families
Colorado, 23,683 member families Connecticut, 7,239 member families Delaware, 8,324 member families Florida, 147,119 member families Hawaii, 1,952 member families Idaho, 68,311 member families Massachusetts, 5,966 member families Montana, 17,077 member families New Mexico, 16,805 member families North Carolina, 549,583 member families Pennsylvania, 55,398 member families South Dakota, 13,072 member families Texas, 483,887 member families Wyoming, 12,053 member families
Navigator states Alaska, 354 member families
PFB applauds new vehicle laws Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says farmers across the state have gained substantial relief from long-standing problems associated with locally operated agricultural vehicles now that Gov. Tom Corbett has signed legislation to update the state vehicle code. “The changes allow farmers to safely and legally move farm vehicles and equipment from field to field and field to farmstead, which should be especially helpful for farmers during planting and harvest seasons,” said Carl Shaffer, PFB president. Additional safety measures will also be required under certain conditions as part of the updated vehicle code. “Farmers strongly support enhancing safety measures on larger farm vehicles traveling on Pennsylvania roadways in order to protect drivers and passengers in other vehicles,” Shaffer said.
Newsmakers After serving nine years as the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and another 15 years on its board, Bill Bruins has announced that he will not be seeking another term. Bruins was first elected to WIFB’s board in 1988. He was chosen as the board’s vice president in 1997 and served in that post until 2003. Matt Blubaugh has joined the staff of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation as web developer. Previously, Blubaugh was interactive designer and developer for the Navicor Group and was lead flash developer and digital media specialist for SOS Video Communications. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation had several employees enter new roles this fall. Jim Gardner has been named chief financial officer and controller, following the retirement of Jim Christenson. Gardner has been a member of the IFBF family since 1996, serving as the finance and accounting manager. Jeremy Coyle has been named regional manager for region 11, which includes the counties of Boone, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Story. Coyle joined IFBF in 1997 and served as the senior producer/writer. Aaron Siskow
joins the marketing and communications staff as producer of digital multimedia services. Siskow was most recently the senior multimedia developer for Farm Bureau Financial Services. Colorado Farm Bureau announced that Troy Bredenkamp, executive vice president, will be leaving at the end of this year. Bredenkamp has been an administrative leader within the organization for the past seven years. Chad Vorthmann, current CFB vice president, has been named the new executive vice president, effective Jan.1. Vorthmann has more than 10 years of experience within the organization. Two new regional managers have been hired by Indiana Farm Bureau. Seth Harden will cover Crawford, Daviess, Martin, Lawrence, Orange and Perry counties in southwest Indiana. Chancey May will be in charge of Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Scott and Washington counties in southeast Indiana. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Mary Kay Thatcher was recently recognized by The Hill newspaper as one of the top lobbyists of 2012.
AFB, Inc. promotes Murphy Tiffany Murphy recently assumed the newly created position of assistant director of member benefits at American Farm Bureau, Inc. In this new role, Murphy will be responsible for the effective operation of member benefit programs and services to Farm Bureau members across the country. Of particular importance will be her management of AFB, Inc.’s soon-to-be-launched FB Member Advantage! website. Murphy joined AFB, Inc. in March 2011 as an administrative assistant. Prior to that, she worked as an account executive for Vovici, an enterprise feedback management company. In that role and her previous role at Oracle, Murphy managed all aspects of the sales cycle. Murphy graduated from American University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Here lies a family farm At the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau’s recent annual meeting the organization displayed a “Death Tax Cemetery” in which headstones commemorated the death of several farms and ranches whose family owners were forced to sell off pieces of their operation or go out of business completely to pay federal estate taxes. In addition, NMFLB members wrote to their congressmen on RIP stationary explaining how estate taxes affect them personally. Unless Congress acts, as of Jan. 1, the estate tax exemption will drop from the current $5 million to $1 million per person. The rate will climb from the 35 percent in place now to 55 percent.
December 10, 2012
Enlightening conference options at AFBF annual meeting Farm Bureau members attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual meeting in Nashville, Jan. 13-16, will be offered more than a dozen conferences on topics ranging from communicating the farm or ranch story and the economic outlook for the crops and livestock markets to using social media and being an influential advocate for agriculture. The first of three rounds of issue conferences will be from 3-4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13. The following are the topics that will be addressed during this round. Stories can be used to create change, build culture, disseminate learning and capture knowledge. In his interactive Telling Stories, Making Meaning session, best-selling author David Hutchens will reveal why storytelling is a key capability of leadership and guide attendees in thinking about the core stories behind their own leadership and careers. Hutchens, who has created many award-winning communications and learning solutions for well-known companies like Coca-Cola and GE, aims to give attendees a renewed sense of the power of storytelling and a new perspective on how to tell their own Farm Bureau and agricultural stories. The 2012 drought in the U.S. coupled with droughts around the world has kept stocks tight for a range of crops. During the 2013 Crop Outlook conference, Dr. Chad Hart will consider how this will affect crop prices in 2013. Hart is an associate professor and Extension economist at Iowa State University. Social media has pulled back the curtains of the agriculture industry to give transparency in a new, unique and exciting way.
As part of the Social Agriculture: Social Media’s Role in the Industry session, social media gurus, including Monsanto’s Janice Person and Zach Hunnicutt of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, will share how they started using social media to advocate for agriculture, how they’ve seen the role of social media evolve and what they’re doing today. At the Things You Can Do Today to Make a Difference Tomorrow conference, Roger Brooks, president and CEO of Destination Development International, will provide inexpensive marketing and community improvement actions that can be implemented immediately to increase local spending, attract visitors, extend visitor stays and increase sales. The second round of issue conferences will be at 8:30-9:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 14. Holly Green, CEO and managing director of THE HUMAN FACTOR, will lead the Reboot & Reload: Think Differently, Innovate & Win! session, which is designed to enable participants to see the world in a multitude of ways so that thinking differently becomes an everyday activity, not just something done as part of a team brainstorming exercise. During the 2013 Livestock Outlook, Dr. David Anderson, professor and Extension econo-
Country trio Edens Edge to take the stage at annual meeting
mist at Texas A&M University, will talk about what 2013 will bring for livestock and poultry producers who were challenged this year by high feed costs and disastrous pasture conditions. The session will cover both the risks and opportunities facing the livestock and poultry industries today and through 2013. Christopher Kush’s immersive training will explore five core conversations that happen when meeting new people, building relationships and influencing decision-makers. The Five Introductions: Being Influential and an Effective Advocate for Agriculture session will allow participants to master the core conversations in their own words so they are prepared to introduce themselves and interact more effectively with community leaders, elected officials, the news media and others. Kush is CEO of Soapbox Consulting. How Nashville Became Music City, led by author and historian Robert Oermann, will be a lively, entertaining and illustrated stroll through the city’s entertainment history. Oermann will explain how Nashville became a center for concert touring, song publishing, music recording and broadcasting. The third and final round of conferences will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14. Jamie Notter, vice president of Management Solutions Plus, will share how the more human-centered principles behind social media’s success could provide a model for innovating the way we lead and run organizations and businesses. During the What We’ve Learned From Social Media: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social
World conference, Notter will give practical examples of how attendees can change organizational culture, processes and behaviors in ways that tap into the power of being human, just like social media did. The future of U.S. energy policy is looking more and more to agriculture for solutions. Dale Arnold, director of energy, utility and local government policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau, will discuss some of the pitfalls and opportunities for farmers and ranchers considering opening their land up to energy development during the Energy Development on Your Farm: Obstacles and Opportunities conference. Farm Bureau was successful in securing several exemptions in the most recent surface transportation bill. The Transportation and Agriculture: Changes for Farmers in the 2012 Highway Bill session will allow participants to hear staff from the Pennsylvania, Missouri, South Carolina and Illinois Farm Bureaus discuss the differing expectations and regulations that states have imposed on farmers and ranchers, the work needed to secure these new exemptions and the ongoing implementation process. During the Maximizing Social Security, Medicare and Disability Benefits: Impacts on the Farm conference, Elaine Simmons will touch on Social Security-related topics such as when to start retirement benefits, how to maximize benefits, understanding the insured status provision for disability benefits and Medicare. Simmons draws from nearly 34 years of experience working in various jobs at all technical levels of Social Security. For more information about these and other events at AFBF’s annual meeting, visit http://www.fb.org/index.php ?action=events.annual, or contact your state Farm Bureau office.
Corner Post Christmas Tree Purchases (In Millions)
The three-part country music group Edens Edge will perform at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville during the opening general session on Sunday, Jan. 13. The Arkansas trio is composed of Hannah Blaylock, Dean Berner and Cherrill Green. Edens Edge is signed with the Nashville independent record label, Big Machine Records, and released its debut single “Amen” in April 2011. In the past year, the trio has earned new fans all over the country opening tours for Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Reba.
Source: National Christmas Tree Association
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Real 31.3 28.2 28.2 27.0 30.8
Fake 17.4 11.7 11.7 8.2 9.5