The American Farm Bureau Federation released highlights of its 2016 strategic action plan, which addresses public policy issues in the coming year. The plan is a result of deliberations of delegates to the AFBF's 97th Annual Convention in Orlando.
The board-approved plan focuses the organization's attention on a number of key issues including:
· Creating a more-positive dialogue with consumers about modern agricultural practices.
· Protecting farmers' ability to use biotech plant varieties and other innovative technologies.
· Opposing unlawful expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
· Moving forward with congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
'We will continue to work hard to protect the business of American agriculture on all fronts. This plan is an important roadmap to key issue areas that AFBF and our grassroots members will address in 2016,' said newly elected AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
The Environmental Protection Agency's new Waters of the U.S. rule remains among the most pressing issues in agriculture. Although presented as a water issue, the measure in fact would unlawfully regulate land in violation of the Clean Water Act itself. The rule takes over local and state authority while threatening private property rights and normal farming activity nationwide.
'EPA's blatant overreach is nothing short of a federal land grab,' Duvall said. 'The administration has refused to listen to business owners, local governments and lawmakers. The courts have ordered this rule temporarily stopped. The Government Accountability Office found EPA's actions illegal, and Congress — which originally gave EPA its authority under the Clean Water Act — called for an end to this rule. We won't give up until it's gone and farmers are free to care for their own land.'
AFBF's action plan also supports agricultural biotechnology that promises great benefits for agriculture, consumers and the environment.
'Farmers and ranchers need better tools to be more productive and efficient. We will continue to defend farmers' and ranchers' access to biotechnology and protect their right to use other promising new technologies, from data services to drones,' Duvall said.
The AFBF board reaffirmed its commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
'TPP promises to open up markets around the Pacific Rim. These are some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and America's farmers and ranchers are ready to expand business there,' Duvall said. 'We're ready to work with Congress to move this agreement forward for the overall good of U.S. agriculture.'
The action plan also places a special focus on food safety and security issues.
'Consumers should have the confidence that their food is safe and wholesome. As farmers, we want the best for our families and yours. We've made great strides in opening up the dialogue to help consumers understand more about modern agriculture, but there's a long way to go,' Duvall said. 'All consumers deserve access to safe, affordable food, and we will continue to protect agriculture's ability to meet that need.'
The AFBF board approved an additional list of issues that will require close monitoring as they develop over the course of 2016. Those issue areas include advancing legislation that addresses agriculture's long- and short-term labor needs, implementing business tax reform, monitoring the overall farm economy, and energy availability and affordability.