Delegates at the 91st American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Seattle voted to support a balanced federal budget over the next eight years. The delegates said the federal deficit should be reduced each year, reaching a fully balanced budget by 2019. They said that federal spending on government services and entitlements must be reduced. Earlier, delegates voted to oppose cap-and-trade climate legislation.
Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman was re-elected for a sixth two-year term. He is a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas, and previously served as Texas Farm Bureau President. In addition, Barry Bushue was re-elected to a second two-year term as AFBF vice president. Bushue is a berry and nursery plant producer from Boring, Oregon, and also serves as Oregon Farm Bureau President. Both re-elections were unanimous.
"Congress should focus on renewable energy that is better for the environment and our domestic energy security," Stallman said. "But, it should not tie the hands of U.S. producers, whose productivity, historically, has provided the world's food safety net. We should not shrink U.S. agriculture at the very time when many are concerned about how to feed a growing global population."
In other action during the business session at the meeting, Farm Bureau delegates called for meaningful relief from the estate tax, with no conditions or qualifications. They said that an increase in the overall exemption would be Farm Bureau's main priority. They also reaffirmed their support for full stepped-up basis at the time of death in order to reduce the capital gains tax burden on farm and ranch heirs. Also on taxes, the delegates opposed the imposition of any health-related taxes on foods or beverages.
The delegates approved policy supporting changes to the Federal Milk Marketing Order structure, formulas and price classes used to compute milk prices, in order for those prices to reflect current market conditions, enhance transparency and account for regional differences in the cost of milk production. However, they rejected dairy supply management as a means to bolster dairy product prices, saying Farm Bureau remains supportive of a market-oriented dairy program.
On farm policy, the delegates affirmed their support for the current farm program and continued their support for a mandatory country-of-origin labeling program, as enacted in the 2008 Farm Bill. They also called for a workable ad hoc disaster program and approved a new policy calling for a specialty crops title in future farm bills, along with additional research programs and promotion of U.S. specialty crops.