With Congress now on a five-week vacation lawmakers are likely to get an earful from U.S. farmers.
The American Farm Bureau is urging its members to discuss with lawmakers how the EPA Clean Water Act rule and lack of immigration reform will affect life on the farm. In addition, the AFBF Friday expressed disappointment at the failure of World Trade Organization trade talks in Geneva this week.
"With mid-term elections just around the corner, farmers are taking this prime opportunity to share stories of how regulations like the EPA's latest waters of the U.S. rule and immigration reform directly affect their livelihood," AFBF said in a news release Friday.
AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a statement that "environmental over-regulation and unworkable immigration rules are serious threats to American agriculture. We need action sooner than later on both of these issues."
AFBF said in the news release that its members have been "spreading the word" on the EPA's waters of the U.S. rule.
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"Twelve thousand farm bureau members have already submitted comments to the EPA in opposition to the rule," AFBF said. "With more than 205,000 comments submitted to the EPA's public docket, it's time for Congress to listen up and take action to stop the EPA before it's too late."
In addition, AFBF said agricultural labor reform is "essential" to keeping American farms robust. "Farm bureau recently redoubled its efforts to raise awareness of agriculture's need for immigration reform by joining with the Partnership for a New American Economy on a new digital ad campaign," the group said. "Videos, infographics and #IFarmImmigration tweets tell stories of how a broken immigration system is hurting farmers like Bernie Thiel, who had to destroy some of his crops for two years in a row when he was unable to find the workers he needed to harvest.
"A farmer should never have to destroy a crop due to the lack of an adequate labor force," Stallman said in a statement. "If that situation doesn't illustrate the clear need for agricultural labor reform, I'm not sure what will."
About the WTO trade talks, Stallman said something needs to be done to expand U.S. agriculture markets.
"Improving slow and out-of-date customs procedures supports all kinds of international trade, but agricultural goods need speedier passage across borders, especially," he said. "Time spent waiting at borders too often results in a substantial decline in food quality and direct economic losses to U.S. producers. When trade slows, the American farmer suffers.
"We know that some countries want greater freedom to subsidize and stockpile food. The Trade Facilitation Agreement reached in Bali came about only after negotiators agreed that some countries should be allowed to subsidize and stockpile food for citizens who have difficulty paying for it. Now, it seems, India wants a final agreement on that issue before they will move forward with customs reform. We understand their eagerness to settle that issue, but this intransigence represents a failure to honor previous promises."
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