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Current Issues

 

Updated September 26, 2016

Presidential Contenders Weigh in on Issues Important to Farmers and Ranchers

Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers the most. AFBF asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump the same questions.

Both candidates were asked to explain their positions on biotechnology, trade, immigration reform, regulatory reform, food safety and more.

Candidates' responses on Regulatory Reform, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), Farm Bill, Biotechnology and Food Safety are currently available. Upcoming responses include:
  • September 27- Immigration
  • September 28- International Trade and TPP
  • September 29- Energy
  • September 30- Full List

The full list of candidate responses can be found here.

Senate Report Details Federal Overreach Under Clean Water Act

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a report on September 20 that exposes the administration's reckless and unlawful actions in enforcing the Clean Water Act, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

"The report shows in detail how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have used an overly expansive interpretation of their authority to regulate 'waters of the U.S.,'" said AFBF President Zippy Duvall in a statement.

"The case studies presented in the report reflect the serious concerns we have raised for more than two years now: the new 'Waters of the U.S.' rule takes the EPA's and Corps' longstanding regulatory overreach and gives it a new name," said Duvall. Further, "The agencies have persistently and unlawfully stretched the limited authority Congress gave them, even to the point of regulating ordinary plowing, a normal farming activity exempted by Congress. They have even claimed authority to regulate tire ruts and puddles found on the farm.

"The Waters of the U.S. rule, now stayed in federal court, will cement that lawless expansion of authority unless Congress acts to stop it. The time to rein in these agencies is now."

"It's time for the Senate to Ditch the Rule," said Duvall, urging the Senate to once again take up S. 1140 at its earliest opportunity.

Heavy Rainfall Impacts Manure Storage

Several agricultural groups participated in a conference call with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) on Friday, September 23. This call addressed concerns of recent heavy rainfalls in parts of Minnesota and their effects on manure storage basins.

As fall application of manure is approaching, many manure storage facilities are at, or near, capacity. Since the recent rains, a few basins have overreached their capacity and overflowed. MPCA asks farmers to contact the State Duty Officer if their manure storage basin is at threat of overflowing. Both state agencies and agriculture groups are in agreeance to continue communications and to develop contingency plans for fall application of manure to fields.

MPCA Article

AFBF Urges Caution on Ag Mergers

Farmers and ranchers know market forces have led to major company mergers like Bayer-Monsanto, but they cannot afford to lose access to technology and innovation if they go through, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Chief Economist Dr. Bob Young told the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 20.

"AFBF's had several-and repeated-assurances from the companies involved as to their intent to maintain as strong of innovation arm as they can," said Young. "We have no reason to doubt, but we also are reminded of the old line: trust, but verify."

Young noted the market for seeds, chemicals and crop nutrients is poised to shrink from six major companies to just three. He asked that regulators review these mergers not only in light of market concentration, but also the structure of the entire industry in a post-merger environment.

"Everyone's knee-jerk reaction is to think that increased concentration will lead to higher prices for these inputs," said Young. "Knees tend to jerk reflexively, but sometimes they jerk with reason."

Special Session Efforts Called Off

Efforts to hold a special session were called off on September 23 by Governor Dayton in a letter to Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown). More information can be found via Capitol Report.

Minnesota Farm Bureau PAC Announces Candidate Endorsements

The Minnesota Farm Bureau (state) Political Action Committee (MFB PAC) recently announced candidate endorsements in state political races that were interviewed after the previous announcement. This endorsement is in addition to the announcement made at the end of August.

Endorsement decisions are based upon candidate interviews and support for Farm Bureau policy. The PAC Committee is comprised of county Farm Bureau members from across the state.

The MFB PAC determined the endorsements of the following candidates, in addition to those announced at the end of August:

Minnesota Senate
District 6          David Tomassoni
District 11        Tony Lourey
District 14        Jerry Relph
District 18        Scott Newman

Minnesota House of Representatives
District 3A       Rob Ecklund
District 13A     Jeff Howe
District 14A     Tama Thies
District 33B     Cindy Pugh

Farm Bureau Election Resources

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) created a election resources website to offer farmers and ranchers critical information on the 2016 Presidential election. The website serves three key purposes: sharing news related to the campaign, housing issue briefs on Farm Bureau issues and providing access to candidate biographies, websites and other information.

Voting is that civic moment that everyone can feel proud of when they go to the polls and cast a ballot. This website ensures that candidates, campaigns, staff or members understand where Farm Bureau stands on the issues that are impacting farmers and ranchers, rural communities, as well as all of America.

Farm Bureau Election Information Website