Tag Archives: American Farm Bureau

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) today introduced a resolution recognizing the 100th anniversary of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and celebrating their long history representing farmers across the United States.

 

“For a century, American Farm Bureau has advocated and fought for agriculture and rural America,” said Sen. Moran. “This resolution honors AFBF and the countless contributions they and their over six million member families in all 50 states have had on our nation’s producers. Across the country, generations of Farm Bureau members contribute to production agriculture, give back to their communities and lead local organizations. I’m grateful to have Farm Bureau as a close partner in my efforts to strengthen rural economies, open markets for agricultural goods, advance rural 5G and digital infrastructure and inspire the next generation of ag leaders in Kansas and across the country.”

 

“For 100 years, the American Farm Bureau Federation has been a powerful voice for farmers and ranchers across America. Its steadfast commitment to supporting farm families is clear whenever I speak with AFBF representatives,” said Sen. Durbin. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues to honor the Farm Bureau during its centennial year, and I’ll remain committed to pushing for Illinois agricultural priorities that strengthen the economy and rural communities across the state.”

 

The legislation is authored by Sens. Moran and Durbin and is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 48 Senators including Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), James Lankford (R-Okla), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Coming off one of the worst years that we’ve ever had, knowing that the farm bill had been passed by the end of December was a relief that we weren’t expecting. Just before Christmas, we were still in the process of harvest, for a crop that we weren’t sure was worth the trip up and down the field. Dealing with natural disasters interfering with our progress is one thing – it’s another when it’s man-made interruptions that also impact our family farms.

What do I see as promising in the new farm bill? The opportunities for growth, trade and individualization within our farming businesses. I have four boys who are growing up before my eyes. They each have their own personalities, hopes, dreams and ideas about what their future may look like and now I can actually see some of that taking shape. I see potential and opportunity. Hemp? Hops? Barley? Vegetables? Some of the ideas that they have now look like they could become realities – with the ability to insure some of those crops that weren’t insurable before.

My community is excited for the potential of being able to amp up some of our local markets. We have a neighbor who raises hydroponic lettuce. For rural North Dakota, that’s huge. We can have local lettuce year-round. It’s an opportunity that, if replicated, can open many doors. But that can’t be done without support.

After the year we had in 2018, it’s difficult to want to encourage my children to continue the farming legacy we have worked generations to build. The hard work and long hours are difficult to justify when you miss out on big moments and have to defend your way of life to those who barely appreciate what you do, let alone understand it. And yet, the passing of this farm bill – following a year of perfect storms, during which our farms were hit from all sides by bad weather, tariffs, trade uncertainty, regulations, volatile markets and declining prices – gave me a glimmer of hope. Two sides of a very different coin were able to come together and agree that agriculture – and food – was important enough to not play games any longer. Perhaps that’s the lesson for all of us. Our crops will be eligible for insurance. In fact, more crops than ever before will be eligible for insurance. If we have another year like 2018, it will be a major determining factor in whether or not our family is able to continue farming for another year.

In a perfect world, my farm would not need a farm bill. In a perfect world, the markets would be open, prices would be fair and responsive to conditions and my day-to-day activities would consist of focusing on the crops that we love to raise. But if there is one thing that farming and ranching has taught me – it’s that a perfect world doesn’t exist. We have to play the hand we’re dealt and make the best of what we have. We also plan for a better tomorrow and do whatever we can to make sure that the next generation understands the importance of the lessons we have learned and that science and nature can work in harmony.

We do not look to the farm bill as an answer to the problems facing agriculture. Yet, with so many outside interferences that interrupt our day-to-day activities, there needs to be something in place that allows us a chance to be successful when we are good stewards of the land…and allows us to fail when we are not. I hope to one day look back on our farm and be able to see the future we have built taking shape. And for the first time in a long time, I can actually see that future. For that, I am thankful.

The Department of Labor has proposed modifications to job-advertising requirements for the H-2A guest worker program. Those modifications drew opposition by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The H-2A program provides visas for guest workers to fill agricultural positions for which domestic workers cannot be found. Currently, farmers looking to hire foreign workers through the H-2A program must first advertise the positions via a newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment.

DOL proposed changing that provision to instead require advertising the positons on the internet, citing greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency. DOL also pointed to data showing U.S. farmworkers vary rarely find employment via newspaper advertisements.

Farm Bureau said it “did not dispute” the DOL data, but noted that federal surveys also show “most farm workers find employment through friends, relatives or word-of-mouth.” The group also cited a DOL report that found “the use of online advertising is less common to rural areas and farm workers than it is in the general population.”

Another issue is that while “the placement cost of the job posting might be less online than in print, the overall costs for employers might well be greater even while protections for US workers remain unchanged,” Farm Bureau observed. As one example, Farm Bureau, in written comments to the proposal, said online job advertising platforms make it easy for unqualified workers to submit résumés even when they do not meet the minimum requirements for the position being advertised. The comments described an agricultural employer “who received hundreds of applicants — most of them vastly unqualified — in response to an online advertisement.”

Instead of moving forward with the current proposal, DOL should modify it to “allow the option of using either online or newsprint advertisements as a way of fulfilling the H-2A recruitment obligation,” Farm Bureau said. If DOL still wishes to transition to an online-only advertising requirement it should first “adopt a method to examine how well” online advertising works before proceeding.

“Only after such an evaluation should the department consider mandating online advertising or print advertisements,” Farm Bureau argued. “Additionally, should the department opt to eliminate print advertisements, it should only do so after publishing the results of its evaluation and engaging in a notice-and-comment process that affords employers the ability to comment on the department’s approach.”