Stallman: Farmers ready to work with new administration
Marking the 90th year of the American Farm Bureau Federation, AFBF President Bob Stallman said Jan. 11 that Farm Bureau members are eager to work with the new Congress and President-elect Barack Obama's administration on the issues facing the United States. Stallman's comments opened the organization's 90th annual meeting.
"President-elect Obama has told us he wants discussion and constructive debate," Stallman said. "He wants a healthy agricultural economy and he likes decisions based on science. That is good news for Farm Bureau and agriculture."
Stallman issued a direct message to the incoming U.S. president: "We, the farmers and ranchers of Farm Bureau, are ready to roll up our sleeves and move forward. We feed the nation, and no matter which national priority--the economy, energy, immigration, trade, environment--that you choose to pursue, we are ready to hit the ground running."
Commenting on specific issues of interest to the Farm Bureau, Stallman focused on the need for a reliable supply of legal workers willing to work in agriculture.
"Too many of our current workers are unfortunately caught up in an immigration system that is broken," Stallman said. "And too often, farmers face the consequences. We urge Congress to enact meaningful immigration reform for agriculture now."
Stallman also called for an overhaul on global trade negotiations.
"Clearly, the Doha Round (of World Trade Organization) talks have stalled," he said. "Trade must be a tool for economic growth and not an excuse for erecting new barriers. We will work with any partner ready to find a new path forward to create real trade growth and development. Trade talks must focus on increasing trade, not preventing it."
The Environmental Protection Agency's new rule dealing with manure management on concentrated animal feeding operations brought this comment from Stallman: "We are challenging the rule in court based on our belief that EPA has exceeded its authority to regulate livestock farms under the Clean Water Act."
Members of Congress and the new administration are setting their sights on climate change, and Stallman said farmers and ranchers will be active in the debate.
"Where science indicates a real risk or harm, we will play our part in reducing or eliminating that risk," he said. "We also will caution lawmakers to make sure that science is not hijacked by those with a particular policy agenda."
Stallman renewed the call for a comprehensive energy plan that embraces all aspects of the nation's energy needs.
"I am proud to say that we successfully advocated for a strong energy title in the farm bill, part of which was to aid in the transition to cellulosic-based renewable energy," he said. "Ag-based energy such as biofuels, wind and electricity from waste digesters are capable of powering an important share of our nation's renewable energy future."