Section 2 - Farm Policy / Trade

Section 2 - Farm Policy / Trade

COMMODITIES 

201 / Apple Industry

1.             Emphasis should be placed on assisting the apple industry to remain economically viable by:

1.1.      Challenging agricultural researchers to increase work aimed at enhancing profitability;

1.2.      Expanding efforts to explore market opportunities for apple growers; and 

1.3.      Addressing disadvantages for U.S. producers that have been created through trade agreements and trade policy, that provide unfair advantages to foreign competitors in domestic and foreign markets, especially in the area of apple juice concentrate. 

2.         We support:

2.1.      Continued funding of fire blight and post-harvest apple research;

2.2.      Expansion of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases of apples for use in domestic food programs; and

2.3.      USDA updating the grade standards for apples so the Risk Management Agency (RMA) can utilize current industry standards in crop insurance.

202 / Cotton

1.             We support:

1.1.      Instrument classing of cotton;

1.2.      The continued development, improvement and further refinement of cotton classing equipment and procedures;

1.3.      Elimination of the classer assignment of color as the official color grade;

1.4.      Adoption of high volume instrument (HVI) color as the official color grade;

1.5.      Producers having the option to have cotton HVI classed by module/trailer averaging or individual bale;

1.6.      Re-evaluation of cotton grade standards to assure that these standards accurately reflect the value of cotton, with special emphasis given to low micronaire and other grade discounts;

1.7.      Monitoring "cotton flow" rules and oppose any changes that would penalize the producer;

1.8.      The cotton research and promotion program;

1.9.      The cotton division of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services making the cotton classification information available to farmers electronically while retaining its identity and privacy;

1.10.    Classing offices maintaining its emphasis on timely, accurate and cost-effective service;

1.11.    Full funding of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP) and of the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program: 

1.11.1. The Secretary of Agriculture expediting the availability of appropriated low interest revolving funds that are used to facilitate the expansion of the BWEP; 

1.11.2. Continuation of The Farm Service Agency collection of funds (under state authority), certification of cotton acreage, assistance in conducting referendums and making farm maps available for the BWEP;

1.11.3. Allowing cotton to be grown for education and agritourism as long as it is under BWEP supervision;

1.11.4. Working with Mexico to control weevil populations along the US-Mexico border; and

1.11.5. Developing a means to assure the boll weevil remains suppressed outside the borders of the U.S.;

1.12.    Continued monitoring of the Step 3 competitiveness program and technical changes to limit foreign imports of cotton when domestic prices of cotton are at relatively low levels;

1.13.    The appointment of an advisory committee by the Secretary of Agriculture to study the daily spot market quotations to develop a mechanism for discovering the true value of quality differences at the producer level; 

1.14.    Research to minimize shrinkage problems with cotton products;

1.15.    Research for the usage of gossypol acid-free cottonseed;

1.16.    A Federal Crop Insurance replant rider provision;

1.17.    Research funding dedicated to Fusarium Race 4; and

1.18.    The cotton marketing loan at 52 cents per pound.

203 / Honey and Apiculture

1.             We support:

1.1.      Development of a national standard of identity for honey, to include identification of all additives and/or adulterations; 

1.2.      Allowing honey bees to be placed on government-owned or managed lands;

1.3.      Programs that increase the availability and additional planting of non-noxious pollinator forage on private and government-owned or managed lands;

1.4.      Adequate funding for regionally-located Agricultural Research Service honey bee research centers; 

1.5.      Funding for research to find practical, effective methods to control or reduce bee pests and disease, prioritizing Varroa mites;

1.6.      Programs at the federal and state level to fast-track evaluation and registration of effective compounds and management techniques to enable beekeepers to have alternative control strategies and materials; 

1.7.      Development of specific domestic (state and federal) quarantine protocols for all life stages of the honey bee to ensure the protection of U.S. honey bees from diseases, pests and parasites that could be introduced into the country by accompanying importation of foreign stocks; 

1.8.      A state-led, voluntary Pollinator Stewardship Program that emphasizes increased stakeholder communication and education, increased research in Best Management Practices (BMP) standards, and promotion of the Bee Flag identification program; 

1.9.      The continued use of drugs currently used by beekeepers and available over the counter for the control of American and European Foulbrood until there is a protocol in place; and

1.10.    Programs to provide stability for the domestic bee industry which can help assure adequate pollination of all crops.

2.         We oppose imported honey being blended with domestic honey and marketed as a domestic product.

204 / Industrial Hemp

1.             We support the production, processing, commercialization and utilization of industrial hemp and that it be regulated by USDA rather than the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

205 / Maple

1.             We support:

1.1.      Continuation of testing to detect adulteration of pure maple products;

1.2.      Reinstatement of projects at federal forest laboratories aimed at developing maple stock with higher sugar content and techniques for control of damaging insects and fungus root rot diseases; 

1.3.      An aggressive national and state effort to halt the spread of non-native pathogens and pests which endanger agricultural production, such as the Asian Long Horned Beetle (ALB). Measures specific to ALB should include:

1.3.1.   A ban on untreated wood products and packing materials from countries with known populations of ALBs;

1.3.2.   Monitoring all imported wood products;

1.3.3.   Funding for research on methods to halt the spread of ALBs; and

1.3.4.   Creating an information hotline for ALBs so sightings can be promptly reported to USDA;

1.4.      Action by the U.S. Forest Service to:

1.4.1.   Reduce the required application process to 90 days for utilizing public forest land;

1.4.2.   Waive the requirement for an environmental impact study;

1.4.3.   Waive the cost of a public hearing; and

1.4.4.   Establish per tap costs that reflect regional market conditions. 

206 / Peanuts

1.             We support:

1.1.      The efforts of growers and USDA to develop expanded export markets for peanuts; 

1.2.      A base grade for farmer stock peanuts of 71; 

1.3.      USDA only being allowed to offer peanuts for disposition for crushing and not for edible use after the expiration of the nine month loan period; 

1.4.      The national seasonal average price to calculate any potential price loss coverage (PLC) being based on type and not the current national seasonal weighted average price; and

1.5.      An increase in percent damage from 2.49 percent to 3.49 percent on the farmer stock level before the peanuts are considered Seg 2s.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Creation of free trade zones for peanuts which would allow peanut kernels and in-shell peanuts to be imported into the United States in excess of limits set forth in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement; and

2.2.      The Farm Service Agency charging a service fee for handling warehouse receipts for peanuts placed under loan.

207 / Soybeans and Other Oilseeds

1.             We support:

1.1.      National programs for domestically produced soybeans, oilseeds and related product promotion and research; and

1.2.      Increased efforts to speed the release of varieties resistant to Asian Soybean Rust.

208 / Specialty Crops

1.             Specialty crops are an integral part of U.S. agriculture.

2.         We support:

2.1.      The inclusion of a specialty crops title in future farm bills;

2.2.      Additional research into harvest and cultural practices;

2.3.      Expanded disease and pest research programs and improved pest exclusion programs; 

2.4.      Funding to promote market expansion of U.S.-produced specialty crops; and

2.5.      The Concord grape industry developing and financing a termed stopgap profit/loss subsidy program to mitigate the impact of producer losses as the result of an upside-down market.

209 / Sugar

1.             We support:

1.1.      A program to protect the interests of domestic sugar producers and recommend that any appropriate legislation should include provisions that ensure a strong and economically viable domestic sugar industry;

1.2.      Retention of the current loan rate as a minimum;

1.3.      Elimination of the marketing assessment fee(s) or loan forfeiture penalties;

1.4.      Increased research and development funding for bio-based energy and bio-based products utilizing sugar crops;

1.5.      USDA publishing monthly USDA-validated reports on Mexico sugar consumption, production, processing, exports, imports, and non-food use, similar to reports available in the United States; 

1.6.      Maintaining the current 2014 sugar provisions in the next farm bill; and 

1.7.      Domestic allocations should be distributed to sugar from domestically produced cane or beets to their respective sectors before increasing import allocations.

2.         We encourage both the U.S. and Mexico to continue discussions to develop a workable sugar program.

210 / Table Wine

1.             We support allowing farm wineries to:

1.1.      Sell wine on premises;

1.2.      Sell, deliver and ship wine directly to consumers off premises in any state, subject to a state's minimum legal age requirements; and

1.3.      Sell, deliver and ship wine directly to retail stores and restaurants.

211 / Tobacco

1.             We support:

1.1.      Tobacco production solutions which protect the growers;

1.2.      The maintenance of an active USDA Tobacco Advisory or similar committee representing the tobacco industry to address the new issues facing growers; 

1.3.      Industry options for grading standards, similar to grain and livestock, so there is an equitable way of grading and pricing for crop insurance purposes;

1.4.      Establishment of procedures to prevent biotech tobacco from being commingled with traditional tobacco; 

1.5.      Legislation allowing states to retain 100 percent of their master settlement agreement dollars and we encourage every state Farm Bureau to pursue 50 percent of their respective state's funds for strengthening their agricultural economy; 

1.6.      Strict enforcement of state laws which prohibit the sale of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vapor products to minors and packaging liquid nicotine products in child proof containers; 

1.7.      All substances or ingredients in e-cigarettes or vapor products falling under the same regulatory oversight as domestic or imported tobacco; as well as inspection, labeling and taxation; 

1.8.      USDA collecting data and issuing reports on tobacco acreage, production and prices received by tobacco type. We encourage accurate reporting in the Ag Census of all tobacco acres, in all states;

1.9.      Tobacco grower co-ops;

1.10.    Legislation to eliminate imported tobacco from being exported as U.S. tobacco; 

1.11.    Universal good agricultural practices (GAP) training;

1.12.    A two-tiered crop insurance program for tobacco with the base rate being available for all tobacco. The second tier buy-up level would include tobacco grown under contract;  

1.13.    All tobacco be reported on form 578 to the Farm Service Agency;

1.14.    All tobacco producers participate in a GAP certification program; and

1.15.    FDA regulation of tobacco be limited to processing and distribution.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      GAP fees or assessments being the responsibility of the grower; and

2.2.      Any agency banning flavorings or ingredients that are necessary for the manufacture of tobacco products. 

CROP INSURANCE / RISK MARKETING 

220 / Basis Areas and Transportation

1.             We support research into the delivery location, pricing and other factors associated with grain marketing so producers may receive the best possible price for their crop. 

221 / Commodity Futures and Options

1.             Commodity futures and options trading serves a useful purpose for a number of commodities by providing a means to transfer certain types of risk. Other commodities should be included where need exists and research shows futures and options trading would be beneficial. 

2.         We support: 

2.1.      Maintaining the integrity of all U.S. commodity futures and options exchanges as a pricing mechanism by the members of the exchanges and their overseeing governing bodies. Such integrity includes consistent convergence between cash prices at delivery points and futures prices at contract expiration; 

2.2.      Strict enforcement of regulatory laws; 

2.3.      Regular review and strengthening when necessary of the Commodity Exchange Act and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations which deal with the use, investment and reporting of segregated customer funds to protect and preserve the value of individual margin accounts; 

2.4.      The use of off-exchange agricultural trade option contracts in commodity marketing, which would include complete risk disclosure, vendor integrity and the opportunity for cash settlement of the option; 

2.5.      Providing educational programs for producers to learn about risk management tools and working with commodity buyers to offer agricultural trade option contracts; 

2.6.      Maintaining agricultural representation on the CFTC; 

2.7.      Encouraging CFTC to require additional delivery points and assure an adequate delivery system; 

2.8.      State Farm Bureaus and their affiliated marketing agencies encouraging the expansion of forward pricing services based on futures and options and strengthening current programs; 

2.9.      Worldwide electronic trading at U.S. commodity exchanges; 

2.10.    Expanded use of mini-futures contracts on all commodity exchanges; 

2.11.    Changes in current futures contracts if research shows that such changes will result in maintaining or increasing liquidity of the market; 

2.12.    Increasing oversight by CFTC of futures exchanges and floor traders to ensure that integrity of these markets is maintained and to curb practices that result in manipulation or artificial price swings; 

2.13.    CFTC requiring that all participants, buyers, and sellers in the commodities futures business be registered and easily identified by CFTC; 

2.14.    CFTC publishing futures and options positions held by institutions that both report production data and actively take market positions; 

2.15.    Reviewing price-setting mechanisms in order to make recommendations for the most effective price discovery systems for identity-preserved grains; 

2.16.    The governing body of the commodity exchanges continuing to establish predetermined, publicized limits for commodity trading and margins at various market price levels for each commodity;

2.17.    Conducting a review and actively participating in the reauthorization of the Commodities Exchange Act. That review will seek to minimize price manipulation and ensure the markets are effective as a price discovery mechanism given the increasing levels of contract production; 

2.18.    Commodity exchanges having an active and viable agriculture advisory committee; 

2.19.    Regular and thorough review of CFTC and commodity markets;  

2.20.    Research for the development of effective risk management tools for hedging input costs; 

2.21.    The use of marketing tools or other marketing alternatives; 

2.22.    Hedge-to-arrive contracts being honored when used as a marketing tool that ensures delivery of the commodity on the contract and has a set delivery date. Those entering into agreements or contracts should be held liable for their own actions; and

2.23.    For futures contracts where physical delivery is an option, efforts being made to ensure the compliance of delivery to futures traders remains fully intact. 

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Efforts by CFTC to regulate cash grain; 

3.2.      Efforts to combine CFTC and the Securities Exchange Commission and support regulation of the commodity futures business by CFTC; and 

3.3.      Efforts by the commodity exchanges to charge a fee for delayed market quotes. 

222 / Federal Marketing and Bargaining Legislation

1.             We support the enactment of a comprehensive federal marketing and bargaining act. This legislation should be available to producers in all states if they desire to organize marketing associations and operate within the provisions of the act. It should establish procedures for:

1.1.      Defining bargaining units;

1.2.      Accrediting associations to bargain as exclusive agents for all producer-members of bargaining units;

1.3.      Good faith bargaining between accredited associations, handlers and processors;

1.4.      Establishing minimum requirements and rights in the operation of accredited associations; and

1.5.      Resolving bargaining impasses by mediation and arbitration by a joint settlement committee utilizing the principle of final offer selection.

2.         We support enactment of legislation to amend the Agricultural Fair Practices Act to allow state marketing associations to represent all producers of a commodity under the majority rule concept and require handlers to recognize and deal with associations of producers.

223 / Federal Marketing Orders

1.             Federal marketing orders should be designed to provide for orderly marketing and an even flow of high quality products to consumers.

2.         We support the issuance, for industry vote, of any new federal marketing order for promotion, education, research and orderly marketing under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, which meets the following criteria: 

2.1.      Be paid for and controlled by producers; within the bounds of the court;

2.2.      Be used to maintain and expand markets;

2.3.      Provide opportunity for new producers to enter the industry;

2.4.      Contain a provision for periodic review through referenda to determine if the producers covered by an order favor its continuation;

2.5.      Allow a minority of producers to petition for a rehearing or a new referendum;

2.6.      Cover commodities which are produced for the same general market irrespective of the production area;

2.7.      Provide that rejection of a proposed amendment shall not result in termination of the entire order; and

2.8.      Provide for termination of an existing order only by producer referendum.

3.         Orders should not be used to control production directly, establish closed markets, maintain artificially high prices or collect funds for the purchase of agricultural products for diversion purposes. 

4.         Marketing orders for commodities produced for processing should not require processor approval when confined to raw agricultural products. We support an amendment to the act to permit the development of orders for any agricultural commodity and its products when producers request it.

5.         We urge USDA to be a strong advocate of federal marketing orders. We oppose the delegation of USDA's authority to any other agency and any efforts to weaken the act.

6.         Marketing orders should be implemented on a timely basis once approved by growers.

7.         In federal marketing order referendums, the members of a nonprofit agricultural cooperative marketing association should be informed of the intended position of the cooperative before the bloc vote is exercised. Boards of directors of agricultural cooperatives should be allowed to vote for their members on marketing order questions, provided each member is given the right to cast his own ballot in any referendum.

224 / Marketing Philosophy

1.             We should work aggressively to see that farm producers receive maximum profitable prices for their commodities. We reaffirm our belief in the laws of supply and demand and the free and open movement of the market and its prices. Every educational means available should be used to educate farmers and ranchers on the principles of a market-oriented agriculture. Land grant colleges should be funded to develop and implement this educational goal.

2.         We support: 

2.1.      Legislation to require payment in full within 30 days of sale for all agriculture commodities, unless otherwise agreed to by the seller, at all levels of the agricultural marketing chain; 

2.2.      The principle of keeping farm-to-consumer channels open; 

2.3.      Efforts to ensure open markets to all producers; 

2.4.      Legislation prohibiting states from imposing production standards or practices onto other states’ agricultural products; 

2.5.      An improved USDA commodity price reporting system based upon required price reporting by first purchasers. USDA should establish a mechanism to monitor and report changes in the farm-to-consumer price spread for commodities; 

2.6.      Developments in electronic marketing and encourage our members to use them where possible; and 

2.7.      Providing value-added marketing opportunities for farm producers and encouraging of the use of U.S. farm products; and 

2.8.      Funding for the Value Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grant to help producers develop value-added enterprises. 

3.         We will continue to oppose the efforts of any group which, by force or intimidation, would deny buyers the freedom of choice in the marketplace. We oppose the use of slotting fees. Public institutions should be required to buy domestic agricultural products when they are available. 

4.         We continue to take aggressive steps to investigate and solve national and international marketing problems through the expansion of existing marketing projects and the development and implementation of new programs where feasible.

5.         We will:

5.1.      Monitor the current changes in marketing practices for many farm commodities which are moving from producer to buyer without entering the open market, but are being produced and marketed to contractual specifications;

5.2.      Determine the need for any necessary legislation to ensure that farmers engaging in contract production and marketing are adequately protected;

5.3.      Assist individual member producers in their efforts to negotiate fair and equitable production contracts by:

5.3.1.   Developing an information clearinghouse on and glossary of terms for production contracts;

5.3.2.   Working with commodity groups in developing a list of negotiators available for individual member producers to contact in assisting them in negotiating production contracts;

5.3.3.   Seeking legislation to limit production contract nondisclosure provisions;

5.3.4.   Educating producers about the risks involved with buyers call provisions and ensuring that these provisions include:

5.3.4.1.            Specific delivery periods with negotiated final delivery date;

5.3.4.2.            Payments to seller if delivery period exceeds original contracted delivery period or if buyer "calls" for delivery prior to the contracted delivery period; and

5.3.4.3.            Pricing ability to and beyond delivery;

5.3.5.   Support farmers' ability to choose arbitration, mediation or a civil trial in any and all disputes between farmers and agribusinesses. We therefore support legislation that prohibits clauses in agricultural marketing or production contracts that require farmers to submit to arbitration and give up rights to mediation or a civil trial;

5.4.      Study the establishment of a mechanism to provide education and information for farmers engaged in contract production and marketing;

5.5.      Continue to investigate and evaluate new concepts that will allow the market to give accurate economic signals;

5.6.      Encourage seed and chemical companies to include local elevators in the premium structure, thus making specialty crops available to more farmers;

5.7.      Aid farmers in forming small local producing groups that could aid farmers in capturing specialty production premiums;

5.8.      Encourage companies that contract with producers to offer them stock purchases or profit sharing; and

5.9.      Publicly urge all parties who have entered into commodity marketing agreements to fulfill those agreements, despite changes in the prices for the commodity so contracted.

6.         We believe that the marketing of grain should remain in the hands of private individuals and organizations. We oppose the formation of any new interstate grain compact.

225 / Risk Management/Crop Insurance

1.              Crop/Revenue Insurance 

1.1.      We support:

1.1.1.   The availability of crop yield and/or revenue insurance for all producers of all crops, aquaculture livestock and poultry in the country; 

1.1.2.   The development of new risk management programs to supplement or be an alternative to current crop and future livestock insurance programs; 

1.1.3.   Annual reviews to ensure proper premium ratings that are actuarially sound by crop, county and state;

1.1.4.   Continuation of the federal government financial support, at a percent not less than current levels, for the program with the private sector continuing to serve as the primary deliverer of insurance;

1.1.5.   Continuation of everyone being eligible for the program, regardless of size of the operation or payments;

1.1.6.   Improved risk management education programs;

1.1.7.   Providing producers of all crops options for various insurance products that accurately reflect individual risk considerations regardless of end-market designation when making crop insurance purchasing decisions;

1.1.8.   The ability of an insurance provider to bring new technology and innovation to the crop insurance industry;

1.1.9.   Requiring clear delineation during the sales and billing processes to distinguish between federal crop insurance policies and private company add-on products; 

1.1.10. Development of crop revenue policies that provide coverage for all grain quality discounts, including unmarketable grain and grain damaged by acts of nature, for producers that follow good farming practices determined by the Risk Management Agency (RMA). Discount factors must be comparable to the level of discounts experienced by producers in the market;

1.1.11. Loss calculations utilizing quality standards recognized in the marketplace;

1.1.12. Actual Production History (APH) not being affected when a crop is unable to be planted and prevented planting payments are accepted;

1.1.13. APH reflecting actual yield with no reduction for quality losses;

1.1.14. Alteration of crop insurance grain quality adjustments to reflect USDA grain inspection standards. When verifying crop quality loss adjustments, sampling and inspection conducted by state or federally licensed elevators grading to a "marketable" quality product should be accepted proof of loss;

1.1.15. Revising loss adjustment procedures for aflatoxin/vomitoxin by multiplying the Quality Adjustment Factor (QAF) by the crop insurance price instead of bushels delivered;

1.1.16. Updating planting dates and replanting dates to better reflect variety maturity, growing season length, Land Grant University or processor recommendations, geographic areas and weather conditions. We also support flexibility to allow the secretary of agriculture to adjust planting and harvest dates, with loss protection for changing those dates provided to private companies. All crop acreage reporting dates should be a minimum of 30 days after the actual planting date;

1.1.17. Payment reduction of 65 percent for haying and grazing a cover crop before October 1st on prevented planting acres;

1.1.18. Changes to RMA qualifications of a beginning farmer from 5 years to coincide with Farm Service Agency (FSA) qualification of 10 years; 

1.1.19. Special provisions for seed crops requiring pollinator rows for seed production;

1.1.20. Removing mandatory harvest requirements from federal crop insurance claim provisions;

1.1.21. Planting and harvesting technologies being accepted for compliance for crop insurance unit designation; 

1.1.22. Coordination of rules between the RMA and the FSA to allow for proper differentiation between irrigated and non-irrigated tracts within a farm;

1.1.23. Federal crop insurance recognizing FSA figures and maps;

1.1.24. Changes to RMA standards that allow more than one tract, in lieu of more than one FSA farm serial number, to qualify for Enterprise Units;

1.1.25. A crop insurance program which offers replant benefits that accurately reflect actual cost of replanting the damaged crop;

1.1.26. Simplifying application, reporting and claim procedures by promoting flexibility in the process and communication between agents, adjusters, FSA and others;

1.1.27. A program which requires consistent interpretation and implementation of all federal crop insurance provisions, especially Prevented Planting provisions;

1.1.28. Allowing acreage reporting revisions based on accurate FSA certification;

1.1.29. Timely adjustment and payment of claims;

1.1.30. RMA requiring approved insurance providers (AIP) to compensate a producer in the amount of 18 percent Annual Percentage Rate (APR), should the company not settle a claim within 60 days;

1.1.31. The APH staying with the land;

1.1.32. Requiring RMA claim guidelines to take into consideration economic justification when Best Management Practices are used to determine treatment thresholds and timeliness of applications;

1.1.33. Having RMA change the test weight "reduction in value" discount in corn back to original regional levels;

1.1.34. The exclusion of crop losses caused by other parties' negligence in the calculation of APHs;

1.1.35. Farm owner/operator choice to combine or separate farms, tracts or fields rather than being designated as a single farm unit;

1.1.36. The structuring of crop insurance policies so that premiums do not continue to increase for producers whose APH yields are lowered due to multi-year losses;

1.1.37. Allowing new producers and/or beginning farmers to use county RMA averages instead of the T-yield when establishing yield for federal crop insurance;

1.1.38. Adjusting crops at or below harvest cost to be considered a zero level of production;

1.1.39. The removal of "production to count" from all crop insurance policies;

1.1.40. USDA developing standard production evidence procedures for both FSA and crop insurance purposes;

1.1.41. Making Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) policies available in all counties;

1.1.42. Requiring USDA to release the individual county final yield averages needed for ARPI policies one month prior to the deadline for the crop insurance sales closing date for the federal crop insurance program; 

1.1.43. Using actual production yields rather than NASS survey yields to calculate ARPI insurance policies;

1.1.44. Requiring crop insurance agents to receive training and pass a written examination on each specific crop they wish to be certified to sell;

1.1.45. Abolishing or modifying the "one-in-three" rule that requires a farmer to plant and harvest a particular program crop at least one out of three years in a field in order for that crop to be eligible for crop insurance;

1.1.46. Exempting a year that is declared a disaster from the "one-in-three" calculation; 

1.1.47. A crop insurance policy provision to provide coverage due to regulation of a quarantined disease;

1.1.48. Trend Yield adjustments for all insurable commodities;

1.1.49. Provisions that allow increasing APH when adopting new technologies such as drip irrigation;

1.1.50. Allowing harvested apples and peaches, regardless of the intended use, to be counted toward yield and APH;

1.1.51. Elimination of the "staged production guarantee"; 

1.1.52. Making permanent the emergency rule allowing winter cover crops to be harvested in the spring without jeopardizing crop insurance eligibility for the primary crop planted after the winter crop is harvested;

1.1.53. Adopting conservation practices to control soil and nutrient loss on acres that are eligible to receive prevented planting payments;

1.1.54. Requiring crop insurance premium due dates to be set based on harvest zone times and due when crops are harvested, not before; 

1.1.55. A producer receiving an APH based on the settlement yield when a canning field is "passed" for harvest;

1.1.56. Producers who rotate crops being allowed to qualify for county average when calculating yields for the purpose of federal crop insurance on acres producing crops historically grown in their geographic area; 

1.1.57. Allowing farmers to separately insure by practice, such as double cropping, irrigation/non-irrigation, or organic/non-organic as part of either a basic or an enterprise unit so that neither crop’s claim calculation impacts the other;

1.1.58. A farmer receiving a portion of their claim (50-75 percent) when the toxin level qualifies the grain as a total loss and the farmer is eligible for a claim. The balance of the money should be paid when the grain is completely disposed;

1.1.59. A crop insurance program which allows the use of all elevator quality factors conducted by certified graders using certified testing equipment. These factors include moisture, foreign material, test weight, damage, alpha-amylase enzyme and mycotoxins;

1.1.60. Rule changes that would allow farmers to recover commodity losses under the crop insurance program if they have been adversely affected by erroneous information given out by FDA and USDA;

1.1.61. Legislation which strongly addresses crop insurance fraud;

1.1.62. The Pasture, Rangeland and Forestry (PRF) program being based on smaller rainfall index quadrants to give each farm an accurate assessment; 

1.1.63. Specialty crop insurance products being made available to commodity specific producers who request coverage provided a survey be conducted of the relevant industry; 

1.1.64. A study on an insurance premium discount for producers who use new technologies that protect against yield loss; 

1.1.65. Payment of crop insurance claims for crop losses caused when authorities intentionally breach a levee or open a federal control structure;

1.1.66. The continuing availability of crop insurance for tobacco including fields with an acceptable crop rotation management plan; 

1.1.67. Fields used for crop rotation, including forage crops, being exempt from the sodbuster regulation for crop insurance; 

1.1.68. Maintaining up-to-date federal rate maps to reflect flood and other risks as accurately as possible;

1.1.69. Development of a crop revenue policy for limited irrigated crops; 

1.1.70. A re-evaluation of irrigated T-yields to ensure they are more in line with water use; 

1.1.71. Changing the tolerance for production yield for rice from one pound per acre to one one-hundredweight (cwt) per acre;

1.1.72. A crop insurance program that covers a crop until the time of the crop’s normal harvest time, and the policy includes provisions for abnormally late harvest due to adverse weather events;

1.1.73. The ability of all states to insure individual blocks of grape varieties;

1.1.74. The current legislatively approved farmer premium discount schedule;

1.1.75. Acres planted to cover crops managed to promote soil health be considered “fallow” for the following year’s crop including fall planted crops; and

1.1.76. Creation of a stakeholder advisory committee within each RMA regional office. These committees should be composed of producers, Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs), agents, adjusters and regional agronomists to advise policy makers as to possible effect of procedure.

1.2.      We oppose:

1.2.1.   Requiring irrigation after crop failure has occurred;

1.2.2.   The double selling of tobacco pounds through the use of both the open market and contracts when federal tobacco crop insurance claims are sought. The acreage for tobacco crops on which insurance is paid should be verified to be destroyed and not allowed to be marketed;

1.2.3.   Crop insurance that includes an automatic harvest deduction rather than a calculation by a crop adjuster only for grape producers;

1.2.4.   RMA announcing special provision changes so late in the season that it negatively affects producers who have already made plans and rental agreements for the next year's particular crop;

1.2.5.   Caps or limits being applied to crop insurance premium assistance to producers; 

1.2.6.   Means testing and payment limitations for crop insurance; and 

1.2.7.   Farmers being charged a farm visit fee to verify that a cover crop that includes a fruit and/or vegetable was not harvested as a fruit or vegetable.

2.          Disaster Programs 

2.1.      We support:

2.1.1.   Programs for livestock and tree producers, which include the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), and the Emergency Haying and Grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) authorities;

2.1.2.   The creation of voluntary risk management products for contracted poultry growers to assist them financially during disease outbreaks or interruption in the supply of birds; 

2.1.3.   A federal flood insurance program for grain stored on farms;

2.1.4.   Disaster assistance for catastrophic natural disasters that:

2.1.4.1.            Provides assistance for quantity and quality losses;

2.1.4.2.            Covers all affected segments of agriculture;

2.1.4.3.            Does not exclude declared types of natural disasters;

2.1.4.4.            Provides timely delivery of assistance; and

2.1.4.5.            Requires recipients to have crop insurance or NAP coverage, if it is available for their commodity;

2.1.5.   Not penalizing producers who have purchased higher levels of crop insurance;

2.1.6.   The availability of disaster assistance payments for producers who are victims of bioterrorism;

2.1.7.   Disaster payment determinations based on best available data;

2.1.8.   Allocation of disaster assistance by Congress without regard to existing farm program payments;

2.1.9.   The ability of a producer to receive disaster assistance in the year of the disaster even if harvest is scheduled for the following year;

2.1.10. Disaster coverage for crop losses due to governmental restrictions or pest infestations; 

2.1.11. USDA Emergency Loan interest rates being set lower than other USDA loan rates; 

2.1.12. Producers who have paid the maximum NAP fee of $750.00 for three specified crops in a county being considered in compliance for disaster-related programs and the statement "or any other" crop being included in the policy. The NAP premium should be pro-rated to reflect appropriate percentages of crop ownership as stated in the rental agreement; 

2.1.13. Efforts to streamline the FSA NAP insurance program record keeping requirements for multi-crop farms; 

2.1.14. Acres planted for conservation programs designed to promote soil health that are destroyed by the crop insurance deadline should be considered "fallow" for the following year's crop, including fall planted crops;

2.1.15. NAP coverage for all instances of double crops be permitted unless a certified crop advisor determines the practice is not a Best Management Practice; and

2.1.16. Increased funding for livestock disaster assistance programs, such as ELAP. We recommend that poultry disaster assistance be authorized for growers, including contract growers, and implemented by USDA to cover Avian Flu production/revenue losses and associated disposal and clean-up costs.

3.          Business Interruption 

3.1.      We support USDA providing business interruption payments and the availability of private business interruption insurance to help manage the risks of a Class A animal disease outbreak.

FARM POLICY / FARM PROGRAMS 

235 / Conservation Reserve Program

1.             We support: 

1.1.      The protection of tenant farmers' rights;

1.2.      Reasonable limits on participation  to protect the economic stability of individual counties or regions; and 

1.3.      Eligibility for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enrollment for highly erodible land producing all crops.

2.         Land that is not environmentally sensitive enough to be placed in the CRP should not be required to have a conservation compliance plan. Land enrolled in CRP should be limited to only those site-specific locations in critical need of conservation measures, such as highly erodible land. In regions where working land conservation programs are better for the rural economy, general whole farm enrollments should be eliminated unless all acres on the farm meet the local criteria for conservation measures. We favor targeted acreage signups that provide enhanced environmental protection, conservation and renewed economic opportunities in these areas.

3.         We support:

3.1.      The current rule limiting CRP acres to 25 percent of the total county crop acres including Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and all experimental pilot projects except for small acreage enrolled in continuous CRP. Any waivers in effect when expiring contracts were enrolled should remain in effect, as determined by the appropriate state Farm Service Agency committee;

3.2.      Producers being allowed to maintain their crop base history on CRP acres as long as the producer has met all contract obligations;

3.3.      Tree planting programs for such land;

3.4.      Farm land that was enrolled in the old CRP program, planted with approved grasses, should not be required to be plowed and reseeded. Established grasses should qualify on highly erodible land accepted in the new CRP sign-up;

3.5.      Existing grass waterways and buffer strips on land with a three-year crop history should be eligible for continuous CRP sign-up. However, acres enrolled in the continuous CRP should not count against county acreage caps;

3.6.      The current CRP rule on length of the rental agreement with farmers continue and that at the end of the 10-year contract the farmer is given the option of bringing the land back into production or bidding it back into the reserve;

3.7.      Cost-share options should be approved to accelerate conservation structure installation in the year prior to CRP contract expiration;

3.8.      Provisions should allow an additional 5 to 10-year extension;

3.9.      CRP contracts should be allowed to remain as written. There should be no additional restrictions put on the use of the land when it comes out of the long-range CRP;

3.10.    Compensation for land removed from production to provide water quality protection. Such land should be eligible for CRP. Producers receiving CRP payments should not be allowed to produce nontraditional crops (biomass) on CRP acres because it provides CRP contract holders an economic advantage over other producers;

3.11.    Haying and grazing of CRP acres be permitted at the discretion of the state FSA office in weather-related or other emergency situations or as a maintenance management tool in a timely manner;

3.12.    That the basic businesses of licensed hunting preserves be allowed to continue to operate on CRP ground;

3.13.    At the end of 3 years of the second 10-year CRP forestry program, the secretary of agriculture should allow producers to thin the trees at their discretion without forgoing CRP payments;

3.14.    Mandatory control of noxious weeds by local and site specific measures on CRP and CREP lands;

3.15.    Making changes to the accepted management practices that are allowed on filter strips or CREP. This would include allowing the strips to be cut and harvested in a timely manner to prevent an adverse effect to run-off waters;

3.16.    A fire protection plan appropriate for each state be included in all present and future CRP contracts;

3.17.    If CRP payments are reduced or delayed for more than 60 days, the producer would have the option to withdraw from the contract without penalty and program crop bases would be restored to their prior level;

3.18.    The payment of interest if CRP payments to participants are more than 30 days past due;

3.19.    The annual controlled burning of CRP land under best management practices (BMP). The landowner and tenant should not be penalized for such burns;

3.20.    Allowing CRP buffer strips to be used for drainage ditch maintenance spoil redeposition with subsequent revegetation; and

3.21.    Altering the qualifications of CRP so that conservation and not wildlife habitat would constitute the primary reason a piece of ground would be selected to participate in CRP.

4.         We believe existing contract holders should have the option to rebid into the program when their contracts expire. Calculation of CRP rental rates should be re-examined to ensure they mirror the rental rates of comparable land in the immediate area. Rates should be based on the agricultural production value of the land.

5.         Contracts for new and re-enrolled acres should reflect the following principles:

5.1.      Class 1 & 2 land would not be eligible for the general sign-up for CRP, and rent should reflect fair market rental rates of the county;

5.2.      Highly erodible farmland, including both wind and water erosion;

5.3.      An expansion of the continuous signup CRP to include:

5.3.1.   Filter strips along waterways;

5.3.2.   Greater widths of waterways, filter strips, field borders and riparian buffers;

5.3.3.   Setbacks at road intersections;

5.3.4.   Crop protection product setbacks around tile inlet structures;

5.3.5.   Up to one acre filter strips around standpipes and other intakes where surface water enters directly into subsurface water;

5.3.6.   Grassed terraces;

5.3.7.   Buffers around villages, timbered areas, irrigation reservoirs, ponds and stormwater retention basins;

5.3.8.   Expanding the statewide allocations on field borders and upland restoration projects; and

5.3.9.   Allowing enrollment of and acceptance of "infeasible to farm" acres (an area that is too small or isolated to be economically farmed);

5.4.      Land retired to enhance air quality;

5.5.      Full point credit in the Environmental Benefits Index under new CRP seeding criteria for current grass stands meeting 75 percent of CRP requirements;

5.6.      A partnership with BLM's Wild Horse and Burro program whereby contract holders could receive either a CRP rental payment or a payment for housing wild horses and burros during all or a portion of the contract;

5.7.      Basing the judging criteria for CRP re-enrollment on the land's erosion potential as cropland and not on its current erosion status as CRP; and

5.8.      Developing a new CRP contract that would allow grazing after five years of enrollment with payments being greatly reduced each year for the remaining 5-10 years left on the contract.

6.         We oppose:

6.1.      Producers being eligible to participate in the CRP who break up fragile land (sodbust) after the CRP contract has been accepted by USDA;

6.2.      Requirements to destroy existing cover on CRP acres and reseed with other species in order to qualify for re-entry into the program;

6.3.      Haying and grazing on CRP acres during the principal growing months. A fee commensurate to the value of the forage should be charged if grazing occurs after the principal growing months; and

6.4.      The use of government programs that provide financial incentives for grazing on expiring CRP acres.

7.         CREP 

7.1.      We support:

7.1.1.   Eligibility for enrollment for all agricultural commodities;

7.1.2.   Ensuring CREP practices not jeopardize maintenance, operation and utilization of drainage and flood control systems or facilities;

7.1.3.   Ensuring CREP practices not jeopardize the economic viability of the operation;

7.1.4.   The continuation of CREP;

7.1.5.   Changes in regulation to allow annual mowing or spraying of all CREP enrolled acres to control noxious weeds; and

7.1.6.   Allowing production on acres enrolled in CREP where the purpose is irrigation retirement.

236 / Environmental Management Systems

1.             We support: 

1.1.      Farmers and ranchers in their efforts to voluntarily develop private resource management plans to manage their agricultural resources while meeting their production, economic and environmental objectives; 

1.2.      State administration of federal environmental programs and encourage such on a state-by-state basis where feasible. Federal cost-share funds should be available; 

1.3.      Codification of resource management plans at the state level being left up to the individual states; 

1.4.      Administration of state environmental plans being under the state agency or department most directly involved with agriculture when a confidentiality-assured environmental management system is voluntarily developed in any state; 

1.5.      All information resulting from an environmental management system should be confidential and the property of the individual farmer or rancher. No portion of it should be stored in any government file or database; 

1.6.      Working to ensure that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and/or any other government agency shall advise farmers and ranchers as to the scope of any confidentiality and immunity, or lack thereof, regarding participation in any environmental management system; 

1.7.      Environmental management systems that are designed to provide positive incentives for producers to manage natural resources in such a way that it will benefit the environment and be economically feasible. The incentives should include education, technical assistance, cost-sharing and acceptable immunity; 

1.8.      Any changes being made to environmental management systems must be initiated only at the option of the farmer or rancher. No immunity should be withdrawn or changed without the consent of the owner of the plan; 

1.9.      When NRCS is involved in resource management planning, the following criteria should guide its actions: 

1.9.1.   NRCS should continue to provide traditional technical and educational resource planning programs for farmers and ranchers if no further action is taken on new forms of environmental management systems; and 

1.9.2.   NRCS has played an important role for many farmers and ranchers in better managing natural resources and that effort should not be lost as program changes are debated;

1.10.    The eligibility of all recognized forest products for inclusion in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. 

2.         We oppose: 

2.1.      Resource planning on farms and ranches being codified into federal law unless it is totally and unquestionably proven to be voluntary, confidential, based on proven performance standards, and providing acceptable immunity for producers who have exercised good faith compliance with all applicable laws and regulations;

2.2.      Attempts by state or federal agencies to develop non-voluntary environmental management systems as a regulatory or permitting framework; 

2.3.      Implementation of commercial fertilizer management plans or whole farm management plans to address natural resource concerns on our farms; and 

2.4.      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ban on planting biotech crops and the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on public lands.

237 / National Conservation and Environmental Policy

1.             We support improving the environment by enhancing conservation, wise use and productivity of our natural resources through private ownership, individual freedom and market-oriented approaches as our most important conservation and environmental goal and a consistent long-term national conservation and environmental policy should be pursued that would:

1.1.      Recognize the importance of improving agricultural productivity, while maintaining a productive natural resource base;

1.2.      Ensure individual freedoms including the right to own and use private property;

1.3.      Balance economic and social costs with real environmental benefits;

1.4.      Encourage voluntary, local and incentive-based approaches that rely on market solutions and/or performance-based approaches in which outcomes are well-defined, identifiable, verifiable and realistic;

1.5.      Focus conservation programs and dollars on soil and water conservation and protection;

1.6.      Base decisions on sound, scientific principles and peer-reviewed science;

1.7.      Recognize that education and technical assistance are key components needed to achieve conservation and environmental goals and objectives;

1.8.      Recognize farmers and ranchers as stewards to the land and protectors of the environment;

1.9.      Minimize potential loss of acres from fencing restrictions adjoining waterways, creeks, ponds and lakes;

Compensate farmers and ranchers at fair market value for environmental or regulatory costs that contribute to the public good; 

Minimize government intervention in agricultural production and private resource management;

1.9.1.   Allow local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel working directly with farmers in coordinating the repair of damage (from normal farming practices) to fields with a highly erodible land (HEL) designation. NRCS should consider field condition limitations before imposing penalties for non-compliance;

1.9.2.   Provide greater flexibility for farmers in receiving technical assistance from government agencies for conservation practices and programs to help farmers and landowners comply with federal environmental regulations;

1.9.3.   The current assistance cap for organic producers; and

1.9.4.   Limiting USDA to 30 days to make wetland determinations.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Zero pollution tolerances because they are technically impossible;

2.2.      Federal pre-emption of state water laws;

2.3.      The use of federal conservation funds for conservation practices on land that is in the process of being developed for non-agricultural use; and

2.4.      Any actions that limit tillage methods.

3.         Watershed and stream management fees by the Fish and Wildlife Service should not infringe on a producer's ability to build ponds, till soils or obtain technical assistance. Good faith efforts and adherence to generally accepted farming practices or NRCS approved conservation practices should provide immunity from civil and criminal prosecution under environmental statutes.

4.         Conservation and Environmental Program Implementation 

4.1.      Conservation programs should be implemented in a manner that achieves adequate program participation while minimizing the undue loss of productive farmland that may artificially inflate local farmland and/or rental values.

4.2.      Federal conservation programs should fund the building of structures such as poultry litter stack houses and composting facilities. The eligibility requirements for this program should be revised to allow more producers to qualify for the program.

4.3.      NRCS conservation and environmental programs should:

4.3.1.   Be controlled and directed locally by farmer committees elected by farmers, and made available to all agricultural producers. The existing prohibition against funding or reimbursement of existing conservation structures should be removed. Funding should be equally available for repair and replacement of existing conservation structures;

4.3.2.   Provide that 80 percent of all USDA conservation funds be targeted for local county use;

4.3.3.   Be voluntary, flexible, site-specific and targeted at specific environmental goals and objectives;

4.3.4.   Make cover crop incentives eligible to all farmers (regardless of cover crop history) with priority given to acres that provide the most benefit or to first time applicants; 

4.3.5.   Allow farmers to repair erosion to their fields without permission;

4.3.6.   Require that all information obtained by government agencies on specific individuals or farms be kept confidential and not made available for public information;

4.3.7.   Require only the minimal amount of planning necessary to ensure success taking into account agronomic and economic factors as well as environmental considerations;

4.3.8.   Provide cost share, tax credits or be based on other positive economic incentives; or provide compensation when an individual's use of property is restricted for the benefit of the public; 

4.3.9.   Promote broad awareness through demonstration projects, information dissemination, education and technical assistance; and

4.3.10. Provide financial and technical support for safe and effective prescribed burning.

4.4.      We support:

4.4.1.   In determining Conservation Compliance:

4.4.1.1.            County FSA committees must be involved in good faith determinations and penalties assessed;

4.4.1.2.            County FSA committees should receive NRCS technical concurrence before reducing conservation compliance good faith penalties;

4.4.1.3.            Federal and/or state endangered species reviews or regulations should not be incorporated;

4.4.1.4.            Farmers should not be held responsible for weather impacts that cause non-compliance but should achieve compliance in a timely manner;

4.4.1.5.            Graduated payment reductions should also apply to wetland violations; and

4.4.1.6.            The effect of practices in place on adjacent properties should be considered;

4.4.2.   Adequate funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for fencing, fresh water and other livestock programs. Funds should be prioritized and distributed on the local level. NRCS should create geographical regions within states to determine cost tables for EQIP. The primary emphasis should be water quality, soil conservation, on-farm alternative energy systems and animal feeding operation requirements with secondary consideration given to innovative practices and wildlife;

4.4.3.   Changing NRCS policy to allow an appropriate extension of EQIP contracts in areas that have been designated federal disaster declarations (Secretarial or Presidential);

4.4.4.   EQIP funding for Wildlife Risk Mitigation plans;

4.4.5.   The use of long-term agreements to maximize the effectiveness of program benefits for existing programs;

4.4.6.   USDA funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help implement conservation practices;

4.4.7.   Funding for cost-share programs, including: consultant fees, the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, technical assistance, soil mapping and publication of soil survey information. Once a cost-sharing practice is completed and approved by the Farm Service Agency, payments should be made to the participant within 30 days;

4.4.8.   Expanding the current NRCS practice of providing 30 percent of conservation practice payments up front, to all farmers;

4.4.9.   Allowing an exemption to the NRCS manual for EQIP money to be used for streambank stabilization practices prior to the adjacent land's expiration in a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract or a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) contract;

4.4.10. Funding to ensure that landowners are adequately compensated whenever property is used for purposes intended to achieve mandated natural resource goals;

4.4.11. Conservation priority areas shall only be established after consultation with local conservation district boards and producers. Federal funding for cost-share under the EQIP should be available for short-term conservation projects previously funded under the agricultural conservation program and be expanded to include cost sharing for on-farm dam building and other projects for water conservation to be used for livestock and irrigation;

4.4.12. A technical certification process and sufficient funding for private sector conservation technicians in which certified technicians would be able to develop and revise conservation plans, provide all required plans and services to farmers within six months of request and install and certify conservation practices. Farmers should be able to work with their NRCS district conservationist to develop the conservation plan required by the 2002 farm bill and not be required to hire the service of a technical service provider (TSP). We urge NRCS to streamline the Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan process and TSP certification;

4.4.13. Development of market-based incentives, pollution permit trading as alternatives to government prescriptions;

4.4.14. Preparation of a list identifying existing state and federal environmental regulations/requirements which impact agriculture;

4.4.15. Legislative protection for landowners from liability resulting from malfunctions of terraces, structures or other mandates of government regulations;

4.4.16. Tree planting as a permanent and economical soil conservation practice that protects marginal, fragile or highly erodible land. In areas along streams and rivers where trees present a hazard of creating debris after a flooding event, NRCS should instead prioritize usage of reed canary grass, tall fescue or other water-tolerant perennial grasses;

4.4.17. Funding and maintaining the Forest Land Enhancement Program;

4.4.18. Funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) with greater accessibility to farmers;

4.4.19. Annual open enrollment for the CSP with shortened contracts if funding for the program cannot fully accommodate all applicants;

4.4.20. A farmer being allowed to opt out of CSP requirements without penalty if the contract is not fully funded;

4.4.21. CSP eligibility based on best management practices including IPM;

4.4.22. Enrollment in conservation programs without a requirement to re-seed existing perennial non-noxious cover to meet diversity goals;

4.4.23. Grassland and farmland protection programs;

4.4.24. Funding for rehabilitation and maintenance for flood prevention sites through low interest loans and grants;

4.4.25. The commercial use of un-manned air systems for natural resource management; 

4.4.26. That two-stage ditches and land used for their construction be eligible for conservation program funding; 

4.4.27. EQIP projects (contracts) for alternative mortality disposal facilities (composting sheds and/or mechanical composters) be eligible for approval/funding as soon as livestock placement commitments are proven and construction has begun; and

4.4.28. An exemption from the current three-year payment limit for the same practice under EQIP for practices that benefit wildlife and have a continual cost to the farmer or rancher implementing them.

4.5.      We recommend NRCS guidelines and approval processes for building farm ponds should be the accepted standard without intervention by other government agencies.

4.6.      We recommend the federal guidelines on building of farm and ranch ponds be relaxed to allow for the construction of more ponds. We recommend more cost-sharing for pond construction. 

4.7.      We recommend that distribution of federal funds be simplified and more accessible; moreover, funds should be distributed by county or state entities, when possible.

4.8.      We recommend NRCS remaining under USDA and acting as a non-regulatory mediator on behalf of producers in environmental compliance issues with regulatory agencies.

238 / National Dairy Program

1.             We support:

1.1.      A market-oriented national dairy program that allows U.S. producers to compete in a world market based on fair and open trade policies;

1.2.      An expanded role for markets and private enterprise in establishing prices for all classes of milk;

1.3.      A competitive pay price;

1.4.      Modifications in the Federal Milk Marketing Order structure, formulas and price classes used to compute milk prices in order to better reflect current market conditions and enhance transparency and take into account the regional differences in the cost of milk production and incorporate multiple component pricing into all classes of milk; an economic analysis prior to any major revisions to the number of milk classes or Federal Milk Marketing Orders. This analysis should include economic impacts to the dairy industry and farmer income;

1.5.      Efforts to manage milk supply which account for the regional differences in fluid milk demand and supply;

1.6.      Legislation that treats imports of milk protein concentrates, ultra-filtered milk and casein equivalent to and consistent with the importation of similar dairy products; 

1.7.      Implementation of the California standards for solids-non-fat in fluid milk at the national level;

1.8.      A national program for dairy product promotion, research and nutrition education and the U.S. Dairy Export Council;

1.9.      USDA moving more aggressively on the collection of promotion fees on all U.S. and imported dairy products including milk protein concentrates;

1.10.    Any changes needed to facilitate the long-term market development of value-added products;

1.11.    A national dairy plant security program to enhance a producer's ability to recover losses due to the financial failure of milk handlers or cooperatives. All those procuring milk from producers should be included in the program;

1.12.    Research to determine a "no-effect" level for any antibiotics and aflatoxins in milk according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards;

1.13.    Uniform testing procedures for antibiotics and aflatoxins that detect levels according to FDA standards;

1.14.    Regulations which provide for and require the inspection of all imported dairy products at the port of entry;

1.15.    Banning the sale of artificial or imitation dairy products not labeled imitation;

1.16.    Producers having a priority lien on their milk;

1.17.    Labeling a product cheese only when it is produced from natural milk products;

1.18.    The placing of milk vending machines in public schools;

1.19.    Modifying the Federal Milk Marketing Order system to encourage the production of milk protein concentrates in the United States;

1.20.    Improving price discovery through mandatory daily electronic reporting of more common dairy products including reporting and auditing of prices and inventories. The number of plants being surveyed should be increased as well as the penalties for inaccurate dairy reporting;

1.21.    The enrollment of all dairy producers in the Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Program and their participation in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program;

1.22.    An increased effort by the dairy industry to develop domestic and foreign markets;

1.23.    A state or local inspector accompanying all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspectors. Producers should receive a full report and explanation upon completion of the inspection, which includes: deficiencies, items inspected, equipment disassembled for inspection and overall score;

1.24.    A definition of milk protein concentrate (MPC) and a standard of identity that will define appropriate use of these components as well as a means of enforcement;

1.25.    The use of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) and urge participation by all dairy producers;

1.26.    The concept of expanding the Export Assistance Program of CWT;

1.27.    The producer/handler exemption being limited in all Federal Milk Marketing Orders to 3 million pounds per month to protect other pool producer members from unfair competition, but do not support its elimination;

1.28.    USDA to immediately promulgate regulations on the pricing of domestically produced MPCs;

1.29.    Only pasteurized fluid milk being sold or distributed for human consumption;

1.30.    A reform of transportation credit regulations to eliminate producers in a deficit area bearing costs of transporting milk into the area; and

1.31.    Revisions to the Federal Milk Marketing Order System to increase touch-base days required by milk handlers, producers and sellers outside an order.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      A mandatory quota system, but are willing to consider a flexible supply management system;

2.2.      Creation of a mandatory fund financed by a checkoff on dairy farmers to guarantee milk checks;

2.3.      A "no" vote on a referendum changing the order, causing elimination of the entire federal order;

2.4.      The FDA changing the definition of milk; and

2.5.      Any regulations or legislation that will ban or limit flavored milk in schools.

239 / National Farm Policy

1.             Agriculture is strategically important to the survival of the United States. Our nation's economy, energy, environment and national security are dependent upon the viability of the agricultural industry. Agriculture must be treated as a strategic resource by our nation and reflected as such in local, state and national government policies. 

2.         We support a consistent, long-term market-oriented farm policy that will:

2.1.      Rely less on government and increasingly more on the market as well as providing more options for insurance and revenue assurance products that are more equitable for all commodities in all production regions of the country against adverse market fluctuations and weather-related hazards;

2.2.      Allow farmers to take maximum advantage of market opportunities at home and abroad without government interference;

2.3.      Encourage production decisions based on market demand;

2.4.      Develop risk management tools to deal with the inherent fluctuations in revenue and income associated with farming;

2.5.      Provide strong and effective safety net/risk management programs that do not guarantee a profit, but instead protects producers from catastrophic occurrences while minimizing the potential for farm programs affecting production decisions;

2.6.      Is compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements; and

2.7.      Reduce complexity while allowing producers increased flexibility to plant in response to market demand.

3.         We oppose: 

3.1.1.   New mandatory government supply management programs and acreage reduction programs, excluding the Conservation Reserve Program and conservation easements, for marketing loan commodities under the current farm program;

3.1.2.   A farmer-owned reserve or any federally controlled grain reserve with the exception of the existing, capped emergency commodity reserve;

3.1.3.   Income means testing. However, if such programs are implemented, they must be based on net income rather than gross income; 

3.1.4.   Payment limitations; and 

3.1.5.   Targeting of benefits being applied to farm program payment eligibility.

4.         U.S. policies affecting agriculture should be designed to:

4.1.      Ensure that U.S. consumers have access to a stable, ample, safe and nutritious food supply; 

4.2.      Minimize domestic and world hunger and nutrition deficiencies;  

4.3.      Create and sustain a long-term, competitive and profitable agricultural industry; 

4.4.      Reduce regulatory burdens on farmers and ranchers;

4.5.      Provide a tax structure that is fair and equitable to present and future generations of farmers;

4.6.      Continue to improve the environment through expanded incentives to encourage voluntary soil conservation, water and air quality programs, and advanced technological and biotechnological procedures that are based on sound science and are economically feasible;

4.7.      Enhance U.S. agriculture's access and competitiveness in the world market;

4.8.      Improve the quality of rural life and increase rural economic development;

4.9.      Compensate farmers for their positive impact on habitat, wildlife and the environment;

4.10.    Recognize the regional and commodity based differences that exist in U.S. production agriculture and provide programs that meet these needs, while recognizing the need to be internationally competitive; and

4.11.    Be implemented in a way that minimizes the negative effects on non-program crops and livestock production and ensure that accepted conservation practices such as cover crops do not impact compliance or payment eligibility. Statements of support for individual commodity programs and provisions shall adhere to these general principles of farm programs, regulatory, international trade, and tax provisions.

5.         Improving net farm income, enhancing the economic opportunity for farmers, preserving property rights and conserving the environment are our most important goals.

6.         We should undertake a comprehensive effort to assure U.S. producer competitiveness. Competitiveness issues should include biotech seed cost, agricultural research, U.S. transportation infrastructure, U.S. farm bill structure and funding, exchange rates and other factors relevant to agricultural global competitiveness.

7.          2018 Farm Bill Principles: 

7.1.      We support the following principles to guide development of programs in the next farm bill:

7.1.1.   Protecting current Farm Bill program spending;

7.1.2.   Maintaining a unified farm bill which includes nutrition programs and farm programs together;

7.1.3.   Any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949; and

7.1.4.   Risk management tools which include both federal crop insurance and commodity programs as top funding priorities.

7.2.       Other Principles: 

7.2.1.    Commodity Programs 

7.2.1.1.            We support:

7.2.1.1.1.         Continuation of a counter-cyclical program like the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and a revenue program like the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program. If ARC-County is continued, we support changes to make the program more effective and fairer to all farmers;

7.2.1.1.2.         If existing programs continue, the opportunity for farmers to re-elect and/or re-enroll;

7.2.1.1.3.         Basing Title 1 payments on historic, rather than planted, acres;

7.2.1.1.4.         Modifying “Actively Engaged” rules to more broadly define “family” by including non-lineal familial relationships such as first or second cousins.  The family farm exemption from the management restriction and recordkeeping requirements should remain in place; and

7.2.1.1.5.         Developing farm savings accounts as a risk management option for all producers.

7.2.2.    Risk Management Programs 

7.2.2.1.            The availability of crop yield and/or revenue insurance for all producers of all crops, aquaculture, livestock and poultry in the country.

7.2.3.    Dairy 

7.2.3.1.            Changes to the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) to provide producers more flexibility and better coverage; and

7.2.3.2.            Expansion of the current Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) dairy program.

7.2.4.    Conservation 

7.2.4.1.            Maintaining funding for federal conservation programs which maintain environmental benefits;

7.2.4.2.            Working lands conservation programs over retirement lands programs;

7.2.4.3.            Maintaining the current prioritization of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding being targeted to livestock producers;

7.2.4.4.            Calculation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) rental rates being re-examined annually at enrollment to ensure they mirror the rental rates of comparable land in the immediate area;

7.2.4.5.            Marginal and highly erodible land returning as the main focus of the CRP. The current limit of 24 million acres in the CRP should continue; and 

7.2.4.6.            Improvements to the State Technical Committees to make them more ag friendly by encouraging producers’ participation and input.

7.2.5.    Specialty Crops 

7.2.5.1.            Incorporating all types of domestic fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) into the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program providing an affordable option for increasing the variety available year-round for low income school children and more market opportunities for producers. Priority must be given to fresh and locally grown product when available not withstanding price; and

7.2.5.2.            Maintaining adequate funding for the specialty crop industry with emphasis on fundamental research, marketing and promotions, and pest management programs.

7.2.6.    Livestock 

7.2.6.1.            The exploration of new risk management tools for livestock producers; and

7.2.6.2.            Raising the $20 million annual cap for LGM insurance programs.

7.2.7.    Energy 

7.2.7.1.            Adequate funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

7.2.8.    Rural Development 

7.2.8.1.            Streamlining programs and a more transparent and efficient grant and loan approval process for rural development programs that includes the timely approval of applications and a more effective priority-setting process so that federal funds are expended on projects with the greatest economic potential; and

7.2.8.2.            Modifying the broadband programs to increase utilization of loans and grants in rural/underserved communities. We support adequate funding for improvements in USDA’s Community Connect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine, and Rural Gigabit Network pilot programs.

7.2.9.    Trade 

7.2.9.1.            Adequate funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Assistance Program (MAP).

7.2.10.  Credit 

7.2.10.1.          Increasing the amount of funding authorized for the Farm Service Agency loan guarantee programs while maintaining the current caps on individual amounts a farmer may be granted.

7.2.11.  Research 

7.2.11.1.          Funding for agricultural research and education.

7.2.12.  Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI) 

7.2.12.1.          Simplifying procedures, reducing paperwork requirements and streamlining interactions between the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency.

8.          General Issues 

8.1.      We support:

8.1.1.   Allowing farms with fewer than 10 base acres to be eligible to receive farm program payments;

8.1.2.   Requiring compliance by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) with all federal rule-making notification procedures;

8.1.3.   Farm Service Agency (FSA) evaluating the drought criteria used for drought compensation;

8.1.4.   Providing timely notification to producers of all program requirements;

8.1.5.   Providing payment notification information that match 1099 tax forms with descriptions that clearly reflect the source of the payment;

8.1.6.   Implementation in such a manner as to minimize the disruptions to landlord-tenant relationships. We support efforts to provide the state FSA Committee authority to determine eligibility requirements for farm program benefits;

8.1.7.   The elimination of any USDA requirement to report the specific cash rental amounts between a landlord and a tenant in an effort to protect a farmer's right to privacy. We do, however, support the requirement to report the type of lease agreement;

8.1.8.   Requiring FSA to constantly review and make public the formula used to set posted county prices (PCPs) to ensure they accurately reflect market conditions at the county level and that the differential between the cash price and PCP does not penalize producers or county elevators. The formula for calculating the terminal price, differential, and the PCP should be public information to allow producers the opportunity to maximize program benefits;

8.1.9.   Providing the secretary of agriculture discretionary authority to provide assistance to producers during times of economic disaster;

8.1.10. Allowing for verification of actual physical measurement if computer measuring or Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of farm acres results in different acreage measurements than has been the historical case. The cost incurred for such measurement should be borne by the party in error;

8.1.11. Allowing a single sign up that covers all programs for a crop year;

8.1.12. Programmatic and systemic efficiencies that eliminate the need for repeated farmer visits to county FSA offices;

8.1.13. Changing FSA regulations to not require farms that are owned and operated by the same individual, but not contiguous, be reconstituted into one farm;

8.1.14. Individuals directly involved in family farming operations not having payment eligibility adversely affected by farm business loans secured by cross collateralization, (same assets pledged for multiple producer loans);

8.1.15. The establishment of a reasonable time limitation on USDA's ability to alter or reverse an FSA compliance determination so that no producer enrolled in a farm program may be penalized in a subsequent crop year;

8.1.16. Allowing either a conservation compliance plan or a confined animal feeding operation permit to meet eligibility requirements for farms which require a conservation compliance plan for eligibility for certain USDA farm programs;

8.1.17. Funding sources to assist farmers in complying with livestock regulations;

8.1.18. The FSA facility loan program to include all commodity storage;

8.1.19. Allowing tenants with multiple landlords to treat each farm as a separate entity for compliance with the farm bill;

8.1.20. Action by a landlord not placing any tenant farm program payments in jeopardy. The tenant should be able to maintain eligibility for all farms;

8.1.21. Consolidation of the power of attorney form to enable the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the FSA and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to honor one power of attorney form;

8.1.22. Producers being able to use Federal Crop Insurance records for proving yield for base and yield updates;

8.1.23. Allowing grain bag storage systems as storage for USDA commodity loan purposes;

8.1.24. Efforts to harmonize methods of property descriptions between FSA, Crop Insurance, and the RMA to streamline information sharing between the two agencies and to develop a common method to establish crop yields for the various programs;

8.1.25. Defining "specialty crops" as any fruit, vegetable, nut or non-program crop grown for consumption and sales;

8.1.26. Funding to support the specialty crop industry through the following prioritized funding options:

8.1.26.1.          Per state competitive grant program to enhance grower directed research and extension programs;

8.1.26.2.          Expanded crop insurance;

8.1.26.3.          Dedicated funding for specialty crop growers in working lands programs; and

8.1.26.4.          USDA commodity purchases;

8.1.27. The recognition of horticulture, Christmas trees, sod and equine as agriculture enterprises eligible for government assistance through disaster programs, crop insurance and conservation programs;

8.1.28. Removal of matching fund requirements for public grants and loans intended to help small farmers. In the interim, in-kind contributions like labor should be allowed to be applied to matching fund considerations;

8.1.29. Use of producer-generated GPS data be allowed to supplement FSA and crop insurance purposes;

8.1.30. Native pollinator conservation efforts in farm policy legislation; 

8.1.31. Cotton intercropped with cucurbit crops be counted toward base acres;

8.1.32. USDA requiring mandatory monthly reporting of rice stocks and rice production; 

8.1.33. Requiring the FSA Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Statement be signed and effective for the full length of each Farm Bill period. Each individual entity should be responsible for reporting changes to conditions of approved status. AGI should be subject to random verification; 

8.1.34. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) be combined with the FMNP Senior program that is already part of the Farm Bill;

8.1.35. Including cottonseed as an “other oilseed” to make it eligible for government price supports. If cottonseed is not designated as an “other oilseed,” we support annual appropriations for a ginning assistance program;

8.1.36. Modifying or eliminating the Stacked Income Protection Program (STAX) if cottonseed is designated as an “other oilseed”;

8.1.37. Voluntary base acreage and yield updating in the next Farm Bill;

8.1.38. The use of  commodity certificates for repaying  loans for all program commodities;

8.1.39. A 90-day lock-in period for marketing loan gains for all commodities;

8.1.40. Maintaining the ARC-Individual program;

8.1.41. Collaborating with USDA on how the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds can be better spread among numerous entities and an appeals process for grants that have been awarded; 

8.1.42. The current use of SCBGP funds for market promotion and research and not for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA congressional mandate must be funded through the Food and Drug Administration budget; and

8.1.43. The exemption of growers from the registration and reporting requirements associated with the System for Award Management.

8.2.      We oppose:

8.2.1.   Producers becoming ineligible for participation in any USDA program due to their participation in federal or state water projects;

8.2.2.   Compliance status of one farm affecting the ability to receive benefits on another farm;

8.2.3.   The extension of the CCC commodity loans beyond the current term;

8.2.4.   The system of anonymous reporting of operator violations to the FSA and NRCS;

8.2.5.   The use of conservation programs by entities unrelated to agriculture;

8.2.6.   Penalties for farm program violations being applied to the entire farm operation instead of the portion of the farm in question; and

8.2.7    The Data Universal Number System being a requirement for participation in farm, conservation and other USDA programs.

240 / Sustainable Agriculture

1.             Agriculture provides society numerous benefits including, but not limited to food security, a safe and healthy food supply, environmental benefits and community stability. It is important to remember that agriculture needs the flexibility to alter cropping patterns and practices to meet the demands of operating in an open marketplace where our competition comes from farmers worldwide. When considering sustainable agriculture, there is only one constant and that is agriculture is only sustainable when it is profitable.

2.         Sustainable agriculture should recognize the benefits of accepted management practices that American agriculture currently employs, such as Integrated Pest Management. Sustainable agriculture should be flexible enough to fit America's diverse climates, cropping patterns, land use standards, and regulatory requirements. Regulations should not limit agricultural practices without strong scientific and economic justification. Sustainable agriculture should rely on measurable results and focus on adaptive management for continual improvements rather than a rigid set of practices.

3.         We support scientific research and education that encourages all participants in the agricultural industry to produce, process and distribute safe food, feed, fiber and fuel in a manner that is economically viable and enhances the quality of life for present and future generations.

4.         We support methods of farming that result in:

4.1.      A profit for the farm operator;

4.2.      A producer striving to show continuous improvement in his/her environmental performance; and

4.3.      An adequate supply of high quality safe food, feed, fiber and fuel.

5.         We are keenly aware that the means to accomplish these ends may vary from farm operation to farm operation and that no single method of farming will work with every operator.

6.         We support:

6.1.      Research aimed at reducing overall inputs needed to sustain a profitable farming operation; and

6.2.      Efforts to provide information to farmers on proven means of improving the efficiency of inputs.

7.         We oppose:

7.1.      Any attempt to mandate low input methods of farming; and

7.2.      Requiring low input methods as a condition of participation in government farm programs.

241 / Wetlands Reserve Program

1.             We support the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

2.         WRP should include a buyout clause that would allow producers to remove these areas from the program.

3.         Authority for the federal government to purchase permanent easements under the program should be terminated.

4.         Prior to a landowner putting part or all of a farm in a government wetland program, all adjoining landowners should be made aware of this, especially where surrounding landowners' water flow or natural drainage is affected.

5.         The program should not be used to take entire farms out of production.

6.         We support using created WRP acreage for farmland wetland mitigation.

TRADE / TREATIES 

250 / Foreign Aid

1.             We believe the United States should use its agricultural capacity to enhance food security and economic development, thereby enhancing not only the reputation of the U.S. as a reliable supplier of agricultural products and expertise, but also as a leader in fostering economic development globally.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Securing a commitment from the federal government to provide leadership in enhancing global food security and economic development;

2.2.      Increasing federal commitment to food and agricultural assistance programs;

2.3.      Foreign aid in the form of agricultural products and value-added agricultural products rather than cash, whenever feasible;

2.4.      Encouraging recipient nations to use or purchase U.S. agricultural goods and services; and

2.5.      Giving emergency food relief needs the highest priority in foreign aid programs.

3.         We oppose foreign aid being provided to recipient countries to stimulate production or distribution of agricultural commodities for export that could create economic hardship for U.S producers.

4.         The federal government should be urged to apply countermeasures against countries which discriminate and/or restrict agricultural products from the United States, particularly those countries that receive U.S. foreign and military aid.

5.         Proposals to conduct American foreign aid programs through United Nations agencies should be rejected.

6.         Aid should be given to encourage private enterprise economic systems.  

7.         Food For Peace Program (P.L. 480) 

7.1.      We support:

7.1.1.   P.L. 480 as an important program that should be continued and assessed in the context of a broader strategy for expanding U.S. food aid with the following priorities:

7.1.1.1.            Concentrating on the least developed countries;

7.1.1.2.            Focusing on small landholders;

7.1.1.3.            Utilizing local staples;

7.1.1.4.            Serving local markets; and

7.1.1.5.            Improving recipient nation regulatory systems to increase food safety and facilitate local and regional trade;

7.1.2.   Federal legislation eliminating cargo preference provisions on P.L. 480 and other aid programs;

7.1.3.   Continuation of P.L. 480 and believe the primary emphasis should be given to humanitarian needs;

7.1.4.   The expansion of P.L. 480, particularly in areas of the world that are suffering from immediate drought or plagued with hunger problems;

7.1.5.   Efforts to shift P.L. 480 recipient countries to commercial sales by shortening credit terms and increasing interest rates as certain recipient countries become more affluent; and

7.1.6.   Expansion of P.L. 480 within World Trade Organization (WTO) consistent parameters and encouragement for Congress to require USDA and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to utilize all appropriated funds. 

7.2.      Because P.L. 480 has many objectives, including foreign policy, national security, humanitarian aid, and market development, we believe financing of this program should be shared by all agencies, in addition to USDA, whose interests are benefited.

7.3.      We encourage USDA to only use quality/approved shippers for P.L. 480 purchases and that all shipments are inspected and documented prior to shipment to ensure quality.

7.4.      Concessional sales or grants under this program should be made in such a manner as to encourage economic development within the recipient nations.

7.5.      The limiting factor in food aid programs is money, rather than an actual shortage of commodities in world markets. In order to meet emergency needs throughout the world, we favor the establishment of an international fund to be used for the purchase of agricultural commodities to meet humanitarian needs in disasters and other emergencies. Participating nations could be permitted to make part of their contributions in the form of commitments or commodities rather than actual currency deposits. Even the poorest of nations could contribute according to situation and ability. All nations should support such a fund and should share in its control in proportion to their contributions.

251 / Global Environmental Agreements and Treaties

1.             We strongly oppose any U.S. participation in any agreement that would:

1.1.      Impose new regulation on American farmers through the United Nations;

1.2.      Increase costs for fuel, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals; and

1.3.      Put U.S. farmers at a disadvantage in international trade because of exemptions for developing nations. 

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Ratification of any international agreements binding the United States to control greenhouse gases;

2.2.      U.S. Senate approval of any environmental treaty without the use of sound science ensuring our nation is not placed at a disadvantage or our sovereignty threatened;

2.3.      The creation of any global environmental agency with extensive powers to regulate the world's environment;

2.4.      Regulation of carbon dioxide under the Montreal Protocol; and

2.5.      The United Nations being given any authority or regulatory power over the natural resources of the United States.

3.         Treaties not ratified by the United States may impact the ability of U.S. agriculture to trade worldwide. We recommend that all action by the executive branch focus on protecting the rights of U.S. producers and our ability to trade. U.S. involvement should not be viewed as an endorsement of a treaty's purpose or de facto ratification.

252 / International Trade

1.             We are strong advocates of fair and open world trade.

2.         Aggressive efforts must be made at all levels to open new markets and expand existing markets for U.S. agricultural products.

3.         Agricultural exports will be increased by:

3.1.      Continuing to seek new markets for commodities and value-added products to enhance farm income and improve the farm economy;

3.2.      Continuing to export regardless of domestic supply;

3.3.      Reducing trade restrictions;

3.4.      Immediate, unrestricted trade and distribution of U.S. approved biotech products;

3.5.      Aggressive market development;

3.6.      The use of export licenses only for information purposes and not to limit the amount, timing or destination of exports;

3.7.      Providing USDA and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with the necessary resources to monitor and aggressively enforce trade agreements and reduce trade barriers; and

3.8.      Decreasing the regulation on the movement of U.S. agricultural commodities to Canadian ports for overseas shipment.

4.         We support: 

4.1.      An incremental or phased-in approach to open livestock and meat markets, this approach must be accompanied with strict steps for trading partners to reach World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards and a time certain for full implementation of those standards;

4.2.      Policies and actions that enhance and maintain a competitive domestic processing (value-added) industry and infrastructure for U.S. produced agricultural commodities;

4.3.      Agricultural imports from non-World Trade Organization (WTO) countries being subject to the same regulations and restrictions as members of the WTO; and

4.4.      Agricultural products that also have an industrial use or application remaining classified as an agricultural commodity for purposes of trade; Legislated import quotas are unacceptable solutions to import problems; and

4.5.      Funding for trade programs to ensure that U.S. imports meet the strict production criteria outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in order to ensure that any agricultural imported commodity or products meet the same or comparable requirements that U.S. agricultural producers must meet. This new funding should come from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sources as opposed to the farm bill.

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      International commodity agreements to allocate markets, control supply and restrict world prices to a narrow price range;

5.2.      Attempts to disguise protectionist policies as an endorsement of the multi-functional characteristics of agriculture;

5.3.      Any unilateral action by the United States to eliminate import restrictions and subsidies without equivalent commitments by other countries;

5.4.      The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for agricultural products, whereby developing countries are granted duty-free entry on certain products, since this runs counter to the Normal Trade Relations (NTR) principles; 

5.5.      Protectionist restrictions on imported and exported farm inputs such as machinery, parts, petroleum and fertilizer; and

5.6.      Tariffs on fertilizer imports, including the antidumping duties placed on solid urea imports.

6.         Trade Agreements 

6.1.      Our government should insist on strict adherence to bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to which the United States is a party to prevent unfair practices by competing nations and to assure unrestricted access to domestic and world markets. All trade agreements should be continuously monitored and enforced to ensure they result in fair trade.

6.2.      We support the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the President of the United States. 

7.         Trade Negotiations 

7.1.      We believe that agriculture's best opportunity to address critical trade issues is in the multilateral arena.

7.2.      We encourage the U.S. agricultural industry be a high priority in world trade negotiations, so that the nation's food security will be preserved for future generations. We encourage all countries to adhere strictly to WTO rules.

7.3.      We will not take a final position on any potential trade agreement until the negotiations are completed.

7.4.      The AFBF Board will analyze, review, debate and vote on each and every free trade agreement and partnership (either bilateral or regional). We will only support an agreement or partnership if it provides a positive outcome for U.S. agriculture. The effects on all agricultural commodities will be considered.

7.5.      We urge the administration to support the following trade negotiations objectives:

7.6.       WTO Negotiations: 

7.6.1.   Inclusion of a peace clause;

7.6.2.   Include all ultra-filtered dry dairy products plus casein under WTO quotas for dairy;

7.6.3.   Shortening of the WTO dispute settlement process;

7.6.4.   Opposition singling out any one commodity for separate negotiations by the WTO;

7.6.5.   Encourage USTR to work with WTO member countries to establish objective criteria to determine which countries qualify as developing countries in the WTO discussions rather than the current self-election process;

7.6.6.   Provide special provisions for developing economies if self-determination is eliminated and an objective criteria for determining developing country status is adopted;

7.6.7.   The use value tax treatment of agricultural land be classified in any WTO agreement as a permitted, non-disciplined producer support element; and

7.6.8.   Any modifications must be compatible with current farm programs as outlined in the farm bill.

7.7.      WTO and all other negotiations:

7.7.1.   Elimination of export subsidies;

7.7.2.   Elimination of non-tariff trade barriers;

7.7.3.   Discipline and transparency of state trading enterprises;

7.7.4.   Ensure market access for biotechnology products;

7.7.5.   Include all agricultural products and policies in the negotiations;

7.7.6.   Address issues concerning import sensitive products;

7.7.7.   Elimination of export sanctions and all export restraints;

7.7.8.   Adopt a formula approach for the negotiations;

7.7.9.   A single undertaking in trade negotiations;

7.7.10. Opposition to the Precautionary Principle;

7.7.11. Opposition to the use of geographic indicators;

7.7.12. Opposition to special unilateral tariffs for developing nations;

7.7.13. USDA as the federal agency for food inspection and food safety, having the primary role in the U.S. trade negotiations;

7.7.14. Trade agreements should not be tied to social reforms, labor or environmental standards of other countries; and

7.7.15. Trade agreements negotiated with other countries to encourage equal implementation of patent rights relating to biotechnological agricultural seed products.

7.8.      We support consideration of the adverse effects of imported agricultural products on domestic prices before increasing individual agricultural import quotas or reducing the tariffs.

7.9.      We support provisions in trade agreements that prevent economic damage to import sensitive commodities and circumvention of domestic trade policy and tariff schedules while advancing U.S. agricultural trade and food security interests.

7.10.    Future negotiations shall take into account advantages realized by foreign producers through subsidy or other means with respect to import sensitive products that put U.S. producers at a disadvantage. Any formal negotiation of any nation's accession in the WTO should include a positive outcome for American agriculture.

7.11.    We oppose tariff reductions if it results in creating an oligopoly. 

8.         Remedy/Enforcement 

8.1.      The federal government must enforce current trade agreements more aggressively to protect U.S. farmers from the non-compliant trade practices of other countries.

8.2.      The U.S. government needs to enhance its procedures and responsibilities to protect U.S. interests in North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), WTO and other free trade agreements to increase monitoring and reporting on unfair practices of nations with respect to: 

8.2.1.   Importing and/or dumping agricultural products;

8.2.2.   Subsidizing transportation and commodities;

8.2.3.   Influence of exchange rates;

8.2.4.   Labeling country of origin and quality of inspection;

8.2.5.   Excessive market fluctuation and/or influence;

8.2.6.   Sanctions and embargoes that affect U.S. agriculture;

8.2.7.   State Trading Enterprises;

8.2.8.   Export subsidies;

8.2.9.   Biotechnology; and

8.2.10. Foreign government ownership of commodity processing facilities that export to the United States.

8.3.      We should take an active role in supporting the interests of individual commodity producers, when consistent with our policy, for import relief when domestic economic conditions warrant such relief. We favor immediate import remedies consistent with our international obligations to deal with potentially disastrous disruptions during a short marketing period for perishable U.S. commodities caused by a sudden influx of imported competitive products. 

8.4.      We support:

8.4.1.   The passage of legislation and administrative action to address the importation and reporting of sugar-containing products created for the purpose of circumventing the U.S. sugar import quota;

8.4.2.   Legislation to give producers of raw agricultural commodities legal standing in petitioning for relief from imports of processed agricultural products;

8.4.3.   A "Special 301" procedure for agriculture;

8.4.4.   Implementation of a timely trade dispute resolution process should take into account the perishability, seasonality and regional production of horticultural products;

8.4.5.   Strict enforcement of anti-dumping provisions of the Omnibus Trade Act of 1988;

8.4.6.   USDA and the USTR working with industry representatives to provide a timely and aggressive response to any infringement of trade agreements;

8.4.7.   Elimination of the privilege of shippers of new products into the U.S. to post bonds in lieu of cash deposits when paying antidumping and/or countervailing duties;

8.4.8.   The U.S. government strongly enforcing U.S. trademarks and patents, particularly when U.S. government entities consider sharing intellectual property with foreign trading partners;

8.4.9.   Better reciprocal agreements between the United States and Canada to protect U.S. producers in collecting monies due in private sales transactions; and

8.4.10. All reporting, monitoring and inspection requirements being fully adhered to by importing countries and strictly enforced by the appropriate agencies.

8.5.      Legislation should be enacted which provides financial assistance for costs of research and legal services incurred by farmers or their representatives who show prima facie evidence of injury and/or successfully file trade relief petitions seeking relief from unfair trade practices.

8.6.      Countervailing duties should be imposed on imports which are subsidized and the U.S. government should not waive such duties until it finds the production or export of the commodity exported to the United States has ceased to be subsidized. We support legislation that would allow countervailing duties to be imposed quickly when such subsidies are proven. Until trade distorting subsidies are reduced or eliminated, we support import tariffs on subsidized agriculture product imports into the U.S. in order that U.S. agriculture products may remain competitive in the marketplace.

8.7.      We oppose the use of technical customs classification rulings to modify the correct and legal duty on imported products.

8.8.      We call for a return to adherence to the Normal Trade Relations (NTR) principle as a step in making WTO a viable organization for handling trade problems. The United States should approve NTR tariff treatment for any country that agrees to reciprocate and conduct itself in accordance with WTO rules. China should adhere to the rules set by the WTO and be closely monitored to ensure agricultural trade commitments are upheld.

8.9.      Since the passage of the NAFTA, we support strict enforcement of import restrictions and enhanced export support from our government, and we support the concepts of equivalent quality inspections for domestic and foreign products. We support measures that would better protect producers who ship vegetables to Canada, especially in regard to grades and standards. NAFTA trade relief should be negotiated to protect regional producers of fresh fruits, vegetables and nursery products.

8.10.    We urge a reciprocal agreement be executed between the U.S. and Canada for the transportation of agricultural and forestry commodities and transshipment to noncontiguous states.

8.11.    Recognizing the importance of the timber industry to our national economy, we support full implementation, compliance and monitoring of the 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.

9.         Embargoes/Sanctions 

9.1.      The threat of unilateral sanctions or other restrictions adversely affects markets and is an inappropriate tool in the implementation of foreign policy.

9.2.      If a unilateral sanction is declared because of an armed conflict, it should apply to all trade.

9.3.      The U.S. government should lift all trade sanctions on all countries that may purchase U.S. farm commodities. Requirements for specific licenses and the prohibition on third country financing for agricultural commodities should be eliminated.

9.4.      An embargo should not be declared without the consent of Congress.

9.5.      Unless an embargo is approved by Congress, agricultural export contracts with delivery scheduled within nine months of the date of sale should be honored.

9.6.      Countervailing duties should be imposed on imports that are subsidized with trade-distorting subsidies. The U.S. government should not waive such duties until it finds the production or export of the commodity exported to the United States has ceased to be subsidized in a trade-distorting manner. We support legislation that would allow countervailing duties to be imposed quickly when such trade-distorting subsidies are proven. Until trade-distorting subsidies are reduced or eliminated, we support import tariffs on such subsidized agricultural product imports into the U.S. in order that U.S. agriculture products may remain competitive in the marketplace.

9.7.      Producers should be compensated by direct payments for any losses resulting from unilateral sanctions.

9.8.      We should not limit the use of export credits and programs in response to domestic supply.

9.9.      We will aggressively seek immediate normalization of trade and travel relations with Cuba.

10.       Export Programs 

10.1.    We support:

10.1.1. Commercial trade for cash and normal credit terms without subsidies;

10.1.2. The development of export programs for agricultural products by private entities;

10.1.3. A joint venture by all of agriculture to develop WTO- consistent export promotion programs;

10.1.4. The expansion and development of hay and forage export markets;

10.1.5. Individual shipment violations not leading to the disruption of trade; and

10.1.6. The use of the most current proven technologies for animal health protocols for agricultural exports (e.g., in-vitro frozen embryos, blue tongue, etc.).

11.       Sanitary, Phytosanitary and Food Safety Standards/Imports 

11.1.    We support:

11.1.1. The prohibition of imported agricultural products that are produced using chemicals and antibiotics banned or not approved for U.S. commercial use. We urge more inspection and stronger enforcement of these rules;

11.1.2. Harmonization of domestic food safety and quality standards with our international trading partners based on the guidelines set by the WTO and Codex Alimentarius;

11.1.3. We recommend quality standards and increased testing of imports for pesticides; 

11.1.4. Adequate funding to inspect imports; and

11.1.5. Taking advantage of new security equipment at ports of entry to detect illegal plant and animal products or diseases.

11.2.    To prevent the spread of pests and disease, we favor strict enforcement at all ports of entry against smuggling of food, birds, plants and animals into this country.

11.3.    We support the establishment and enforcement of firm protocols to prevent the introduction of exotic and invasive pests and disease.

11.4.    We encourage a thorough inspection system by USDA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on all products moved across the Mexican or Canadian border or other ports of entry into the U.S. The federal government should provide adequate and efficient services at all U.S. border crossings to protect the general health and welfare. 

11.5.    We recommend that all imported agricultural products at point of entry be subject to the same or equivalent inspection, sanitary, quality, labeling and residue standards as domestic products from the United States and Puerto Rico. Any products that do not meet these standards, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards and the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) standards should be refused entry. The point of entry inspections should be in addition to "processing plant," "field" or other required U.S. government inspections in countries of product origin and should be paid for through user fees paid by the importer. We should increase efforts to ensure that imported foods meet standards equivalent to those set for domestic products. Rejected products should be marked in such a manner that they will not be accepted at other ports. We support increased fees for inspection of imported agricultural products.

11.6.    We recommend that authority for the inspection of imported agricultural products be transferred from DHS to USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 

11.7.    We urge DHS and APHIS, as they develop regulations relative to regionalization as required by WTO, to work cooperatively with industry in developing a program that ensures U.S. producers and consumers they will not be put at undue risk from the introduction of foreign plant and animal diseases. 

11.8.    We support APHIS in the establishment of minimal risk regions with respect to agricultural import restrictions based on a risk assessment of the potential for introduction of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot-and-mouth disease  or other foreign animal diseases and the interventions that are in place in the designated region. APHIS should disclose the determination criteria and protocols with affected industries when a region is determined to be classified as minimal risk. Minimum requirements for such designation should include:

11.8.1. The existence of a national animal identification and tracking program;

11.8.2. Adequate active testing and monitoring programs for all OIE Class A animal diseases; 

11.8.3. Food inspection programs that are deemed equivalent to U.S. programs; and

11.8.4. Product labeling that will enable tracking of the product.

11.9.    We support the use of sound science and OIE guidance in classifying countries as a minimal risk region for BSE. Farm Bureau reaffirms its support for using sound science as a basis for reopening our markets to ensure continued consumer confidence.  

11.10.  We support a ban on the utilization and importation of animals, animal products, animal protein and animal byproduct protein (e.g., meat, bone, blood meal) for any use in the United States from sources known to have BSE, foot-and-mouth disease or other infectious and contagious foreign animal diseases that have not been designated as a minimal risk region. We urge USDA to closely monitor and strictly enforce animal health regulations (through frequent inspections, information collection, etc.) to protect U.S. consumers and the livestock industry.

11.11.  We recommend an audit of the meat inspection system to ensure regulations are being followed. Rejected lots of meat should be tracked and denatured.

11.12.  We oppose importation of livestock from any country without adequate testing, quarantine and tracking due to the possible spread of disease.

11.13.  We recommend the use of the USDA quality grade stamp to only meat derived from animals born, raised, and processed in the U.S.

11.14.  We recommend the allocation of 30 percent of the tariffs collected on imported seafood be used for promotion and research of aquaculture products.

253 / United Nations

1.             The United States should evaluate its participation in the United Nations (UN). We urge a congressional investigation into the need for and effectiveness of our participation in the UN programs. The investigation should serve as the basis for determining our future participation in these programs.

2.         Any nation not contributing its equitable share to the support of the UN should not be permitted to vote.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Reduction in all UN programs establishing international environmental standards, land-use regulations, interpreting environmental laws, rules or regulations of the United States, and interfering in the land-use or development of any U.S. business; 

3.2.      Congressional efforts to reduce the U.S. share of the UN budget;

3.3.      The UN and its affiliated organizations should be used as tools to encourage the nations of the world to cooperate in the solution of international problems. UN actions should not obligate the United States to participate in specific programs without ratification by the Senate; and

3.4.      U.S. production agriculture involvement in the UN discussion on sustainable agriculture.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      One world government, and any treaty or pact that encourages one world government;

4.2.      U.S. troops being under UN command;

4.3.      The stationing, except for training, of foreign UN troops and equipment in this country;

4.4.      Any plan to create a UN park;

4.5.      UN ownership of any public lands within the United States; 

4.6.      Implementing an international tax authority that is being proposed by the UN; and

4.7.      The UN’s Agenda 21 plan for sustainable development.