When plans are laid in advance, it is surprising how often circumstances fit in with them.
That said, Kansas farmers and ranchers who are a part of Farm Bureau, have singled out key issues they believe are crucial to ensure they will be able to operate their farms and ranches.
These issues include meeting agriculture’s long and short-term labor needs; protecting farmers’ abilities to use biotech plant varieties and other innovative technologies; opposing expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act; and advancing legislation that reforms the Endangered Species Act.
Farmers and ranchers understand the importance of clean water. They often live on the land they work. In many cases their water resources are on or near their property.
For generations, agricultural producers have embraced new technology related to conservation and frequently those moves also enhance the performance of their businesses. They believe in state-led, practical programs that are more in sync with their particular regions of the country.
Recent, ongoing federal initiatives, such as the Waters of the U.S. rule, would give the federal government almost unlimited power to dictate farming practices and impose complex and costly permitting schemes, regardless of need. Most Kansas farmers and ranchers are against such far-reaching overreach by the federal government.
The need for agricultural labor reform remains clear. Farmers and ranchers
need access to a legal, stable and reliable labor supply. America can either import our labor or import our food.
Kansas ag producers understand the difficulty of passing meaningful immigration reform that addresses the agricultural labor crisis and border issues. They also understand this must be done.
Farmers and ranchers continue to support biotechnology as a tool that will yield great benefits for agriculture, consumers and the environment. U.S. agriculture has always adhered to the principal of providing the safest food possible.
Many embrace biotechnology as a way to increase environmental stewardship while farming more efficiently and effectively. Future innovation in this area will open up a whole new level of possibility.
Addressing reform of Endangered Species Act regulations, ag producers understand the need to live in harmony with wildlife, especially those preventable extinction. Still the record of the Endangered Species Act is less than stellar. The ESA must be reformed to protect endangered species while allowing farmers and ranchers to use their land for food production.
Other issues Kansas farmers and ranchers will be working on include efforts to enhance international trade opportunities, business tax reform, farm bill implementation, the overall farm economy and energy availability and affordability.
President Obama’s recent State of the Union address held out a glimmer of hope that he and the Republican Congress might still work together. His words were reassuring, yet recent history has been anything but.
So many good things can be accomplished in this country of ours if leaders of both parties would work together. To succeed for the good of this country and its people we must remember politics is the art of compromise.
Farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across this nation acknowledge and support President Obama’s efforts to normalize trade and other relations with Cuba. Cuba remains off-limits to almost all American trade – a self-imposed tactic that has repeatedly failed to secure reforms.
American agriculture needs the same access to Cuban markets that so many other countries enjoy. Easing trade financing restrictions will go a long way toward providing access to Cuba’s 11 million consumers.
Farmers and ranchers are also encouraged by the president’s strong support for Trade Promotion Authority. This would give Congress the responsibility to vote yes or no on foreign-trade treaties without deal-killing amendments. Congress must pass bi-partisan TPA legislation to strengthen U.S. negotiating positions in future trade agreements.
And finally, tax laws must protect family farms – tax policies that do not punish capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches, and do not hinder sons and daughters from following the agricultural legacy of their parents.
America must continue to move forward. Working to bring these agricultural issues to fruition will go a long way to make this happen.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion