Farm Bureau president urges continued political involvement
» December 3, 2012 «
Calling on farmers and ranchers to help shape the future of agriculture through the same "dogged determination" they use in producing crops, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger urged unified action to address the many issues facing California agriculture.
During his address today to delegates attending the CFBF Annual Meeting in Pasadena, Wenger urged farmers and ranchers to maintain and enhance their political activities at a time when markets for many California crops and commodities have been strong.
"While we have been so successful at producing more crops and more valuable crops, and doing it on a sustainable, renewable basis, it doesn't always translate that our bottom lines have gone up," he said, noting continued increases in production costs. "That's why there's never been a time that is so critical to work together through Farm Bureau and other allied organizations to advocate for our industry."
Anticipating a number of issues expected to affect family farmers and ranchers in the coming year, Wenger pointed to the immediate concern about the so-called "fiscal cliff" facing policymakers in Washington, D.C. A group of spending cuts and tax increases will take effect Jan. 1, unless Congress and the administration reach agreement before then.
Wenger called the impact of the fiscal cliff "very real for our farmers and ranchers, especially when you talk about the estate tax," which would be among taxes that would rise on Jan. 1.
"While we would like to see the estate tax eliminated in general, we will need to work hard to make sure there are changes that will allow farm families to remain in agriculture," he said. "We know there will be an estate tax, but we need some kind of exemption for agriculture as long as the land remains in farming."
He also cited immigration reform and implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act as key federal issues, and said Farm Bureau would continue to establish relationships with elected officials at both the federal and state levels who represent urban and suburban districts.
"We have to get engaged, pool our resources and have a voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.," Wenger said. "If we don't lead the way, who will?"
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
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