Section 1 - Rural Living / Labor / Transportation

Section 1 - Rural Living / Labor / Transportation

GOVERNMENT 

101 / Civil Rights

1.             We strongly oppose discrimination against persons on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin or handicapped status.

2.         We further oppose:

2.1.      Minority business funding quotas;

2.2.      The use of federal funds by any institution or agency that discriminates on the basis of any of the factors set forth above;

2.3.      Expansion of remedies available under present civil rights laws to include compensatory, punitive damages and attorneys' fees;

2.4.      Legislation, or regulation, that directly or indirectly results in implementing hiring quotas as a defense against allegations of discriminatory hiring practices; and

2.5.      Any program which tends to separate, isolate, segregate or divide the people of our country under the guise of emphasizing ethnic diversity.

3.         We support: 

3.1.      Amending 42 USC Section 1988 of the United States Code to stop the funding of attorney fees in civil rights cases with taxpayer dollars for special interest groups; and

3.2.      Working service animals be clearly marked and harnessed before entering a place of business.

102 / The Constitution

1.             Stable and honest government with prescribed and limited powers is essential to freedom and progress.

2.         The U.S. Constitution is well-designed to secure individual liberty by a division of authority among the legislative, executive and judicial branches and the diffusion of government powers through retention by the states and the people of those powers not specifically delegated to the federal government.

3.         The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and changes in the original intent and meaning should be made only through constitutional amendments.

4.         We reaffirm that the Constitution supersedes any and all treaties with foreign nations.

5.         We fully expect elected and appointed officials to fulfill their promise to uphold and defend the Constitution.

6.         We demand the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

7.         We support:

7.1.      Educational activities to teach the history of and the importance of the Constitution;

7.2.      A third mechanism to amend the Constitution that allows states to initiate a constitutional amendment. When 34 states have adopted an identical proposed amendment, Congress will adopt the proposed amendment as a congressional proposal, return it to the 50 states, requiring ratification by three-fourths of the states;

7.3.      English be established by law as the official language of the United States;

7.4.      Our constitutional right as individuals to own and to bear arms; 

7.5.      A constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer in all "walks of life," particularly in our schools, sporting events and governing bodies at the local, state and federal levels; 

7.6.      A constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget; and

7.7.      The Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that Congress approve major new federal regulations.  

8.         We oppose:

8.1.      Amending the Constitution to change the current eligibility requirements to become President of the United States; 

8.2.      The centralization of power and responsibility in the federal government because it violates the Constitution;

8.3.      A constitutional convention;

8.4.      Encroachment on the constitutional prerogatives of each branch of the federal government by the other branches;

8.5.      Statehood for Washington, D.C.;

8.6.      Any proposal to establish a national identification card that would be used for any purpose affecting U.S. citizens; 

8.7.      Government censorship of free speech, such as the Fairness Doctrine;

8.8.      The use of paramilitary personnel, equipment and tactics by federal, state or local agencies when interacting with peaceful and lawful public demonstrations; and

8.9.      The construction of “free speech zones” by federal, state or local agencies as a means to harass and limit a citizen’s free speech rights.

103 / Elections

1.             The federal government should not be involved directly in the elective process in any way, but should recommend certain uniform guidelines to the states to assure fair and proper elections.

2.         We support:

2.1.      A national effort to require registered voters to show photo identification when reporting to the polling place to receive a ballot;

2.2.      Voters being required to register in person a minimum of 30 days prior to the election;

2.3.      Proof of citizenship being a prerequisite for voter registration;

2.4.      Voter registration being recorded rapidly to reduce duplicate registrations;

2.5.      Repeal of laws mandating use of multilingual ballots in public elections because a common language is essential to a unified country;

2.6.      Retention of the Electoral College for presidential elections and electors being required to vote for the candidates to which they were pledged;

2.7.      The use of leadership Political Action Committees (PACs) under federal election law;

2.8.      Changing the present election laws to limit compulsory union dues or any other compulsory mechanism, from being used in any way to influence federal or state elections; 

2.9.      Efforts to further consolidate elections in order to streamline the system and reduce taxpayers' expense; and

2.10.    The ability to include auto political phone calls in the do-not-call list for individuals.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Proposals to make the popular vote the sole determinant of presidential elections;

3.2.      Changes that restrict or curtail the right of an individual citizen, or any group of citizens, the right to express themselves as guaranteed by the First Amendment; 

3.3.      The use of public funds and franking privileges in the financing of political campaigns;

3.4.      Government support, grants or other funding of organizations for political activity;

3.5.      The use of the Internet for voting in any local, state, or federal election; and

3.6.      The news media reporting election results and exit poll results prior to the closing of all polling places.

104 / Executive Branch

1.             We recommend that the executive branch:

1.1.      Exercise restraint in seeking broad, discretionary powers from Congress;

1.2.      Avoid interpreting laws beyond the scope affirmatively spelled out by Congress;

1.3.      Refrain from issuing executive orders which exceed constitutional and statutory guidelines and withdraw any orders which exceed such guidelines;

1.4.      Be prohibited from binding the United States to future international conventions or treaties that do not undergo the same risk/benefit analysis required of U.S. laws and regulations; and

1.5.      Be allowed to use presidential line item veto.

2.         We oppose the executive branch creating positions, such as czars, that are not elected and not accountable and are duplicating and usurping responsibility from other departments and agencies.

105 / Freedom of Information

1.             The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a valuable tool for the collection of information from federal agencies. We support continued vigilance in protecting the public's right to access government and other public records. Federal agencies should respond within 120 days or less to all requests for information to allow greater public scrutiny of their decisions. The lack of effective response to a FOIA request shall serve to extend other administrative deadlines.

2.         We oppose the disclosure of personal and/or business information by an organization, business or agency about individuals. The release of any information should only be allowed by specific written or electronic authorization of the individual, or any private business entity.

3.         Any personal information provided to any government agency should be required to stay within that agency. Any agency responding to a FOIA or interagency request should be required to comply with current law and not release personal, private or confidential business information without the consent of the person who submitted the information.

106 / Judicial Branch

1.             We believe in an independent judiciary, impartial administration of law without special privilege and issuance of judicial decisions based upon law and not the personal opinion of a judge. 

2.         The judicial function should be performed by the judicial branch and not by executive agencies.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Judicial decisions based upon legislative intent;

3.2.      Appointment of Supreme Court Justices with the best qualifications, including a minimum of 10 years of experience in a state supreme court or a federal court;

3.3.      The rights of the victim being at least equal to those of the accused or convicted;

3.4.      Legislative or judicial processes to prevent judges from releasing criminals on technicalities after a jury renders a guilty verdict;

3.5.      Division of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to add a 12th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah; and

3.6.      A requirement that judges be citizens of the United States in order to be appointed to the bench.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Courts overlooking the rights of the victim in an overzealous effort to protect the accused or convicted;

4.2.      Any configuration of a court district combining Nevada and California;

4.3.      Lifetime appointment of judges; 

4.4.      Using any foreign, secular or religious law, policy or treaty; and

4.5.      Judicial deference to agency interpretation of laws.

107 / Legislative Branch

1.             Congress must assume the responsibility to preserve our federal system by reversing the trend toward centralization of authority in the executive and judicial branches.

2.         Congress, government agencies and their employees should be subject to the same laws as are the people of the United States.

3.         We call upon Congress to amend existing laws which govern the power and authority of regulatory agencies to provide that in every instance a person accused of a violation shall be deemed innocent until proven guilty and urge that all future laws follow this principle.

4.         We urge Congress to:

4.1.      Avoid delegation of broad, discretionary powers to the executive branch and its regulatory agencies;

4.2.      Enact corrective or conforming legislation where the Supreme Court or Appellate Courts have invaded the legislative area;

4.3.      Place less emphasis on passing new laws that further restrict the freedom of Americans and, instead, give greater emphasis to its oversight responsibility so that the original intent of Congress will be better implemented by the administrative agencies;

4.4.      Enforce a code of ethics clearly delineating the conduct and activities that should be expected of its member; and

4.5.      Expand oversight of the rulemaking process.

5.         We support:

5.1.      Each tax increase being voted on by a roll call vote; 

5.2.      Regulations promulgated as a result of congressional action being reviewed by the congressional committee of jurisdiction prior to implementation to ensure that the legislative intent is being followed;

5.3.      The Senate confirming or denying, within 90 days, the President's judicial nominations; 

5.4.      Reading of legislation be required before voting; and

5.5.      All bills being publicly available three days before a vote is taken. 

6.         We oppose:

6.1.      Automatic tax increases;

6.2.      Public officials leaving office from taking employment with those they formerly regulated for a period of two years;

6.3.      Taxpayer dollars used to hire lobbyists, the use of government work facilities, and/or salaried work time by executive branch government agency officials to influence the outcome of legislation or proposed regulations; 

6.4.      Open-ended land purchase authorization that would allow federal agencies to purchase additional land without Congressional approval; 

6.5.      Any federal programs taking over private sector responsibilities; and

6.6.      Unfunded mandates.

108 / Patriotism

1.             We support:

1.1.      Our armed forces defending our freedom;

1.2.      Teaching the flag code in the schools and practicing it when displaying the American Flag;

1.3.      Regular recitation and explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance using the English language; 

1.4.      Keeping "The Star-Spangled Banner," in English, as our U.S. national anthem; and

1.5.      Patriotic acts, such as performance of the national anthem and pledge to the flag of the United States, at the start of public events and in public schools.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The desecration of the American flag; and

2.2.      The purging of United States history by the removal of symbols that represent historic events and/or persons from our nation’s past.

109 / Qualifications and Compensation for Congress and Federal Officials

1.             We believe that compensation and benefit packages for federal officials must be commensurate with the high level of competence and dedication required to properly manage the federal government.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Pay and pension legislation being voted on as a separate issue and not be tied to unrelated legislation; 

2.2.      Pension benefits of elected officials or former elected officials who have been convicted of a felony being denied;

2.3.      We recommend Congress establishing a limit on government-funded expenses for former presidents and/or their spouses;

2.4.      Termination of tax dollar support for maintenance of presidential libraries and they be maintained by private donation; 

2.5.      A freeze on legislative salaries during periods of federal budget deficit; and 

2.6.      All elected officials at the national level must fully disclose all sources of income annually by May 1.

3.         We oppose any pay increase for Congress without a balanced budget.


110 / Regulatory Review and Reform

1.             When a court finds that a federal agency is in violation of the law, the landowner that is in compliance with the agency rules should not be held liable for the agency's error. Landowners should be able to continue under the existing rules until the matter is settled and new rules are properly adopted.

2.         All federal agencies shall be held to the strictest interpretation of law when setting regulations. No federal agency shall be allowed to legislate through their regulatory power.

3.         The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or any other government agency should not pass any rule that involves fines and/or imprisonment of citizens, or changes the way citizens normally do business, without the approval of a majority of Congress.

4.         The EPA shall be required to coordinate with the USDA in the development of conservation and clean air and water regulations impacting agriculture. Specific efforts should be made to oversee and to reform the inspection and rule-making authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and EPA.

5.         Federal agencies should work with the regulated community to correct problems through improved education and compliance assistance, rather than fines, penalties and prosecution.

6.         Prior to proposing any major federal regulation, action agencies shall consult with states regarding federalism concerns expected to be raised by a proposed rule. The action agencies shall respond to those concerns in the administrative record for a final rule. Failure to adequately consult and respond to federalism concerns raised by states should lower the level of deference afforded to the action agencies in any future judicial review of that final regulation.

7.         Communication made by federal agencies that support or oppose a proposed rule, legislative bill or other government action, whether directed to the public or Congress, should be prohibited.  Any public communication setting forth an agency’s interpretation of a proposed rule must be first published in the Federal Register.

8.         We believe:

8.1.      The purpose of federal regulation should be limited;

8.2.      That agencies should enforce existing regulations prior to promulgating additional regulations on related matters;

8.3.      When publishing proposed federal rules, regulatory changes or significant actions, publication of the action in the Federal Register often does not provide adequate notice to all stakeholders. Federal agencies should also provide notice of proposed federal rules, regulatory changes or other significant actions directly to targeted stakeholders, stakeholder communities as well as organizations representing affected parties;

8.4.      That all federal regulations should be required to follow important policy principles including:

8.4.1.   Recognition that property rights are the foundation for resource production and must be protected;

8.4.2.   Regulations should be based on sound scientific data that can be replicated and peer reviewed;

8.4.3.   More transparency and communication regarding rule development and interpretation;

8.4.4.   Risk assessment analysis should be conducted prior to final action;

8.4.5.   An estimate of the costs and benefits associated with public and private sector compliance action must be conducted prior to final action;

8.4.6.   Actions must allow for flexibility to suit varying local conditions;

8.4.7.   Actions should be subject to independent analysis and public scrutiny;

8.4.8.   Alternatives to the action must be thoroughly and publicly considered, especially market-based incentives;

8.4.9.   Actions must properly acknowledge and provide for the reality, practicality and limitations of doing business in the affected sector;

8.4.10. Presumption of innocence as opposed to the current presumption of guilt should be strengthened;

8.4.11. A measurement of the cumulative impact of federal actions affecting production agriculture prior to the implementation of any federal actions impacting agriculture;

8.4.12. Limiting the ability to intervene in regulatory actions to only those parties that can demonstrate they are directly affected by the alleged violation;

8.4.13. Limiting the ability for third parties to utilize federal or state funds for legal assistance to file lawsuits against county, state or federal governments; and

8.4.14. Giving financial support to property owners in order to comply with any new governmental regulations.

8.5.      That all congressional or federal actions creating new administrative agencies or giving new responsibilities to existing agencies should include specific termination dates;

8.6.      That all federal regulations should have sunset provisions;

8.7.      That Congress should provide for strong congressional oversight of regulatory and significant agency actions as well as a willingness to override unacceptable agency actions;

8.8.      Environmental impact statements (EIS) findings and requirements should be balanced with a cost-benefit analysis of proposed regulations or agency actions;

8.9.      That zero-base budgeting should apply to federal agencies as a method of regulatory reform and fiscal responsibility;

8.10.    That federal agencies should be required to give advance notice not less than 30 days prior to any field hearing or informational meeting;

8.11.    That if inspections are warranted, to the extent possible, we believe federal agencies should schedule and conduct inspections of farms and processing facilities in advance of the growing, harvesting and processing seasons;

8.12.    No regulatory action shall be taken against landowners based upon satellite or aerial imagery; and

8.13.    That agency orders demanding corrective action should allow reasonable time for compliance. At the time of an inspection, the inspector should be required to leave a signed, dated copy of his report with the owner, or operator, of the inspected facility.

9.         We support:

9.1.      Legislation to amend existing laws to reduce and eliminate burdensome federal regulations;

9.2.      The immediate review and revision of existing federal regulations to limit promulgation only to rules that are essential to the protection of human health and public safety;

9.3.      Development of an annual comprehensive report to the American people, which should provide a thorough evaluation of the following:

9.3.1.   Effectiveness and efficiency of all federal agencies;

9.3.2.   The total cost and impacts of federal regulatory burden on the private sector economy;

9.3.3.   The effectiveness of the reduction in risk/threat demonstrated by federal regulatory implementation; and

9.3.4.   Non-regulatory options that may be effective alternatives to reduce targeted risk/threat at a lower cost to the private sector;

9.4.      Efforts to streamline the transportation project delivery process to reduce unnecessary time delays including:

9.4.1.   Simplifying the environmental process for projects with few impacts;

9.4.2.   Involving appropriate reviewing agencies early in the process to help expedite overall project schedules; and

9.4.3.   Requiring greater coordination among federal reviewing agencies and setting time limits for their review.

9.5.      Immediate simplification, improvement, streamlining of, as well as a comprehensive congressional review of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Such improvements should include requiring the following of federal agencies:

9.5.1.   Consideration of economic impacts to areas directly affected by regulations;

9.5.2.   Consideration of the cumulative impacts of all regulations proposed;

9.5.3.   Compliance by Native American tribes with NEPA, regardless whether the land is held in trust status by the Bureau of Indian Affairs;

9.5.4.   Details of the time and costs involved in conducting environmental evaluations (Environmental Assessments and EIS) should be publicly reported with an agency-by-agency accounting breakdown for the resources required for initial planning of NEPA activities; and

9.5.5.   A full EIS in accordance with NEPA when an alternative is chosen and requires further action under a “programmatic” EIS. Public comments must be taken on the specific action and location chosen.

9.6.      More vigorous congressional scrutiny of agencies to prohibit regulatory agencies from administering laws, to deter adoption of agency rules and actions that circumvent statutory intent;

9.7.      Meaningful stakeholder representation by affected sectors on regulatory boards and commissions as well as a willingness to override unacceptable agency actions;

9.8.      Application of the Department of Defense ethics and conflict of interest policies to all federal regulatory agencies;

9.9.      Federal officers recusing themselves from decision making in all circumstances in which they may allow their personal views to unethically affect their work as public employees;

9.10.    The establishment of appropriate provisions, within the power of the federal government, to provide for consequences for federal officers if they misrepresent facts or sources or lie about matters that impact citizens and businesses;

9.11.    The policy that the comment period for federal rules and significant actions be no less than 60 days;

9.12.    Federal agencies' ability to purchase "off-the-shelf" supplies for purchases of less than $2,500;

9.13.    Government inspection and enforcement activities being paid for by general revenue funds. Fines imposed by federal agencies should be credited to the general fund and not be used to further fund that agency; 

9.14.    Passage of laws that specifically define and prohibit the harassment of citizens by federal, state, county or municipal employees; 

9.15.    Significant budget cuts and sanctions against government agencies that continue to expand their regulatory authority against the will of Congress and the citizens of the United States.  Employees of government agencies should be barred from making unsolicited comments on the proposed changes during a public comment period;

9.16.    Providing an opportunity to remedy any violation of a federal agency rule before the payment of fines, unless the violation rises to the level of a felony; and

9.17.    A means of producer input for all federally appointed positions affecting agriculture.

10.       We oppose:

10.1.    The establishment and/or operation of any political advocacy group by federal regulatory agencies;

10.2.    Any consumer agency or council having any federal authority other than advisory powers;

10.3.    Federal regulations on generally accepted agricultural practices;

10.4.    The EPA enforcing any new rules or regulations that are being litigated until said legal proceedings are completed; 

10.5.    Government departments and agencies becoming members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or forming public/private partnerships with organizations that are members of the IUCN;

10.6.    Use by federal agencies of social media to communicate with the public about proposed rules, other than to notify the public of the opportunity to submit comments to the Federal Register and to post information published in the Federal Register; and

10.7.    Use by federal agencies of government resources to communicate to the public urging support of regulations while the agency seeks public comments.

111 / School & Government Food Purchasing Programs

1.             School food programs have helped to establish proper dietary habits among young people. 

2.         We support:

2.1.      School meals being balanced to provide no less than one-third of the recommended daily dietary allowances;

2.2.      The use of nutritional beverages such as milk, vegetable and fruit juices;

2.3.      Increased use of dairy products and increasing the selection of food products derived from U.S. agriculture. 

2.4.      Requiring schools to offer all pasteurized fluid milk and milk products, including whole milk, as part of the school lunch program without losing federal subsidies;

2.5.      Those school systems which have added fruit and salad bars to their menu choices and encourage other school systems to do so; 

2.6.      Tried and proven menus for school lunches containing fruits, vegetables, bread, meats and milk;

2.7.      The recent increase in all fruit and vegetable offerings;

2.8.      Expanding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to all schools throughout the United States and its territories;

2.9.      Incorporating all types and forms of fruits and vegetables domestically grown within the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program giving priority to fresh and locally grown when available; 

2.10.    The use of more U.S. red meat, poultry and fish, as well as other farm products in the school lunch program;

2.11.    Greater flexibility with the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs to ensure local school districts are able to determine how to meet the nutritional needs of their students;

2.12.    Schools being able to use seasonings and condiments to enhance the flavor of food;

2.13.    The donation of agricultural commodities to schools participating in the national school food program and oppose any efforts to change to cash or letters of credit in lieu of U.S.-produced commodities;

2.14.    The use of U.S.-produced agricultural commodities and products in school food and nutritional programs and the P.L. 480 export program;

2.15.    Full funding for the current pilot program for an international school lunch program using American-produced products;

2.16.    The placement of vending machines that serve domestic agriculture products in schools;

2.17.    USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) taking into consideration bids for school lunch and other government contracts from small businesses; 

2.18.    Improvement in school meals programs; 

2.19.    Local farm-to-school programs; and

2.20.    Schools having the discretion of using unused food for programs such as after-school child care, snacks, backpack programs and food banks.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Mandatory caloric limits and mandatory limits on lean meat, protein and dairy;

3.2.      The 12-ounce limit on milk sold in middle schools and high schools as a “competitive food” as regulated by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act;

3.3.      USDA's reduction of the minimum requirement for red meat in the school food program;

3.4.      The inclusion of carbonated soft drinks in the federally funded school lunch program; and

3.5.      Any attempt by USDA to substitute yogurt in place of red meat in the school lunch program.

112 / States' Rights

1.             We support the protection and defense of state rights, and state sovereignty over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. The federal government must respect state laws and state agencies.

2.         Public functions should be performed by the qualified unit of government closest to the people without coercion by administrative agencies of higher units of governments.

3.         All lands within the boundaries of a state, excluding land designated as military reserve, shall be subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the state.

4.         We oppose federal legislation which mandates programs unless federal funding for such programs is provided on a continuing basis through existing state and local agencies.

5.         We ask that the county commissioners from each county formally request in writing that the federal government and state agencies direct their employees to consult with the county government prior to implementing any laws, statutes, or U.S. codes which would affect the economy, customs and culture of their county.

INFRASTRUCTURE 

125 / Highways

1.             We support:

1.1.      Increasing the Federal Highway Trust Fund fees to reflect increases in fuel economy and inflation, with additional revenue directed to the Highway Account of the Federal Highway Trust Fund for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges;

1.2.      Maintaining the separation of the Federal Highway Trust Fund from the unified federal budget;

1.3.      Revenue collection efforts on those users who do not currently contribute to the Federal Highway Trust Fund due to increased mileage standards, electric vehicles or alternative fuels;

1.4.      Elimination of the federal highway use tax on farm trucks. Until such action is taken, we will support legislation raising the exemption for trucks from the federal highway use tax from 7,500 to 22,500 miles;

1.5.      Harvest-season permits allowing maximum weight limits of 100,000 pounds apply to federal highways except where additional axles are permitted;

1.6.      Requiring federal and state revenue agents checking for fuel tax compliance to obtain owner permission or search warrants to enter private property, and that all surprise inspections be conducted in the public domain;

1.7.      U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to allow axle and gross weight tolerances for the transport of farm products on interstate highways in states where the tolerances are permitted on state roads;

1.8.      The effort to identify the most significant issues now facing local roads and bridges and urge that recommendations be developed to deal with these concerns;

1.9.      Legislation with continued emphasis on the development of secondary, farm-to-market roads and adequate funding for roads and maintenance of bridges;

1.10.    Allowing more flexibility in the use of federal highway construction funds at the state level for the purpose of maintaining primary and secondary roads;

1.11.    Funding for resurfacing, rehabilitating, repairing and reconstructing the nation's interstate highways as many have passed their designed life span;

1.12.    An amendment to the federal highway program to give the preservation of prime farmland the same standing as the preservation of parkland, wildlife preserves and similar lands;

1.13.    Efforts to bring about greater uniformity and reciprocity among states on truck regulations;

1.14.    The provisions of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 that permit, within reasonable guidelines, the leasing of billboard space for advertising purposes and oppose legislation or regulations, which would deny this right. We believe the act should be amended to support the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 by allowing farmers to use roadside signs to advertise their farm markets or u-pick operations, which sell direct to consumers;

1.15.    A comprehensive highway safety program to reduce traffic fatalities, injuries and the destruction of property;

1.16.    The uniform interpretation and application of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations by enforcement agencies;

1.17.    The relaxation of environmental impact regulations affecting the construction of federal, state and county roads and bridges;

1.18.    Reimbursement from the federal government for the mandates associated with the rule changes to the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Control Devices that became effective in 2008;

1.19.    Streamlining the process for permitting, funding, construction of federal aid transportation projects;

1.20.    All states adopting the EZ Pass program;

1.21.    Efforts to allow low-mileage operations to pay a flat annual fee in lieu of submitting quarterly reports as a means of complying with the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA);

1.22.    Exempting farmers and custom harvesters from requirements to obtain commercial driver’s license (CDL) when transporting agricultural commodities including forestry products, production inputs, and harvesting equipment between farms and markets; 

1.23.    Load securement regulations being based on the best available science to safely transport that particular load;

1.24.    DOT subjecting all foreign truck drivers and their trucks to the same safety rules and regulations as domestic drivers and their trucks;

1.25.    The exemption held by states for transportation of hazardous materials by farmers and ranchers;

1.26.    Modifying regulations concerning farm-licensed trucks to facilitate the transportation of farm produce and supplies across state lines, including the DOT and Interstate Fuel Tax between federal and state laws and regulations, we support legislation making state laws the governing authority, where state standards are less stringent than federal;

1.27.    Making federal regulations for obtaining a medical card uniform with those for obtaining a CDL;

1.28.    The repeal of Title 23, Section 133(d) (2) of the U.S. Code since ten percent of all federal highway use funds are spent for off-road enhancement;

1.29.    Flexibility for states to determine the distribution of federal highway monies among highway projects;

1.30.    States' retention of authority to regulate the intrastate hauling of hazardous material and oppose federal preemption of the same. The regulations should account for the special needs of agriculture and their potential cost to farmers;

1.31.    Federal legislation to exempt low mileage trucks (15,000 miles per year for agricultural purposes and 5,000 miles per year for all others) from mandatory post-rip inspection to only those carriers operating six or more commercial motor vehicles;

1.32.    Allowing farm trucks that are mandated to have annual inspections to be allowed bi-annual inspections if driven less than 7,500 miles per year;

1.33.    Regulatory changes to allow "Farm Vehicle Drivers," as defined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, to be exempt from the driver qualifications when transporting materials that require making and placarding, and from the hours-of-service requirements;

1.34.    Exempting part-time employees (500 hours or less annually) from the requirement to obtain a CDL;

1.35.    An exemption for agriculture from federal motor carrier safety regulations regarding:

1.35.1. Displaying of DOT numbers;

1.35.2. Displaying registered owners' or farm name;

1.35.3. Limiting mileage;

1.35.4. Requiring a medical card for the driver;

1.35.5. Maintaining hours of service; and

1.35.6. Requiring bumpers on end dump farm vehicles;

1.36.    Agricultural custom harvesters being exempt from having to obtain a Department of Transportation Form E (proof of insurance form);

1.37.    Changing the placard requirement when hauling more than 1,000 gallons, because current DOT rules require any vehicle carrying more than 119 gallons of fuel in a tank other than the vehicle fuel take to be placard;

1.38.    Raising the federal commercial trucking weight threshold to be over 26,000 pounds;

1.39.    Increasing the interstate road weight limits for properly equipped vehicles;

1.40.    CDL drivers being eligible for defensive driving programs as a means to dismiss traffic tickets when the violation occurs while operating a non-commercial vehicle;

1.41.    Exempting production agriculture from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; 

1.42.    Agricultural transportation being considered intrastate commerce when the following criteria are present:

1.42.1. The vehicle is not-for-hire;

1.42.2. Transportation is from field to market or to an on-farm storage facility with subsequent transport to market; and

1.42.3. Transportation is provided by a producer or custom harvester;

1.43.    The transportation of farm equipment on interstate highways if no safe or viable alternative route is available;

1.44.    Federal legislation to reverse requirements on state-licensed physicians to submit to training and certification to be eligible to perform DOT physical examinations for truck drivers;

1.45.    Seeking legislation to prevent written warnings from appearing on Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) reports; and

1.46.    Variances on axle limits for agriculture.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The enactment of state legislation or regulations that are more stringent than federal requirements governing hauling of non-food items in trucks used to transport food products;

2.2.      Toll road construction where federal funds and lands are involved;

2.3.      Converting divided highways into interstates if no safe and viable alternate route is available for farm equipment;

2.4.      Increasing highway fuel taxes for deficit reduction purposes;

2.5.      Action by Congress or the DOT to impose sanctions or to withhold user taxes or any other federal funds from any state in an attempt to force or coerce states to enact particular laws;

2.6.      Any national legislation to remove safe, older vehicles from highways as a means to reduce energy use;

2.7.      Implementation or enforcement of any regulation further limiting the driver's hours of operation or the hours a truck can be utilized on the nation's highways;

2.8.      The diversion of highways and utility lines from public land;

2.9.      The DOT mandate for a 30 minute break after 8 hours of driving for livestock haulers, including honeybees;

2.10.    The use of federal transportation money used for recreational non-motor vehicle infrastructure;

2.11.    Mandatory electronic on-board recording devices on commercial vehicles and vehicles transporting agricultural products which do not recognize or provide for breaks within the 14-hour daily service time;

2.12.    The mandatory use of digital log books for any commercial vehicle hauling livestock or agriculture products;

2.13.    Mandatory CDL for producers and their employees to transport fuel, chemicals, fertilizer and farm commodities;

2.14.    Lowering of federal weight and length limits; 

2.15.    The inclusion of agricultural producers in the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) program. We support restoring an agricultural exemption from the program;

2.16.    Requiring a driver possessing a current, valid CDL with a hazmat endorsement and a clean motor vehicle report having to reorder a Homeland Security report when moving to another state;

2.17.    The use of road tax monies to fund rails-to-trails initiatives while there is a backlog of maintenance needed on existing roads and bridges; and

2.18.    Any federal mandate to install speed limiters on commercial vehicles.

126 / Maritime Transportation

1.             There should be no restrictions as to the quantities or vessels on which a commodity is shipped between U.S. ports; therefore, we urge repeal of the Jones Act. Since cargo preference requirements make U.S. farm exports less competitive in world markets, we oppose legislation or decisions to extend cargo preference to any U.S. farm exports.

2.         Until the Jones Act is repealed, we support exempting agricultural commodities from the Jones Act to make shipping of agricultural commodities within the United States and its territories more competitive.

3.         We believe the subsidy for the U.S. Merchant Marine should come out of the Department of Defense budget, rather than in the form of increased freight rates for grain hauled under P.L. 480.

4.         We support improved infrastructure at all U.S. ports, including inland seaports, to better facilitate the loading of all sizes of ships.

127 / Railroads

1.             We encourage the railroads to accommodate country elevators by not requiring overly restrictive minimums for track length, car numbers, and loading times. These practices should not result in restricting farmers' access to markets.

2.         The rail industry should take responsibility for protecting areas impacted by rail traffic, by implementing and maintaining fire guards, maintaining private grade crossings, and building and maintaining sufficient fences for the livestock pertinent to the area, to keep the livestock off the rights of way along rail lines.

3.         We believe that all railroad cars should be equipped with sufficient iridescent material in patterns so that they will reflect the lights of a motor vehicle at grade crossings. This requirement should apply to all new cars when placed in service and to all existing cars when returned to service after maintenance. All railroad locomotives should be equipped with fire and spark arresters and heat warning devices on railroad car wheel bearings operating in the U.S.

4.         We believe that railroad rights of way should be maintained so long as the railroad continues to own the rights of way.

5.         We believe that railroad mergers have resulted in fewer carriers and reduced service for agriculture forcing increased reliance on other less efficient and more costly forms of transportation. We support additional oversight of the railroad industry, including any future plans for consolidation. Before any railroad mergers are approved, an operation plan must be developed and agreed upon to ensure competitive service for agriculture. In addition, we believe the federal government and Congress should review the current situation and implement reforms that recognize the needs of U.S. agriculture.

6.         We support:

6.1.      Expansion and improvement of the railroad system to reduce fuel consumption, to lessen road maintenance and to lower the cost of shipping agricultural products and supplies;

6.2.      Promoting competition in the rail industry;

6.3.      Open access rules where there is a lack of competition;

6.4.      Elimination of monopoly pricing that affects captive shippers, including the removal of "paper" and "steel" barriers;

6.5.      Giving greater rate-making flexibility to rail carriers to permit more competitive operations; but sufficient regulatory authority must be retained to protect captive shippers against monopoly pricing;

6.6.      Elimination of discriminatory railroad rates between geographic areas of the country. We ask that rates be based on weight, volume and distance on a uniform basis for all regions;

6.7.      Carriers not being permitted to easily abandon existing branch lines that serve agricultural producers;

6.8.      Decreasing the time between the Surface Transportation Board (STB) declaring a railroad abandoned and a property owner's right to regain ownership of his property;

6.9.      Facilitating the sale of branch lines which otherwise might be abandoned;

6.10.    Providing that in the case of abandonments or non-railroad use, the current owner of the tract of land from which the railroad right-of-way was obtained be given the right of first refusal, including mineral rights, on the basis of the fair market value of comparable property. If the current owner fails to exercise such option, other owners adjacent to the right-of-way will be offered the next right of first refusal;

6.11.    Refinements of the Staggers Rail Act to provide reasonable joint rates and switching rules in order to promote the most efficient movement of commodities among different rail service areas;

6.12.    Congress repealing the Federal Employer's Liability Act and require all railroad workers to be covered by worker's compensation;

6.13.    Expansion and upgrade of existing shortline and regional railroads to provide better service options for farm shippers;

6.14.    The rail line improvements and expansions proposed by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) railroad on the existing corridor to ensure increased options in the movement of agricultural commodities;

6.15.    Legislation requiring full disclosure of the railroad grain transportation bidding process to the individuals who participate in the process after all bids have been made and rail cars have been allocated;

6.16.    A provision that will allow the Surface Transportation Board, on petition of a state, to declare all or part of a state to be an area of inadequate rail competition, with special rail customer remedies that would apply in such areas;

6.17.    Legislation to exempt private, farm railroad crossings, used for the purposes of agricultural production, from user fees, maintenance charges and liability insurance requirements; 

6.18.    Legislation to prevent railroads from closing crossings if the crossing is the only access a landowner or farmer has to the property, or if the closure adversely affects the farm operations;

6.19.    Publishing railroad emergency contact numbers in all local phonebooks, along rail lines and giving them to local emergency personnel in the event of a train- related emergency.  Those numbers should be staffed and operational 24/7; and

6.20.    Increasing the fine for railroad companies that obstruct a highway, street or navigable stream.

7.         We oppose:

7.1.      The nationalization of railroads;

7.2.      The diversion of railroad earnings to holding companies or non-railroad businesses at the expense of a viable railroad;

7.3.      Parallel mergers of rail systems and the granting of railroad abandonments which tend to lessen potential transportation competition; and

7.4.      The merger of railroad companies with barge companies.

8.         High Speed Rail 

8.1.      If these five criteria are not met, we oppose high-speed rail:

8.1.1.   Due consideration has been given to all developing rail technologies and industries;

8.1.2.   The proposed rail system is capable of using or locating on existing highway or railroad rights of way;

8.1.3.   The proposed rail system will serve both rural and metropolitan counties along its route;

8.1.4.   Access across such routes is maintained for vehicular traffic; and

8.1.5.   High-speed rail must be self-supporting with no federal, state or local funds of any kind or tax incentives.

128 / Transportation

1.             We support development of a long-range national transportation policy that views transportation as a holistic system servicing the needs of both passengers and freight across all modes and recognizes the importance of connectivity between modes. It should encourage exploration of public/private partnerships and be designed to support global competitiveness while developing the most economical and energy efficient methods of meeting future transportation needs.

2.         We support more allocation of funds for the maintenance and improvement of our transportation infrastructure, including:

2.1.      The lock and dam system and waterways;

2.2.      Rural highways;

2.3.      Railroad systems;

2.4.      Farm-to-market roads; and

2.5.      Pipelines.

3.         The federal government should stop making policy on the assessment and taxation of transportation property or any other property. This is a state and local matter and should remain at that level.

4.         The role of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in transportation and food distribution should be redefined and strengthened to monitor the agricultural transportation situation and provide educational assistance to independent, owner-operator truckers.

5.         The unique characteristics of agricultural transportation warrant distinction between state and federal laws and regulations. We oppose repeal of existing statutory and regulatory exemptions.

6.         We recommend that the manufacturers of diesel engines list their requirements of lubricity for low sulfur diesel fuels and that manufacturers of low sulfur diesel add a lubricity package that exceeds these requirements.

7.         The English language certification for a foreign pilot operating a commercial aircraft in the United States should be improved and strengthened.

8.         We recommend that diesel particulate filters not be required on farm equipment due to the high temperatures involved in the function of these filters and the fire hazard they cause in the areas where this equipment is operated.

9.         We support repealing the Real ID Act of 2005.

10.       We oppose:

10.1.    Legislation that would mandate excessive increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) for new cars, trucks and vans;

10.2.    The adoption of vehicle emission standards or the regulation of the carbon intensity of transportation fuels if they have a long-term, negative impact on the production and use of renewable fuels or an adverse economic impact on agriculture;

10.3.    Any changes in the CAFE standards that reduce the availability and increase the cost of trucks;

10.4.    Using the metric system in our public highway mileage signs;

10.5.    Further action to change fuel standards or tax provisions on fuel at the expense of equipment performance; however, we support the improvement and enforcement of expanded fuel quality and performance standards;

10.6.    Any mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that restricts fuel economy standards for small trucks to the same level as automobiles;

10.7.    Emission controls on farm vehicles that are used primarily on the farm;

10.8.    EPA requirements for retrofitting engines to meet new reduced emissions standards;

10.9.    EPA’s ban on sales of excess military equipment to rural fire departments;

10.10.  Department of Transportation (DOT) implementing regulations placing restrictions on any food product being distributed on common carriers such as airlines without solid scientific evidence that such restrictions are necessary to prevent a significant risk to the public at large;

10.11.  Federal agencies closing state and U.S. highways to disallow commerce; and

10.12.  The federal mandated transportation policy that limits speed of commercial vehicles to a lower speed than the posted speed limit. 

LABOR 

135 / Farm Labor

1.             We should work with agricultural employers in the various states and regions to:

1.1.      Improve farm labor-management relations; and

1.2.      Increase productivity of farm labor.

2.         We uphold the right of farm workers to decline union  membership based on their own convictions.

3.         Each state should have the right to decide whether agricultural employment should be brought under the National Labor Relations Act and we favor legislation to provide such an option.

4.         Where federal regulations require new or remodeled housing for migrant farm workers, low-interest financing should be made available. To encourage the construction of affordable farm worker housing, provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be modified so that only a reasonable percentage of such a housing project must be made accessible to the mobility impaired. The federal, state and county agencies which enforce employee housing laws should designate among themselves the one agency to be the lead and exclusive agency to enforce those laws in each county; preferably, that agency should be the most local one.

5.         We favor legislation to amend the Farmers Home Administration Act to permit H-2A workers to be housed in USDA-assisted migrant housing.

6.         In a closely held corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or any other business entity, members of the family/families should be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), unemployment compensation laws and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

7.         When a farmer is engaged in the processing, handling, packing or storing of perishable products grown on his own farm and the perishable products of other farmers, the operation should be classified as "agriculture," provided that a minimum of 50 percent of the total output of such processing plant is grown on his own farm.

8.         We ask the Department of Labor (DOL) to change its interpretations so as to clarify that persons employed on farms year-round by the same employer are not considered to be seasonal employees under MSPA.

9.         We support increased transparency of the investigation practices by the DOL, including full disclosure of DOL policies, guidelines, and operating procedures such as those found in the Field Operations Handbook. When DOL notifies a producer of apparent wage and hour violations, the department must inform the producer that its requests are strictly voluntary, must accurately represent its legal authority and the rights of the producer, and must provide to the producer all information it relied on to determine the alleged violations. DOL should cite the producer only for violations that investigators actually observed and proved, not ones based on the department's belief or conjecture or made subjectively or statistically by DOL. DOL should seek "hot goods" orders only when a producer has demonstrated repeated and willful violations and lack of cooperation with DOL. In such cases, the federal government must not contact the producer's customers unless the department has already secured the necessary court orders.  We call for the repeal of DOL’s authority to seek and secure hot goods orders on perishable commodities.

10.       We recommend that, when a complaint has been registered with the Federal Wage and Hour Division, the investigators be required to list the complaint with the farmer along with the name of the persons registering the complaint; and that the investigation be limited to the area of the complaint.

11.       We call for repeal or major revision of the private right of action under Section 504 of the MSPA. However, we will continue to assist in the defense of the term "intentional" in that section to mean a conscious or deliberate act.

12.       We encourage agencies that perform labor housing inspections, including the DOL wage and hour division, to work with growers in providing safe housing, or camps, and to allow them to correct problem areas in a timely manner before imposing fines.

13.       We recommend that once farm worker housing is inspected and licensed by the appropriate state agency and then occupied, the DOL may not enter the dwellings without the employee's permission and proper notification to the owner of the farm.

14.       In instances in which fines are assessed, they should be based on a fine structure that is publicly available. The basis for the specific fine or assessment should be made immediately to the grower, as well as a citation of the applicable regulation and the specific deficiency.

15.       We urge that federal requirements for employer reporting of newly hired employees be changed to exclude temporary, day-by-day employees from reporting requirements.

16.       We support:

16.1.    The standardization of the definition of agriculture and farm work for all state/federal labor-related legislation to include the work activity described by the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), code 11. The NAICS code reflects modern agriculture practices and is now used by the agricultural census and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health because the description more accurately reflects current agricultural organizational structures;

16.2.    Retention of the present family farm exemption from the child labor provisions of the FLSA regardless of business structure where members of the family/families are owners, including a closely held corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company or any other business entity;

16.3.    Deleting the language “or causes to be used” from the vehicle safety obligations section of MSPA (Section 500.100a);

16.4.    Enforcement of federal child labor laws designed to prevent underage children from working in all industries. We support existing FLSA provisions, which specify and provide opportunities for young people of the proper age to perform certain agriculture jobs;

16.5.    The family farm exemption in MSPA and oppose any efforts to restrict its application;

16.6.    Changes in the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) so posting of field entrances does not unduly alarm consumers about the use of crop protection products. We request significant research and data can be provided resolving serious flaws with the present regulation;

16.7.    Changes to worker protections under the WPS should be based on current scientifically or medically substantiated data and reflect current pesticide labeling;

16.8.    Eliminating from the WPS the existing provision granting “designated representatives” access to farm-specific pesticide data. Any access to such data by “designated representatives” should be restricted to matters related to the health, safety or exposure of the worker who authorized access and the “designated representative” should not be allowed to disclose the data to anyone other than the worker;

16.9.    The freedom to use farm labor contractors in the recruitment and management of migrant seasonal and day haul farm labor. The labor contractor should be recognized as the sole employer of said labor force;

16.10.  Allowing the use of housing that meets Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for qualified seasonal and agricultural visa workers; 

16.11.  Increased funding to continue and expand the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program; and

16.12.  Employers and workers being free to negotiate piece rate or any other performance-based wage system as long as the worker earns a wage that equals or exceeds the greater of the federal or state minimum hourly wage or any other hourly minimum wage imposed by an agricultural visa program. When the worker and employee negotiate a performance-based wage, that wage shall include time spent during rest breaks, moving from job to job, clean up and any other nonproductive time.

17.       We oppose:

17.1.    A national agricultural labor board;

17.2.    The expansion of the Agricultural Hazardous Occupations Orders by the DOL;

17.3.    Unauthorized entry into any facilities including, but not limited to, worker housing units, barns, accessory buildings, and fields by agents of the U.S. government;

17.4.    Requiring employers to pay employee travel and related expenses from the employee's permanent residence to the employer's place of business, except as may be required under a temporary foreign worker program in which the farmer is voluntarily participating; 

17.5.    Any regulations requiring farmers to pay wages to farm workers during travel time from their residence to place of work; and

17.6.    Policy requiring agricultural employers to pay more than an average wage rate prevailing in a particular agricultural occupation and region.

136 / General Labor Issues

1.             We support enactment of laws that would mandate specific penalties for unions, union members and public employees who engage in illegal strikes, and prohibit the use of amnesty in such situations.

2.         A high standard of living is possible only through high productivity. We oppose work slowdowns, make-work, featherbedding and impediments to the use of new technology that increases labor productivity. We believe service organizations should be exempt from federal laws requiring that employees involved in any of their rehabilitation programs be paid standard minimum wage.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Retention of Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and extension of the right-to-work in additional states as a part of the goal to abolish compulsory membership in labor unions;

3.2.      Amendments to the NLRA to extend and protect the rights of individual workers against abuses by both management and labor;

3.3.      The guarantee of the right of a secret ballot for all union votes;

3.4.      Repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act. Until repeal is achieved, we support an amendment to the Davis-Bacon Act which would allow rural municipalities to bid public works projects without adherence to the prevailing wage rate clause;

3.5.      Legislation to amend appropriate antitrust laws to further limit the antitrust immunity of labor unions;

3.6.      Federal legislation that encourages states to provide basic systems of minimum workers' compensation benefits following the wage-loss concept for work-connected disabilities. Such federal legislation should also encourage states to improve state statutes without infringing on their rights to enact and administer their own systems of workers' compensation benefits;

3.7.      Clear definitions of workers' compensation coverage for temporary agricultural workers;

3.8.      Legislation to permit class action suits against unions to recover financial losses incurred by third parties because of a strike;

3.9.      Employers subjected to accusations from regulatory agencies or commissions, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, are guaranteed the right to due process;

3.10.    Amendments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and modifications of enforcement procedures to increase exemptions for small businesses and privately held family concerns;

3.11.    Legislation and or legal remedy that would decree that state and local government employees are not subject to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and overtime provisions;

3.12.    A minimum wage differential for youth;

3.13.    Maximum opportunities for youth to work on farms;

3.14.    Legislation to outlaw strikes of vital public services including transportation and food processing and provide instead for mediation and compulsory arbitration. We favor stronger federal laws that would prevent labor unions from refusing to load farm commodities;

3.15.    Invocation of the Taft-Hartley Act when a strike has a regional economic impact;

3.16.    Granting state governors Taft-Hartley powers currently reserved for the president, including the ability to convene a board of inquiry and start the Taft-Hartley process whenever a port labor dispute is causing economic harm. Once that board reports, governors could petition federal courts to enjoin slowdowns, strikes or lockouts at ports in their states. We support explicitly including slowdowns as a trigger for Taft-Hartley powers;

3.17.    Legislation to outlaw the use of any union dues exacted from union shop contracts or agency shop contracts in any form including in-kind services, for political campaigns;

3.18.    Action to prohibit strikers from receiving unemployment compensation or welfare benefits;

3.19.    Greater use of legal approaches in reducing the abuse of power by labor unions;

3.20.    Repeal of provisions of the  Trade  Adjustment Assistance which authorizes cash and other aid for workers who lose their jobs or have work hours shortened due to imports;

3.21.    Amending the Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act to include jurisdiction over violence and other coercive actions by labor unions and/or their agents;

3.22.    Raising the  man-day exemption in the FLSA for agricultural employers up to 750-man-days;

3.23.    Retention of the agricultural exemption from the overtime requirements of the FLSA;

3.24.    Amending the FLSA to provide compensatory time (in lieu of overtime pay) for employees in the private sector; 

3.25.    Changing the definition of agriculture in the FLSA to include forestry and logging, on-farm retail operations, handling products from other farms, consolidation of product from other farms, value-added processing, fermenting, and all aspects of equine activities;

3.26.    Increasing the minimum base level to $2,000 per employee before Federal Insurance Contributions Act payroll tax withholding is required;

3.27.    An amendment to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act to exempt immediate family including children of an employer from the documentation requirement; and

3.28.    Amending FLSA to allow volunteerism on farms and ranches.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Repeal of the public employment exemption in NLRA and vigorously oppose any law at the state or national level that would force any public employee to join, or pay dues to, a union in order to work for the taxpayers;

4.2.      Any major changes in the NLRA that would increase the size of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or in any way tilt this Act in favor of unions and against management;

4.3.      The taxation for unemployment insurance of corporate officers of a family corporation who are unable to collect unemployment compensation;

4.4.      Efforts to provide full employment at taxpayers' expense. Such programs impair the free enterprise system and would be a burdensome expense;

4.5.      The use of public funds for grants to labor organizations or their affiliates to bolster the financial position of such unions or aid their organizing efforts in any way. We should continue efforts to halt such grants, to initiate investigation of existing grants, to take every feasible action to nullify any grants made or used illegally, and to take every feasible action to prevent additional grants;

4.6.      Efforts to move to a nationally standardized shorter work week;

4.7.      Legislation that would mandate health insurance to be provided by employers;

4.8.      Efforts to extend the Family and Medical Leave Act to employers not covered under the current law;

4.9.      Mandating earned sick leave for employees;

4.10.    An increase in the minimum wage and indexing of the minimum wage when believed to be inflationary;

4.11.    Any legislation that would ban the permanent replacement of striking workers;

4.12.    Congressional efforts to void states' right-to-work laws; 

4.13.    An overtime premium hourly rate to be guaranteed through a federal mandate; 

4.14.    Boycotts in any form, including common situs picketing; and

4.15.    Raising the salary threshold for employees who are eligible to receive overtime pay.

5.         Unemployment Compensation Laws 

5.1.      We support:

5.1.1.   Unemployment insurance benefits be unavailable to any claimant who cannot be verified able to work and actively seeking work;

5.1.2.   Exempting wages of part-time farm laborers who are 16 years old and under, senior citizens, family members and full-time students from the requirements of the Federal Unemployment Compensation Tax Act;

5.1.3.   A one-week waiting period before qualifying for benefits;

5.1.4.   Unemployment benefits being limited to 26 weeks;

5.1.5.   Employees contributing a percentage of their wages to the unemployment insurance fund;

5.1.6.   Increased incentives for unemployment compensation recipients to take available jobs and that the job search requirement be initiated at the beginning of benefits;

5.1.7.   Reviewing reciprocal agreements for unemployment payments among all states to reduce payment of ineligible claims;

5.1.8.   All workers (including H-2A workers) who are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits being excluded from the federal unemployment tax base;

5.1.9.   Increasing the threshold level of agricultural coverage from $20,000 of wages paid in any calendar quarter to $50,000 to reflect wage inflation that has occurred since the enactment of agricultural coverage and that it be indexed in the future to adjust for inflation;

5.1.10. Increasing the agricultural threshold coverage for multiple employees from 10 or more persons during any portion of 20 or more weeks of the year to a level of 15 or more persons for any portion of 30 weeks of the year;

5.1.11. Employers being liable only in the calendar year in which they exceed the threshold level in any calendar quarter in that year;

5.1.12. Claims made under the Interstate Agreement for the Combining of Wage Credit not being charged to the involved employer until basis for the claim is verified; and

5.1.13. Efforts to reform the unemployment compensation laws so as to reduce fraud and bring the cost of this program under better control.

5.2.      We oppose:

5.2.1.   Further extension of the unemployment compensation program to agricultural employees; and

5.2.2.   The payment of unemployment benefits to seasonal labor employees.

137 / Immigration

1.             General Immigration 

1.1.      Effective enforcement of all immigration laws and border security is a responsibility of the federal government.

1.2.      U.S. immigration policy must recognize that agriculture relies on immigrant labor as the jobs are arduous, often seasonal and migratory.

1.3.      We must confront the problem of illegal immigration directly and comprehensively, but traditional law enforcement and immigration measures alone will not suffice.  We support enforcement of immigration laws to deter the employment of unauthorized workers.

1.4.      We support abolishment of the 66,000 annual cap on H-2B visas to assist agricultural processors that use the H-2B visa program:

1.4.1.   An H-2B returning worker exemption will be sought and supported until such time that the annual cap is completely abolished. 

1.5.      Any federal mandate on employers to implement E-Verify must:

1.5.1.   Include an employment eligibility verification system which is simple, conclusive, and timely;

1.5.2.   Provide an affirmative defense for employers acting in good faith;

1.5.3.   Allow for status adjustment of workers not authorized prior to implementation; and

1.5.4.   Be preceded by full implementation of a usable agricultural worker program. 

1.6.      We support:

1.6.1.   The reform of existing migrant labor laws to be more farmer-friendly;

1.6.2.   Permitting experienced visa and undocumented agricultural workers who are employed in agriculture prior to bill introduction the opportunity to earn permanent legal status, provided the process for applying for such status:

1.6.2.1.            Provides a waiver from inadmissibility;

1.6.2.2.            Offers these workers sufficient incentives to come forward but does not provide them with an unfair advantage over other applicants;

1.6.2.3.            Does not penalize the employer when a worker comes forward;

1.6.2.4.            Enables agricultural employers to retain their experienced workforce while transitioning into a new worker program;

1.6.2.5.            Deters future illegal immigration and otherwise improves homeland security; and

1.6.2.6.            Offers an incentive to workers who obtain permanent legal status through agriculture to stay in agriculture.

1.6.3.   Replacement of work authorization documents with tamper-resistant, machine readable documents that include biometric identifiers;

1.6.4.   Legislation to strengthen the present immigration and naturalization laws of the United States and to especially address the following subjects:

1.6.4.1.            Political asylum rules should be more narrowly defined to exclude frivolous requests and to provide for a more expedient determination as to the legitimacy of the request;

1.6.4.2.            Undocumented or unauthorized persons should not be eligible for any of our social welfare programs, including housing, fuel, education and health benefits;

1.6.4.3.            Any foreign national testing positive for a communicable disease should not be admitted into the United States; and

1.6.4.4.            Non-citizens convicted of a felony should be deported immediately after serving any prison time imposed on them.

1.6.5.   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducting its enforcement activities with respect to civil rights, in a humane manner and with minimal disruption to agricultural business;

1.6.6.   Just compensation to owners for any damages done to property or business during DHS enforcement activities;

1.6.7.   Preventing workers found to be undocumented or unauthorized persons from continuing to occupy grower's housing unless provided with immediate work authorization;

1.6.8.   Action to provide for the unification of immediate families under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), so that the act or the regulations do not require the breakup of immediate families;

1.6.9.   Repealing of the employer sanctions clause. Employers should not be held liable for determining the legal or illegal status of employees;

1.6.10. A safe harbor provision for employers who have formally hired or are hiring workers who are permitted under Deferred Action against Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and future related executive action;

1.6.11. Federal agencies being liable for any and all costs related to illegal immigration incurred by state, county and municipal governments including detaining an illegal immigrant while awaiting processing and/or deportation and costs incurred by individuals for personal and property damages;

1.6.12. DHS developing clear, legal guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and for U.S. Border Patrol when entering private property and advising employers of such guidelines;

1.6.13. ICE being required to contact employers immediately following farm enforcement measures when employees are taken from businesses so that employers and families are informed;

1.6.14. The U.S. State Department increasing funding and personnel to handle the peak period for visa demand thus reducing worker delays; 

1.6.15. The development of a special visa, green card or citizenship for farmers immigrating, or those who have immigrated to the U.S. Specifically, we recommend changes to existing laws and E2 visa requirements to better reflect and support farm family businesses; and

1.6.16. Unaccompanied minors who enter the United States illegally should be treated under the same laws as adults entering the country illegally.

1.7.      We oppose:

1.7.1.   Any efforts to repeal the open agricultural field search warrant provision of IRCA; and

1.7.2.   The counting of undocumented or unauthorized persons in the U.S. Census relative to redistricting  . 

2.         Agricultural Visa Program 

2.1.      We support establishing a new agriculture visa that is portable (at-will) or by contract and that also deals with ag sectors that need year-round workers.

2.2.      We support an agricultural worker program with requirements and fees that are not more stringent for one sector of agriculture than another.

2.3.      We support amending the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (MSPA) and the H-2A Act to require that court jurisdiction fall with the state and/or country where the alleged violation occurred.

2.4.      We recommend that DOL work quickly and judiciously to provide guidance to state labor departments and settle disputes regarding the H-2A Program to make it very clear that the federal government has oversight and final determination in all areas of the H-2A Program.

2.5.      We support improved training for employers to understand and better use the H-2A program, and provide better information for new users to the program.

2.6.      The DOL should provide appropriate oversight for state labor departments to ensure that H-2A applications are processed at the state level in a timely and impartial manner.

2.7.      We recommend that resident aliens with work permits be allowed to work on as many different farms as needed each year, i.e., they should not be restricted to one farm or one employer, but some may be limited to the agricultural sector for a temporary period of time.

2.8.      Amending the H-2A program to allow workers to work for other farmers as long as a transfer is approved by the original contracting employer.

2.9.      A state employment agency should be required to verify employment eligibility before making any referral to an employer.

2.10.    We support a worker program that:

2.10.1. Addresses agriculture's unique needs, which may change suddenly with weather, global market realities, contract enforceability or other variables beyond the grower's control;

2.10.2. Is simplified and cost-competitive to make their employment more feasible for perishable crops;

2.10.3. Provides workers, including commercial fishing and fish dock workers, with a visa that lasts at least three years and is renewable multiple times;

2.10.4. Offers an opportunity, and provides a waiver from inadmissibility, to interested agricultural workers who were unlawfully present and working in agriculture prior to introduction of legislation but are otherwise admissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);

2.10.5. Requires workers with a visa to return to their home country when their visa expires, but employers should be allowed to recruit eligible workers indefinitely;

2.10.6. Eliminates excessive or duplicative bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape;

2.10.7. Reduces domestic recruitment costs;

2.10.8. Allows U.S. farmers to hire qualified migratory and domestic workers;

2.10.9. Includes appropriate provisions for foreign commuter workers who return to a residence in their home country nightly or weekly;

2.10.10.           Establishes an ombudsman to resolve disputes among immigration service, employers and workers;

2.10.11.           Includes timely certification determination to ensure employers adequate time to bring workers to a job site;

2.10.12.           Includes the broadest possible definition of agriculture;

2.10.13.           Provides the option of a housing allowance, in lieu of housing;

2.10.14.           Provides for an exemption from any contract employment guarantee in the case of a freeze or other emergency catastrophic event;

2.10.15.           Is administered by USDA;

2.10.16.           Allows cooperating farmers to make a joint application for workers. These workers would be allowed to move from one cooperating farm to another during the workers' contract period, without shared liability; 

2.10.17.           Includes data from current and previous H-2A employers in the H-2A prevailing practices survey;

2.10.18.           Automatically increases the number of available visas (to avoid crop losses) if the visa limit is reached, should a future agricultural visa program cap the number of available visas; 

2.10.19.           Includes forestry; and

2.10.20.           Provides an online format to expedite the exchange of information between the producer and government agencies. 

2.11.    We oppose:

2.11.1. Requiring agricultural employers to pay more than an average wage rate prevailing in a particular agricultural occupation and region, if required to pay above the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum;

2.11.2. Requiring employers to pay local youth workers the same wages as an H-2A or visa worker under a new agricultural visa program for doing the same job;

2.11.3. Requiring housing or transportation, or the hiring of domestic workers after the contract period has begun; housing or transportation may be encouraged with tax credits;

2.11.4. Requiring to pay such cost until at least half of the contract period is complete and unless the costs primarily benefit the employer;

2.11.5. Limiting the number of temporary worker visas, or guaranteeing payment of any fraction of a worker's pay for work that has not been performed;

2.11.6. Expanding the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act to employers of agricultural temporary workers or otherwise providing those workers with a private right of action, whether expressed or implied, in state or federal court; and

2.11.7. Applying any labor law that does not currently apply to H-2A visa workers.

138 / Legal Services Corporation

1.             We call for major reform of the Legal Services Act of 1974. We are not opposed to a reasonable program to provide legal assistance for the socially disadvantaged. To achieve major reform of the program, we will work with other groups, both inside and outside agriculture, to mount a multi-year legislative effort for that purpose.

2.         We will:

2.1.      Continue to support efforts to defund the special programs that have been funded by Congress and transfer those funds to direct delivery of services to poor people;

2.2.      Support efforts to bring about other reforms on an interim basis, including but not limited to:

2.2.1.   An amendment to the Legal Services Act to permit individual citizens or groups to file suit against the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and its grantees or contractors and to seek damages where Legal Services lawyers or LSC groups have operated in violation of the law;

2.2.2.   An amendment to require LSC groups and their staff attorneys to make a good faith effort to get the employer and the complaining employee or employees in a face-to-face meeting for the purpose of resolving problems before a lawsuit is threatened or filed;

2.2.3.   An amendment to either prohibit LSC attorneys and groups from filing for or receiving court and legal costs from defendants;

2.2.4.   An amendment to say: "Legal Services Corporation, its attorney(s) or group(s), shall have to pay court costs for any suits that they initiate and lose;" and

2.2.5.   An amendment to prohibit lobbying by subgrantees of LSC grantees;

2.3.      Support the development of organized ways, such as mediation, of settling problems between agricultural employers and their employees to avoid costly lawsuits;

2.4.      Support the development and promotion of a training program among agricultural employers to:

2.4.1.   Make them more aware of the labor laws and regulations affecting agricultural employment; and

2.4.2.   Assist them in developing an effective labor-management relations program on their farms and ranches;

2.5.      Assist farmers in becoming better informed about the LSC program and to become more involved in the operation of local LSC groups.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Making LSC and its grantees accountable to the executive branch;

3.2.      The U.S. government ceasing to provide federal funding to Farm Workers Legal Services; and

3.3.      The principle that any action brought by the LSC against farmers be considered in the court of jurisdiction where the farm is located.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Funding LSC grantees with interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts; 

4.2.      Giving LSC grantees the right to represent agricultural workers who are not legally or physically present in the United States; and

4.3.      Legal services case workers going to a farmer’s field or work site to solicit cases.

139 / Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

1.             We support an exemption for production agriculture operations with 50 or fewer employees from Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations.

2.         Employers who violate the law should be given a warning and training for the first violation and be given due process of law as allowed under the Constitution instead of instant fines.

3.         We call upon OSHA to repeal its farm labor housing regulations, since such housing is not a workplace. The Department of Labor (DOL) should not have two different regulators regulating the same housing. 

4.         OSHA should not issue any regulation unless there is an actual threat to the health and safety of employees.

5.         We support the use of voluntary programs to reduce injuries in the workplace.

6.         We will continue to work with federal agencies and with various safety groups in the development of reasonable safety regulations affecting farmers.

7.         We will provide leadership in the development of reasonable and responsible safety regulations at the national level.

8.         We believe that OSHA's standard for grain elevators is unworkable for existing small country elevators and we favor a more workable standard or exemption for such elevators.

9.         We call upon the secretary of labor to revise the Hazardous Materials Communication Standard to eliminate duplicate and overlapping regulations with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) farm worker pesticide protection regulations.

10.       We urge EPA and OSHA to employ persons with agricultural expertise.

11.       We oppose:

11.1.    Giving OSHA jurisdiction over criminal penalties for any OSHA or other labor regulation violation; and

11.2.    The imposition of ergonomic standards on the agricultural industry, including farm processing and packing operations.

MISCELLANEOUS 

145 / Agricultural Education

1.             High school career and technical education programs for agriculture and the National FFA Organization are vital programs for development of the talent and leadership needed in farming and agricultural service industries.

2.         We urge the U.S. Department of Education to retain the two professional staff positions, including the National FFA advisor, in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and FFA. These positions should be maintained at the current grade level, receive the necessary support for current functions and responsibilities, and be filled by individuals possessing the knowledge, experience and skills to provide leadership in Agricultural Education and FFA.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Agricultural Education and FFA Programs, and will work to help ensure scientifically based agriscience education, and a strong National FFA Organization;

3.2.      An increase in federal funding and necessary personnel for the creation of new programs in communities not yet served by agricultural education and FFA and maintaining the quality and high performance of current programs that provide personal, academic and career education in agriculture;

3.3.      Opportunities for children from public, private, charter and home schools to form local FFA chapters;

3.4.      School districts to revise their agricultural curriculum to a level where credits in agricultural courses can be utilized as science credits; and

3.5.      Post-secondary educational institutions to accept these agricultural course credits as science credits. 

146 / Career and Technical Education

1.             State and local groups should retain primary responsibility for career programs and technical education programs.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Career and technical education and post-high school job training and retraining for youth and adults seeking jobs in farming, ranching and logging; 

2.2.      The eligibility of farmers and ranchers to participate in existing government-funded retraining programs;

2.3.      Federal funding at current or higher levels for career and technical education;

2.4.      Expansion of farm business management education and production and financial benchmarking programs as part of adult education; 

2.5.      Career and technical education in the G.I. Bill, including an agriculture internship option; and

2.6.      Continued federal funding and appropriations for agricultural education within public schools via the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act.

147 / Census and Survey Data Collection

1.             We believe:

1.1.      Government agencies have the right to collect fundamental data on population counts for its census purposes. This data would include the names of individuals residing at the residence, the number of people residing at the residence, and the year of birth of people residing at the residence; and

1.2.      Any information requested in addition to this data must be voluntarily given by the individuals.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The American Community Survey from the U.S. Department of Commerce because it aggressively and unnecessarily invades individual privacy with its data collection efforts;

2.2.      The use of fines to coerce citizens to submit to intrusive, mandatory personal data collection efforts by the federal government; and

2.3.      The use of statistical formulas or estimates in census taking. 

148 / Cooperatives

1.             Agricultural cooperatives being farmer owned and controlled and be based upon the principles of our private competitive enterprise system.

2.         We oppose any attempt to repeal or weaken the Capper-Volstead Act. Antitrust suits should not be used to dilute the bargaining power of farmer cooperatives.

3.         Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act requirements should apply to cooperatives that do business on cash basis with nonmembers.

4.         We support legal, regulatory and tax codes to encourage the proliferation of farmer-owned closed cooperatives that produce value-added products.

5.         We support allowing cooperatives to keep dividends from deceased members after trying to locate heirs for five years.

149 / Definition of Agriculture

1.             We support:

1.1.      A uniform definition of agriculture which includes use of natural resources in the production of all plants (agronomic and horticultural), aquatic species (aquaculture), forestry (silviculture), animal (including equine), fungi, beekeeping (apiculture) and all related production activities; and

1.2.      Agritourism defined as a “working farm, ranch or agriculture plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owner” be considered as a viable agricultural enterprise by all federal agencies. 


150 / Education

1.             Ag in the Classroom 

1.1.      Agriculture in the classroom programs improve the agricultural literacy of the public and should be a part of all elementary and secondary education.

1.2.      We support:

1.2.1.   Agriculture in the Classroom resources and programs for all K-12 classes;

1.2.2.   The National Agriculture in the Classroom organization;

1.2.3.   The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) role as coordinator of the Agriculture in the Classroom program and the continuation of funding for the Annual National Conference, website maintenance and enhancement, Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence Grants Program (ACE), Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture in the Classroom Award and the ability for state programs to apply for Secondary Education, Two-Year Post-secondary Education, Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge (SPECA) Grants Program and additional programs as funding allows; and

1.2.4.   An increase in the annual appropriation for the program.

2.         Primary and Secondary Education 

2.1.      We believe that educational policy is primarily a local and state issue. Reforms to improve educational quality can best be formulated at these levels of government.

2.2.      We support:

2.2.1.   A rewrite of the formula for federal funding which directs more money to rural and small town school districts;

2.2.2.   Obtaining proficiency in the basics of reading, writing and mathematics by all students in our educational system;

2.2.3.   The use of English as the teaching language in grades K-12;

2.2.4.   Programs that provide greater educational opportunities and incentives for exceptional students that emphasize creativity, innovation and teamwork while helping individual students identify their passions earlier in their educational experience; 

2.2.5.   The option of home-based education;

2.2.6.   Environmental education for all students being based on sound science and factual information;

2.2.7.   School curricula focusing on science-based facts and not on promoting or advocating the concept of animal or plant rights;

2.2.8.   Preserving neighborhood schools and maintaining the right of parents or legal guardians to participate in public and private schools affairs;

2.2.9.   Federal impact aid to localities adversely affected by federal government installations and/or refugee relocations;

2.2.10. Increased emphasis on educational programs that provide training in citizenship, traditional family values, parenting, ethics, social behavior and interpersonal relations; and

2.2.11. Native American tribes reimbursing local school districts for the full cost of educating tribal members.

2.3.      We oppose:

2.3.1.   Unfunded mandates; and

2.3.2.   National mandates on local curricula and school boards.

3.         Higher Education and Student Loans 

3.1.      We support:

3.1.1.   Eligibility for college loans be based on net operational income;

3.1.2.   Interest-free student loans as long as payments are made on time;

3.1.3.   Any individual who gets a student Pell Grant should be required to repay it with interest if they do not complete the semester. They should not be eligible for any further government loans or funds until the amount owed is repaid;

3.1.4.   Government and lending institutions making every effort to collect delinquent student loans with interest;

3.1.5.   Colleges and universities not being penalized for non-repayment of student loans. To avoid jeopardizing the availability of student loans, government guarantee should be reduced from 100 percent to 95 percent;

3.1.6.   Resident instruction programs in our colleges of agriculture. The development of students' expertise is critical to the future of the agricultural industry;

3.1.7.   The original intent of teacher tenure to protect teachers against political abuse. However, tenure should be reformed so that it cannot be used to unduly protect incompetent teachers;

3.1.8.   Private schools meeting or exceeding state standards for accreditation;

3.1.9.   Government recognizing the right of private groups to organize and operate educational institutions; and

3.1.10. The Environmental Protection Agency's environmental education being based on sound science and factual information.

3.2.      We oppose:

3.2.1.   The Internal Revenue Service interfering with the enrollment practices of private schools; and

3.2.2.   Prisoners qualifying for any welfare or federal or state grants, such as college or school grants.

151 / Farm Machinery

1.             We support:

1.1.      Prohibiting tampering with hour meters on motorized farm equipment;

1.2.      Using standardized 10-character machinery identification system, which includes components of the National Crime Information Center number;

1.3.      Urging manufacturers to designate the year of manufacture in the serial number of the tractor or implement; and

1.4.      Amending the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to require agricultural equipment manufacturers to allow equipment owners and independent repair facilities to have access to the same agricultural equipment diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers’ dealers and authorized repair facilities. Any penalty for alterations should be limited to the voiding of the warranty, as well as the right of dealers to refuse services and trade on altered equipment. Any alterations to software should be limited to the owner’s personal use and should not be for distribution.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Any further attempt to restrict or regulate exhaust emissions on new or used farm equipment, heavy equipment or trucks; and

2.2.      The titling, registration and licensing of farm machinery at the federal level.

152 / Family and Moral Responsibility

1.             The strength of every civilized society is the family. We support and encourage the promotion of the fundamental principles and family values on which our nation was founded.

2.         A family should be defined as persons who are related by blood, marriage between male and female or legal adoption. 

3.         Parents have the legal right and responsibility for the religious and moral training of their children. Child care services, protection from exploitation and education can best be addressed at the local level with parental involvement and guidance.

4.         We urge the media to take immediate steps to exercise discretion in the depiction of sex, violence and low morality on TV and radio. We recommend that the rating system used for movies be used for the commercial music industry. 

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      Granting special privileges to those that participate in alternative lifestyles; and

5.2.      Human cloning.

153 / Federal Emergency Management Agency

1.             Concerning FEMA assistance, criteria should be analyzed differently in regards to agricultural areas versus urban areas, when determining if assistance has already met the maximum dollar limit allowed.

154 / Health & Health Insurance

1.             We believe that health care is primarily the responsibility of the individual. We support efforts to improve health care delivery and foster health care competition.

2.         We support federal tax policies that encourage individuals to prepare for future health care needs.

3.         We oppose any tax on any agricultural commodity or any additional tax on payroll being used to fund a health care program.

4.         Health care policy should embrace the following principles:

4.1.      Promote personal wellness, fitness and preventive care as basic health goals;

4.2.      Ensure that professional health care workers, not insurance companies, determine patient treatments;

4.3.      Provide direct government financial assistance to providers for those who are unable to pay for health care; and

4.4.      Protect the right of patients to choose physicians and methods of treatment.

5.         Access To Health Care 

5.1.      We support:

5.1.1.   Incentives to increase the number of general practice physicians;

5.1.2.   Greater use of non-physician providers;

5.1.3.   Incentives to train medical professionals who intend to practice in rural areas;

5.1.4.   Incentives for medical and mental health services in rural areas, including home health care services;

5.1.5.   Essential Access Community Hospital and Rural Primary Care Hospital programs;

5.1.6.   The expansion of migrant health services to ensure a healthy work force for agricultural employers;

5.1.7.   Importation of prescription drugs when the safety of the source can be proven; and

5.1.8.   Rural area access to modern and reliable 911 and E911 communication service.

5.2.      We oppose:

5.2.1.   Legislation or regulations that would jeopardize present volunteer emergency medical technician systems;

5.2.2.   Federal guidelines that would close the obstetric wards in hospitals that do not meet annual requirements for number of births;

5.2.3.   Prohibiting the over-the-counter sale of vitamins, amino acids, probiotics, minerals and herbs;

5.2.4.   Insurance companies being able to override a professional health care worker’s prescription;

5.2.5.   Health Maintenance Organizations requiring patients referred to specialists to obtain periodic approval from the their primary care provider to continue treatment;

5.2.6.   The early discharge of patients by health care plans, hospitals and/or physicians;

5.2.7.   Employers being required to provide employees with health insurance throughout the calendar year of their employment;

5.2.8.   Mandates that insurance companies adhere to a "guarantee issue and community rating" standard, which would substantially increase premiums for individual health insurance policies; and

5.2.9.   Taxpayer funded health care for illegal immigrants.

6.         Cost Containment 

6.1.      We support:

6.1.1.   Exemptions from mandates for group health insurance programs of associations;

6.1.2.   A reduction in mandated benefits;

6.1.3.   Efforts to reduce medical malpractice insurance costs, including limitations on certain punitive and non-economic damage awards;

6.1.4.   Allowing veterans to receive medical care at local hospitals;

6.1.5.   A wage index equal to 1.0 for reimbursement purposes;

6.1.6.   Exemption of Essential Service Hospitals from Outpatient Prospective Payments Systems;

6.1.7.   An exemption for students and seasonal, part-time, and H-2A workers from mandated health care regulations; 

6.1.8.   Coordinated care, electronic records, incentives for results (not procedures) and preventative care, responsibly reduced hospital stays and payments to medical professionals for their service through telecommunication and email;

6.1.9.   Allowing contributions to a health savings account after age 65; and

6.1.10. Using taxes collected for the Medicare Trust Fund only for administering the Medicare Act and fund health benefits for those retirees who opt for Medicare and pay a Medicare premium.

7.         Health 

7.1.      We encourage vaccination programs for potentially deadly diseases and more domestic production of critical health vaccines as a policy of national security.

7.2.      We oppose funding for abortion, euthanasia and RU-486.

7.3.      We urge more restraint and supervision by the medical community concerning fetal tissue research.

7.4.      We support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allocating funding for the research, development and implementation of a Lyme Disease vaccine for humans.

8.         Health Insurance 

8.1.      We support:

8.1.1.   Small Business Health Plans and voluntary regional insurance purchasing cooperatives, subject to state regulation, to permit individuals and small companies to receive the same price advantages that corporations receive;

8.1.2.   Reviewing and revising the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act;

8.1.3.   Interstate portability of insurance;

8.1.4.   Insuring pre-existing conditions;

8.1.5.   Repeal and/or defunding of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010;

8.1.6.   Allowing insurance companies to sell and individuals to purchase health plans across state lines to create competitive prices; and

8.1.7.   Requiring current and retired members of Congress, the president, past presidents, their family members and all federal employees with the exception of active duty, retired and disabled military personnel to be included in any national health plan and/or compulsory national health insurance.

8.2.      We oppose:

8.2.1.   Government mandates that require the purchase of health insurance; 

8.2.2.   Compulsory national health insurance, including laws requiring all individuals or employers to purchase health insurance, and a national health plan in any form; and

8.2.3.   Efforts to exclude family members and the owners of other businesses from receiving the Small Employer Health Insurance tax credit under IRS Form 8941 which was passed under the Affordable Care Act.

9.         Medicare/Medicaid 

9.1.      We support:

9.1.1.   Allowing Medicare recipients to opt out of Medicare and purchase private insurance actuarially equivalent to Medicare with Medicare paying the premium;

9.1.2.   Incentives to Medicare recipients to allow them to participate in private or alternative plans;

9.1.3.   The active prosecution of Medicare and Medicaid fraud;

9.1.4.   Patients receiving billings from physicians and other health care providers or health care services before Medicare pays to help eliminate account balance discrepancies;

9.1.5.   Block grants to the states to administer the Medicaid program as they see best;

9.1.6.   Efforts to eliminate cost shifting from Medicaid and Medicare to individuals and third-party payers;

9.1.7.   Eliminating the waiting period for those who transfer or sell property to relatives in order to qualify for Medicaid;

9.1.8.   Medicaid assuming nursing home expenses for a person whose net worth has been reduced to $20,000;

9.1.9.   Allowing a spouse to retain up to $96,000 in countable assets (not including home, burial trust, life insurance and one vehicle) with the remainder eligible for spousal support of nursing home costs;

9.1.10. Equitable Medicare payments to rural hospitals and physicians, as well as revised rates to narrow the pay gap;

9.1.11. Adequate funding under Medicare to continue home health services for the home-bound and elderly;

9.1.12. Medical industry acceptance of Medicare assignments;

9.1.13. Medicare and Medicaid coverage for prescription drug and medical costs with a deductible or co-pay;

9.1.14. Government programs like Medicare and Medicaid properly compensating providers in a timely manner;

9.1.15. Full deductibility of Medicare co-pays and deductibles instead of treating them as hospital bad debt;

9.1.16. Medicare coverage for preventive examinations; and

9.1.17. The federal government assumes a larger percentage of the costs associated with Medicaid.

9.2.      We oppose:

9.2.1.   Any expansion of Medicare;

9.2.2.   Medicare tax increases;

9.2.3.   Increasing Medicaid eligibility, in an effort to have national health care reform, that would result in increased cost shifting to the states;

9.2.4.   Any reduction of Medicare provider reimbursement;

9.2.5.   A mandatory medical identification system;

9.2.6.   Efforts to restrict the ability to privately contract with a physician or other health care provider for medical service beyond Medicare-approved treatment;

9.2.7.   Medicare being able to limit a medical doctor's or other non-physician provider's ability to treat a patient; 

9.2.8.   Reducing Medicare funding to help support another national health care program; and

9.2.9.   The ability for Medicaid to recover medical expenses from the portion of an estate that generates business income for the surviving family.

155 / Insurance

1.             We support state regulation of insurance companies.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Repeal or amendment of the McCarran-Ferguson Act; and

2.2.      Increased federal income taxes on insurance companies.

156 / Litigation

1.             We support:

1.1.      Legislation to reform the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and other fee-shifting statutes to require online public disclosure from the Attorney General of the United States relating to litigation payments authorized for all federal agencies;

1.2.      Legislation to require parties seeking an injunction to reimburse the defendants for all court costs, legal fees, losses and other expenses if the injunction is shown to be unfounded or otherwise overturned;

1.3.      Tort reform to return stability to liability and medical malpractice insurance including, but should not be limited to:

1.3.1.   A cap on the amount of damages, due to non-economic losses including punitive damages;

1.3.2.   A flat compensation based on type of injury;

1.3.3.   Strengthening the legal definition of fault used to determine damages;

1.3.4.   Limit expert testimony;

1.3.5.   Eliminate joint and several liability;

1.3.6.   Allow large awards for future damages to be paid in installments;

1.3.7.   Eliminate double recovery;

1.3.8.   Limits on attorney's contingency fees, including those from class action lawsuits; and

1.3.9.   Increased usage of alternatives to lawsuits;

1.4.      Plaintiffs whose lawsuits are determined to be frivolous should be responsible for court costs and triple the amount of economic and social damages incurred;

1.5.      Legislation to amend the EAJA to make it clear that state courts may award attorney fees against the U.S.;

1.6.      Anti-disparagement legislation, which provides a cause of action against entities making false and disparaging statements against agricultural products and/or production without scientific justification;

1.7.      Legislation that entitles a prevailing party in civil or administrative proceedings by a state or federal agency, to legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses if the position of the agency is not substantially justified;

1.8.      Enforcement of the cap on legal fees being paid to attorneys under the EAJA or other fee-shifting statutes;

1.9.      Protecting volunteers, officers and directors of non-profit and charitable organizations from personal liability suits when acting in good faith to perform their assigned duty;

1.10.    Reform of the EAJA to prevent creation of incentives to “sue and settle,” including limitations related to the value of the assets of non-profit organizations that seek attorney fees under the act, a cap on the amount of fees and hourly rate an entity may receive and parity between non-profit organizations and individuals under EAJA;

1.11.    The creation of legislation that requires those seeking attorneys’ fees to win on each claim prior to eligibility for EAJA funds for any lawsuit. The legislation should also require individuals or groups to post a bond if their lawsuit will have an effect on producers; and

1.12.    Continuing to keep pressure on agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding misuse of EAJA.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The use of government funds to sue the U.S. government;

2.2.      The ability of a person serving a prison sentence to sue and recover any monetary award at taxpayer expense;

2.3.      The ability of a plaintiff to sue for injuries while committing a crime or trespassing on another person's land; and

2.4.      The ability of government agencies to assess penalties, confiscate property or withhold benefits without due process.

157 / Media

1.             We urge all media, government agencies and health care professionals to use correct scientific terminology, to be unbiased and accurate in their public statements to avoid unwarranted fear among the general public. All reporting should be balanced, maintaining a risk relation factor between agricultural/consumer benefits and possible health risks. When the media corrects an error in reporting, that correction should be printed or broadcast with the same prominence as it was incorrectly reported initially.

2.         We propose that any media and/or any organization responsible for distributing accusations of health risk not based on credible scientific data be held liable for triple the losses to producers, processors and subsequent retailers.

3.         We urge the USDA to promptly investigate false information regarding the agricultural community reported by the media and assist us in aggressively challenging individuals and organizations who misrepresent scientific evidence and cause financial damage to agricultural producers.

4.         To make vital decisions, farmers and ranchers need detailed and timely weather information, local news, up-to-the-minute market reports and news affecting production agriculture. We encourage all radio and television stations to maintain and improve their agricultural services.

5.         We support:

5.1.      Pro-agriculture information in all media available to the public;

5.2.      Local stations being included in programming on cable and satellite television;

5.3.      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) examining ongoing television reception problems resulting from the analog to digital conversion and work with broadcast stations to ensure the continued availability of free local programming;

5.4.      Permanent elimination of the FCC's ability to censor political content on talk radio; and

5.5.      Assertive new media outreach efforts to counter factually flawed “anti-agriculture” propaganda.

158 / Narcotics and Substance Abuse

1.             We encourage vigorous educational efforts to inform youth, parents and others concerning the harmful effects of substance abuse.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Effective enforcement of present laws and enactment of new legislation to prevent the illegal production, importation, manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs, and related paraphernalia;

2.2.      The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) change the cannabis classification from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 2 classification for the sole purpose of doing clinical studies on the effect on humans;

2.3.      Law enforcement notifying the landowner or managing agency when aware of trespass marijuana or illegal drug manufacturing sites on private agricultural/resource properties or public lands (e.g., U.S. Forest Service/Bureau  of Land Management);

2.4.      Funding and cleanup of damage caused by trespass marijuana or illegal drug manufacturing sites, with that effort coordinated among government and private entities;

2.5.      Efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse;

2.6.      Stiffer penalties for drug pushers, money launderers and repeat users, with no plea bargaining;

2.7.      Mandatory drug testing for public health and safety reasons in order to qualify for federal welfare programs; and

2.8.      Individuals on unemployment in excess of six months being subject to random drug tests and if the test is failed the individual no longer can receive unemployment benefits.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Depositing proceeds from property collected from confiscation and impoundment procedures into the general fund. These funds should be used for drug programs and cleanup costs;

3.2.      Innocent landowners being held liable or penalized when illegal drugs are found on their property; 

3.3.      The classification of industrial hemp as a controlled substance; and 

3.4.      The legalization of the recreational use of marijuana. 

159 / Nutrition

1.             We support:

1.1.      Teaching balanced diet guidelines following the recommendations of USDA's food nutrition program research;

1.2.      Recognition by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration of studies and research in nutrition which are based on published standard research criteria whether funded by producer groups or other recognized research groups;

1.3.      Funding of nutrition research on relationships between agricultural products and coronary heart disease and cancer;

1.4.      Teachers and health professionals being educated about sound nutritional principles;

1.5.      USDA including whole potatoes in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program;

1.6.      Changing the school lunch and WIC program to increase the number of eligible dairy products available to participants, including yogurt;

1.7.      Legislation and programs seeking to utilize Commodity Credit Corporation owned commodities for direct distribution in lieu of food stamps; and

1.8.      Allowing all participants in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFRMNP) to purchase locally produced, USDA-certified frozen meat products sold at farmers’ markets or certified roadside markets with SRFMNP vouchers.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Anyone dictating which foods should and should not be eaten, including imposing "health taxes" on food and beverages; and

2.2.      Using taxpayers' money for the purpose of legislating or controlling the diets of American people.

160 / Postal Service

1.             Rural addresses should reflect the locality of the postal patron. If the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) changes an address, it should continue to deliver mail for 90 days to allow ample time for notification.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Programs that provide efficient essential mail service to. reasonably accessible farmsteads;

2.2.      Private enterprise competing with the USPS for all types of service;

2.3.      Consolidating, extending, or relocating rural routes for economy of operation;

2.4.      Discontinuing Saturday mail delivery;

2.5.      Postal inspection of first class mail which is suspected of containing quarantined products;

2.6.      Using fines to deter the mailing of quarantined products;

2.7.      Requiring the USPS and airlines to ship live poultry ratites, beneficial insects (including honeybees), live plant material and canines;

2.8.      Allowing rural mail carriers to provide their own vehicles. Vehicles should be properly marked for safety;

2.9.      Making a U.S. postage stamp to honor agriculture;

2.10.    A review of USPS bulk mailing regulations for nonprofit organizations for easier compliance;

2.11.    Setting rates for all classes of mail at levels sufficient to support the cost of the service provided; and

2.12.    Allowing the U.S. Postal Service to ship wine.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Closing rural post offices without a public hearing; and

3.2.      The USPS selling name lists.

161 / Religion

1.             Our national life is founded on spiritual faith and belief in God.

2.         We support:

2.1.      The individual's right to free exercise of religion, whether in public or private, be it verbal or visual;

2.2.      The legal right and responsibility of parents to direct the religious and moral training of their children;

2.3.      Leaving "In God We Trust" on coins and currency and "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance;

2.4.      The right of U.S. citizens to conduct religious services, offer prayers and read the Bible as God's word on public lands; and

2.5.      The denial of preferential tax treatment to churches or church organizations for activities that are involved in political action programs. 

3.         We oppose efforts to remove references to Christmas and other religious holidays from our country's heritage.

162 / Retail Agriculture

1.             We support:

1.1.      Programs that promote the marketing and purchase of goods produced or manufactured in the United States of America; 

1.2.      Changes to federal law allowing farm market retail activity to occur at rest stops along federal highways;

1.3.      The expansion of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) programs at farm markets and farmers markets in federal nutrition programs;

1.4.      Farm wineries, farm breweries, farm cideries and farm distilleries being allowed to use social media; and

1.5.      All publicly supported educational institutions in the U.S. to purchase supplies, apparel and food stuffs from U.S. producers and U.S. manufacturers.

163 / Rural Communications

1.              Spectrum 

1.1.      As additional demand is placed on bandwidth spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should require rigorous testing to ensure no interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), precision agriculture, or other existing services. The cost of any technical fix should be borne by those creating any disruption in service.

1.2.      We support the improvement of GPS and land-based Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) transmitters.

2.          Telecommunication Service 

2.1.      Communication services should be available at a reasonable cost to all people. 

2.2.      We support:

2.2.1.   The FCC minimum definition for broadband speed;

2.2.2.   Increasing high speed internet access in rural areas through any source, including wireless, by using a combination of tax incentives, grants and/or regulations. Networks should meet and exceed the FCC’s definition for broadband; 

2.2.3.   Expanding eligibility requirements for Connect America funding to include rural electric cooperatives and other entities;

2.2.4.   Modifying USDA’s Broadband Program to increase the utilization of grants and loans in rural/underserved communities. We also support increased funding for and improvements in USDA’s Community Connect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine, and Rural Gigabit Network Pilot programs;

2.2.5.   Increased cooperation among Internet providers to improve access to broadband in rural areas through coordination/sharing of either current assets or the installation of necessary infrastructure;

2.2.6.   Local competition for retail access to telecommunication services;

2.2.7.   The continuation of the Universal Service Fund (USF) to maintain affordable communication services in rural America;

2.2.8.   The complete unbundling of telephone bills so that all components of the charges are accurately reflected;

2.2.9.   A properly designed federal revolving fund, with an adequate rate of interest and in conjunction with private capital as a source of financing for rural telephone cooperatives so that they can maintain and strengthen their systems;

2.2.10. The "Do Not Call List” and the inclusion of text messaging;

2.2.11. The owner of a communication tower should be responsible for the removal and disposal of the tower once its use is discontinued;

2.2.12. The development and use of telemedicine; and

2.2.13. The FCC working with cell phone companies to increase interoperability among towers in rural areas. 

2.3.      We oppose:

2.3.1.   Shifting the funding burden for the USF to the states; and 

2.3.2.   Access to Internet pornography in publicly supported facilities, (i.e., libraries and schools).

3.          Amateur Radio 

3.1.      We oppose:

3.1.1.   Any change to the FCC code infringing on amateur radio operation and use; and

3.1.2.   Requiring amateur radio operators to conduct radio frequency level studies and notify the public of possible trace amounts of radio frequency exposure. 

164 / Safety

1.             Farm Safety 

1.1.      We support:

1.1.1.   Farm safety training at the local level that includes both classroom and hands-on experiences for parents and youth to enhance their understanding of safe and age-appropriate tasks on the farm or ranch;

1.1.2.   The concept that safety begins with each individual employer and that employees have a responsibility to observe safe working rules and conditions;

1.1.3.   Clarification of statistical categories used by federal governmental agencies in determining rate of incidents, hazardous exposures and fatalities in production agricultural occupations;

1.1.4.   Efforts to reduce farm incidents, injuries and fatalities on the farm with an emphasis on education and voluntary programs;

1.1.5.   Funding of the AgrAbility Project and cooperative Extension farm safety programs;

1.1.6.   The Farm Bureau Safety and Health Network and others in their efforts to promote agricultural safety programs; and 

1.1.7.   Farmers and ranchers to install and maintain safety equipment. 

2.         Public Safety 

2.1.      We support:

2.1.1.   Continued efforts for uniform state vehicle codes, traffic guides and the furtherance of safety practices on highways and farms;

2.1.2.   The proper and lawful use of the slow moving vehicle (SMV) signs and equipment lighting;

2.1.3.   The strict enforcement of drinking and driving and habitual offender laws;

2.1.4.   The use of additional automobile safety devices;

2.1.5.   Collaboration among vehicle and child safety seat manufacturers to develop universal child safety seats that are compatible with all vehicles;

2.1.6.   Regular inspection of all railroad crossings and signals, especially multi-track crossings and the addition of lighting and rumble strips; and

2.1.7.   The use of fire racks and guards on fire trucks as an appropriate and effective method of rangeland firefighting.

165 / Unmanned Aircraft Systems

1.             We support:

1.1.      The safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and associated technologies for agricultural purposes.

1.2.      Requiring the operator of the UAS to gain the written consent of the landowner and/or farm operator if the UAS will be surveying or gathering data above private property; 

1.3.      Allowing landlords and tenants to fly over their fields for any reason without being considered commercial activity;

1.4.      The FAA maintaining reasonable certification and safety training requirements for the operation of UAS, including operational limitations, operational certification and responsibility, aircraft requirements and model aircraft exceptions; 

1.5.      The use of safety features to notify manned aircraft that a UAS is in the vicinity;

1.6.      The agricultural use of UAS going beyond visual line of sight as long as they are controlled by “sense and avoid” technology; and

1.7.      The nighttime use of UAS for agricultural purposes.

2.         We oppose a federal, state or local agency using UAS for the purpose of regulatory enforcement, litigation and as a sole source for natural resource inventories used in planning efforts

SECURITY 

175 / Biosecurity

1.             Protecting our nation's food, fiber, water supply and critical industrial agricultural materials should be a top priority.

2.         We condemn acts of terrorism by both foreign and domestic perpetrators and support the protection of our people, resources and industry.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Actions by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that ensure agriculture's ability to produce food and fiber, including establishing a permanent sub-cabinet position within DHS to deal with plant and animal protection measures, and ensuring there is agricultural representation on departmental advisory boards and committees;

3.2.      That all farmers and public agencies recognize the importance of adopting biosecurity measures;

3.3.      Public agencies recognizing that laws allowing public access to private agricultural operations or laws that inhibit agricultural production are a risk to our nation's security;

3.4.      Federal and state governments strengthening existing capabilities to prevent and respond to acts of bioterrorism;

3.5.      Emergency spending for food and agricultural security to protect and promote domestically produced food, fiber and critical industrial agricultural materials;

3.6.      Steps being taken to ensure that traditional protection measures against pest and diseases are maintained at the highest level with appropriate penalties;

3.7.      The USDA as the lead agency in managing any plant or animal disease outbreak;

3.8.      USDA being designated as the federal agency for food inspection and food safety if all food inspection and food safety functions are combined into one agency;

3.9.      Safe harbor provisions for producers and animal health professionals who may inadvertently spread biological agents while using acceptable management practices;

3.10.    Preemptive planning and development of strategies to contain and control potential outbreaks of foreign animal and plant diseases. This includes assurance by a third party that adequate supplies of crop protection products or animal vaccines are available or production capabilities are in place in case of an outbreak;

3.11.    Necessary USDA funding to focus on the protection of our food, fiber, water supply and critical industrial agricultural materials;

3.12.    Stringent enforcement of laws pertaining to bioterrorism;

3.13.    Import protocols that prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases;

3.14.    State and federal legislation to strengthen civil and criminal penalties to a felony charge for persons or organizations that engage in acts of bio terrorism, including but not limited to the introduction or spreading of biological agents or contaminants harmful to agricultural products. Foreign or domestic terrorist organizations who commit such acts and those who willfully finance these acts should be held financially responsible for damages;

3.15.    Federal legislation to establish an indemnity program and contract relief when acts of terrorism result in damage to agricultural facilities or equipment, production losses or the loss of marketability of agricultural products;

3.16.    Federal funding for the construction of new, state-of-the-art, biocontainment plant disease research facilities. Such facilities will be for federal research studies on non-endemic plant diseases of major agronomic crops, including soybean rust. We also support increased federal funding for such research and the operation of the new facilities;

3.17.    Legislation that would allow farmers and ranchers to seek compensation through U.S. courts from seized foreign assets and for losses resulting from agricultural terrorism by foreign states designated as state sponsors of terrorism; and

3.18.    The exclusion of hay for animal feed in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) bioterrorism regulations.

176 / Firearms

1.             We support:

1.1.      Firearm safety programs;

1.2.      Legislation that would prohibit lawsuits against any firearm manufacturer for the illegal or accidental use of firearms by a third party; 

1.3.      Mandatory imprisonment of persons convicted of a felony involving use of firearms; 

1.4.      State-issued individual conceal/carry permits being recognized nationally; and

1.5.      The removal of sound suppressors from the National Firearms Act, as well as the $200 tax stamp be removed.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Limiting the rights of U.S. citizens to purchase, possess or sell firearms through registration and licensing;

2.2.      Any additional expansion of taxes or new taxation of firearms, ammunition or reloading equipment and supplies;

2.3.      More stringent gun control laws. Any new commitment in gun control should be made by the strict enforcement of current laws;

2.4.      Mandatory background checks for private firearms transactions between law-abiding citizens of the United States;

2.5.      Restricting lawful firearm use and hunting through the enactment of no-shooting zones, land-use restrictions, and other regulations without a clear, factual, and undeniable public safety concern;

2.6.      Using taxpayer money and money from hunting and fishing licenses to pay for anti-gun promotions, ad campaigns or propaganda from anti-gun groups, elected government officials or government agencies; 

2.7.      Any restriction on the use of lead ammunition; 

2.8.      Limiting or restricting the purchase or possession of ammunition and the implementation of any type of ammunition tracking; and

2.9.      Gun-free zones, including military bases.

177 / General Border Security

1.             We must secure the borders of the United States by the most technologically advanced means possible and in a way that has minimal impact on agricultural producers.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Increased presence and cooperation of all branches of law enforcement on both sides of our borders, to eliminate border theft, drug and human trafficking as well as illegal crossing; and

2.2.      Increased penalties for drug or human trafficking and illegal entrance into the United States. 

3.         U.S. – Mexico Border Security

3.1.      We need to secure our United States borders and reduce terrorism through the following methods: 

3.1.1.   Complete fencing or other barriers where possible on the U.S. - Mexico border, including an adjacent roadway allowing better access for the border patrol and any other agencies to secure the border;

3.1.2.   Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcing and maintaining the barriers on the border; 

3.1.3.   Military presence on the border with rules of engagement defined and expanded; 

3.1.4.   An emphasis on deploying technology and personnel based on the unique needs of enforcement agencies on a sector-by-sector basis, including electronic surveillance technology, fixed wing and helicopter and implementation of unmanned aerial systems for night and day surveillance;

3.1.5.   Full communications coverage for civilians, law enforcement and military, including phone tower construction throughout the border region;

3.1.6.   The use of a virtual fence or other electronic surveillance; technology across agriculture lands where a physical fence is not practical;

3.1.7.   Operation Stone Garden, or similar programs, which would give local law enforcement agencies the technology to work more effectively with border patrol;

3.1.8.   Operation Streamline, or similar programs, to process and detain undocumented or unauthorized persons through the Department of Justice; and 

3.1.9.   Providing maximum funding for these programs to assist in securing our border. 

3.2.      We support the cause and the cost of suppressing fires being reported by the affected administrative land agency annually to the DHS and tabulated as a cost of the failure of the federal government to secure the border at the international boundary.

178 / Law Enforcement

1.             Members or employees of federal agencies acting outside the scope of their authority or in violation of the Constitution should be held personally liable, either civilly or criminally, for any damages that might occur.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Efforts to make sure that those who commit terrorist acts, as well as those who train, support, or harbor terrorists, are properly punished; 

2.2.      Enemy combatants captured outside the U.S. being tried by military tribunals, not federal courts;

2.3.      The unlimited exchange of criminal records among law enforcement agencies;

2.4.      Protection of law enforcement officers from liability for reasonable actions taken in the course of their duties; 

2.5.      Citizens offering pertinent information and assistance to law enforcement officers;

2.6.      Strict and prompt enforcement of laws protecting persons and property; 

2.7.      Cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in all areas of law enforcement;

2.8.      Training law enforcement in the most effective crime fighting techniques;

2.9.      Judges sentencing offenders in relation to the crime with stiff penalties for those using children in the commission of crimes;

2.10.    Punishment of criminals, regardless of age, with criminal records following them to any other court proceeding;

2.11.    Adequate prison facilities with an emphasis on rehabilitation to afford them a better opportunity to assume a constructive role in society. Prisoners in minimum security prisons should be required to work on highways, prison farms or other public projects to defray costs of their incarceration;

2.12.    Reducing the fiscal impact and increasing the flexibility to local governments in relation to increasing federal prison standards;

2.13.    Parole boards being less lenient in paroling offenders; 

2.14.    Monitoring and supervision of convicted and released offenders and notification of their release to the victims and their families;

2.15.    Mandatory prison sentences for first-time sex offenders;

2.16.    Disqualification of elected or appointed public officials convicted of felonies from holding office and forfeiture of pension or other benefits;

2.17.    Capital punishment, including a mandatory death penalty, for anyone convicted of assassination or attempted assassination of the president, or vice president or any candidate running for such office;

2.18.    Limits on the number of appeals criminals can receive;

2.19.    The same penalty for taking a hostage as for kidnapping;

2.20.    Higher bail for repeat offenders and persons charged with violent crimes, and legislation providing for revocation of bail for anyone arrested as a suspect in a felony case who is out on bail awaiting trial for another felony case;

2.21.    Restitution to victims by criminals;

2.22.    Publicizing the amount of funds spent prosecuting and defending felony cases;

2.23.    Legislation to provide for a "guilty but mentally ill" plea to replace the "not guilty by reason of insanity" plea. Defendants later found to be sane must serve out the remainder of the term;

2.24.    Congress enacting comprehensive forfeiture reform by requiring that individuals be convicted of a federal crime before their property is seized;

2.25.    The death penalty for people convicted of treason or espionage even in peacetime; 

2.26.    Local control of local law enforcement officers by local government, except for federal interdiction activities. Federal land or resource agencies should not exercise police powers in a state and should not have their own law enforcement agents;

2.27.    Converting closed military bases to medium and minimum security prisons and for housing young drug offenders;

2.28.    Prisoners repaying costs of a college education earned during their incarceration; 

2.29.    Payment of the cost of room and board in prison for prisoners if they are financially able;

2.30.    Taking all government-paid benefits from convicted felons while in prison;

2.31.    Restitution to insurers, and others, incurring financial loss by parties found guilty of livestock, machinery or crop theft, fraud, vandalism, arson or bioterrorism; 

2.32.    The right of people involved in or servicing production agriculture who have been submitted for review by a regulatory agency to know the identity of their accuser;

2.33.    Efforts to prevent the use of electronic personal information for illegal activities such as identity theft and credit fraud;

2.34.    Creating a federal requirement for scrap metal buyers and consignors to keep reasonable written documentation and photographs with a date stamp of the item and seller. All farm equipment should be held for a period of five days by scrap metal buyers before processing; and

2.35.    EPA regulatory and enforcement officials being prohibited from receiving or carrying weapons during performance of their duties.

3.         We oppose the militarization of federal agencies beyond traditional law enforcement or self-protection.

179 / National Security

1.             The president and Congress should maintain a foreign policy of peace through strength.

2.         We support:

2.1.      A secure United States border;

2.2.      A strong national defense policy, encouraging efficient use and accountability of tax dollars while eliminating waste;

2.3.      A national security policy that prioritizes protecting the Nation's food, fiber, water supply, critical agricultural materials and fuel;

2.4.      U.S. military personnel always being under the direct command of U.S. military commanders;

2.5.      The provision of easily accessible medical care and compensation for health complications resulting from active duty for all veterans of foreign wars or conflicts or after actions required of those wars and conflicts;

2.6.      Amending the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to provide all reservists (including the National Guard) with credit for every day of active service, regardless of the fiscal year, retroactive to September 11, 2001, to be applied towards a reduction in the reserve military retirement age, for those who have attained 20 good years of service; 

2.7.      The continuation of Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs (ROTC) at high school, college and university levels;

2.8.      Coordination between USDA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on issues affecting agriculture;

2.9.      Action that would bring about a global ban on land mines;

2.10.    Proof of enrollment and attendance in class for every foreign national, in the U.S. on a student visa, while in the United States;

2.11.    Reconsideration of the rules and regulations by DHS concerning national incident management systems as they apply to rural communities of 10,000 people or less; 

2.12.    The Foreign Agents Registration Act being revamped to place more stringent regulations on lobbyists representing foreign interests;

2.13.    A national comprehensive energy policy that will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy;

2.14.    Provisions from the DHS and the U.S. Coast Guard to permit non-Transportation Worker Identification Credential H-2A workers entry into a U.S. Port facility with an escort or visual identification (i.e. vest) in order to deliver raw agricultural commodities to a commodity facility located within a U.S. Port; 

2.15.    The use of lease agreements designed to allow land to remain in agriculture for a specific number of years rather than in perpetuity, for buffer areas around military bases; and

2.16.    Government entities sharing background and fingerprint records among agencies for licensing services to reduce duplication.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Massive land expansion proposals at several U.S. military bases. If acquisition is approved, provisions must be provided to assure the preservation or replacement by the federal government of the tax revenues in those taxing districts affected by such acquisitions;

3.2.      U.S. military personnel being used as a United Nations police force or in areas where we have no vital interest;

3.3.      Any legislative or regulatory action, by DHS that will result in undue restrictions on agriculture;

3.4.      Assessing registration fees on farmers who are required to register with the DHS for propane or other agricultural inputs stored on farm; and

3.5.      The U.S. Air Force expansion of the Powder River Training Complex.