Delegates to the National Farmers Union Convention have adopted special orders of business calling on policy makers to consider the unique challenges facing rural America when debating policy solutions regarding the nation's livestock markets; energy needs; dairy crisis; federal farm programs and the Estate Tax.
Concerning livestock markets, NFU strongly believes regulations must be promulgated to protect family farmers and ranchers along with increased oversight of the commodity markets in order to keep speculators from driving prices to artificial highs, which would result in a ripple effect through all sectors of agriculture. NFU says it is important to enforce and strengthen the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration authority.
Concerning energy NFU asks USDA to: promulgate rules and to administer an agricultural offset program; set no artificial cap on domestic offset allowances; Use science in establishing carbon sequestration rates; recognize early actors; allow for stackable credits; and minimizes potential negative effects to agriculture and rural communities such as increased input costs, elevated electricity costs and decreased global competitiveness.
NFU outlined several specific provisions dairy policy should include in order to alleviate the burden of the economic downturn. Delegates focused strongly on considerations of the current and future dairy situations urging to strive to dampen the instability of milk prices as much as possible.
NFU Delegates also called on policy makers to ensure any reduction in the agriculture spending budget will be at the same percentage across all federal programs and congressional committees. NFU also want to preserve agricultural programs such as crop insurance; permanent disaster relief; dairy and commodity supports; the Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers; the no-cost sugar program; and other federal initiatives to strengthen agricultural and rural economies.
On estate taxes, NFU will continue to advocate for a permanent estate tax exemption at $4 million dollars per person, $8 million per couple, subject to annual indexing with a step up bases. NFU also calls for the exemption qualification rules and requirements to be simplified to facilitate a more seamless and less economically troubling transition between generations of farm families.
Health care was another issue delegates addressed. They called on policy makers to address several provisions when considering future health care legislation including a publicly-run health insurance plan, adequate financial assistance for low- and middle-income families, incentives that attract health care professionals to rural areas, and federal support for rural hospitals.