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Stallman to ag critics: Circumstances have changed

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In his annual keynote address recently, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman issued a call to action to Farm Bureau members and a stern warning to critics that farmers and ranchers will no longer tolerate opponents' efforts to change the landscape of American agriculture. Stallman spoke at the organization's annual meeting in Seattle, Wash., which ran through Jan. 13.

Calling on Farm Bureau members to rally as one during these challenging times, Stallman said there are already too many external forces tugging at agriculture's seams without farmers and ranchers being divided amongst themselves.

"Emotionally charged labels such as monoculture, factory farmer, industrial food, and big ag threaten to fray our edges," said Stallman. "We must not allow the activists and self-appointed and self-promoting food experts to drive a wedge between us."

Stallman said that Farm Bureau continues to represent all farmers and ranchers, no matter their size of farm, commodity raised or political philosophy. Farmers' missions of feeding the nation and the world, caring for the environment and respecting neighbors' rights has not changed from when AFBF was founded in 1919. But the ways in which farmers and ranchers carry out their mission have changed, said Stallman, which is not understood or respected by critics of modern agriculture.

"A line must be drawn between our polite and respectful engagement with consumers and how we must aggressively respond to extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the day of 40 acres and a mule," said Stallman. "The time has come to face our opponents with a new attitude. The days of their elitist power grabs are over."

Stallman said curtailing such "power grabs" has never been as critical as it is now because of the poor economy, a growing population and legislative and regulatory efforts that threaten agriculture's ability to feed the world.

At the very time we need to increase our food production, climate change legislation threatens to slash our ability to do so," said Stallman. "The world will continue to depend on food from the United States. To throttle back our ability to produce food--at a time when the United Nations projects billions of more mouths to feed--is a moral failure."

Climate legislation currently in Congress would shift as much as 59 million acres of food production into forestry, which is equivalent to setting aside every acre of land used for crop and food production in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Stallman concluded by recalling a quote by General George Patton: "Make your plans to fit the circumstances."

"Our adversaries are skillful at taking advantage of our politeness. Publicly, they call for friendly dialogue while privately their tactics are far from that," said Stallman. "To those who expect to just roll over America's farm and ranch families, my only message is this: The circumstances have changed."



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