Five ag issues that are hot on the Hill

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U.S. Rep. Zach Space

WASHINGTON — On their trip to Washington D.C. March 9-11, the Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents discovered there are some key issues buzzing around the city.

Here are the top five farm-related conversations on Capitol Hill:

1. Obama administration’s proposal to phase out direct payments to farmers with sales of more than $500,000 (and will the farm bill be re-opened before 2012).

Sen. Sherrod Brown: “If we move it, it would be tied to Adjusted Gross Income.” But he doesn’t see the farm bill being reopened.

Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman, House agriculture committee: We have a “problem with this administration.” The proposal “really is kind of crazy. … The new motto is ‘big farms bad, big banks good’ … If you’re a big bank, you can get all the @#$%* money you want. … We did our work in the farm bill; we reduced our subsidies in the farm bill. Some people want us to go further.”

2. Will there be a comprehensive energy bill/climate change bill, and how will it affect agriculture?

Anne Steckel, American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist: “It’s very likely we will be doing another energy bill this year” and look for emphasis on cellulosic ethanol research and production. But look for the energy bill to be joined at the hip with climate change legislation. “Cap-and-trade and energy will probably be going hand-in-hand.” And Steckel’s co-worker Rick Krause warned: “There’s so many unintended consequences from this type of regulation.”

Rep. Zach Space: Global warming is real “and we need to deal with it” on the international level. “It’s (cap-and-trade) going to be done whether we like it or not.”

Rep. Jim Jordan: “Fight cap-and-trade; fight the people who want carbon trade. It’s terrible for Ohio and it’s terrible for our country.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown: Climate change legislation is important, but it can’t be done at one region’s expense. “We [Ohio] can’t bear the brunt.”

Rep. Collin Peterson: “It’s likely that something will be done. … If we don’t do it, if we let the other committee do it, I can guarantee you, you won’t like it. This train is coming down the tracks.”

Story Continues Below Photos of the Ohio Farm Bureau trip to D.C. (click on photo to read identification)

3. Humane Society of the United States targeting Ohio on the animal welfare front:

Brent Porteus, president, Ohio Farm Bureau: Wayne Pacelle (HSUS CEO) “is a very formidable foe” because he’s smooth, polite, politically correct and charismatic. If agriculture underestimates HSUS, “we’re really, really, really fooling ourselves. … This will be the biggest fight the ag community has ever taken on.”

Rep. John Boehner: “Do not underestimate the power of these organizations to come in and arbitrarily change the rules.”

Kelli Ludlum, American Farm Bureau lobbyist: “The future can be pretty bleak if we don’t do something about it now.”

4. The economic crisis:

Sen. George Voinovich: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. …We just gotta get people to start buying stuff. The more we hunker in, the worse it gets.”

Rep. Collin Peterson: “Agriculture is probably one of the bright spots, if you can call it that. … It’s going to be a little tighter, but it’s not going to be the end of the world.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., ranking member, House ag committee: “We shouldn’t be in a place where we can’t let a company fail. … This whole economy was a false economy. When we hit bottom, we’ll see an economy that’s a lot different than we did before.”

5. Ag education and public relations:

Rep. Bob Latta: “A lot of people need to get away from the Norman Rockwell view of agriculture. … You’ve got to get on top of the tallest building and shout about what you do.”

Dan Cowdrey, Highland Co. Farm Bureau president: “We kind of live in our own little silo. We need to get to others who don’t.”

Rep. Collin Peterson: “I’m not sure people want to hear our message. … We’re talking to each other and I don’t think it’s working at all.”

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About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University.You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

3 Comments

  1. Lori says:

    I have a comment to #3. HSUS is without a doubt a massive threat to agriculture and companion animals.

    HSUS, PETA and other animal LIBERATION groups have nothing to do with animal welfare. This is where they have gained so much support. They are dripping with propaganda. For all we know they film their own videos using their own sets. They certainly have the money to do so.

    General public and celeb’s happily hand over billions in donations thinking they are supporting “humane” animal practices and animal welfare. One doesn’t need to scratch the surface to see the killing machines they really are. Very few people who support liberation groups know what the REAL agenda is. One would think people would wake up before it is too late; but in the swath of ignorance and complacency it becomes too late when people do wake up.

    Through legislation animal liberation groups are threatening to take the upper hand by buying their way into and placing strategic people in government. All involved with animals must stand together, educate ourselves and steam roll back over the animal liberation agenda. The best way to do that is to educate and present alternatives that work but support agriculture and the owning of companion animals.

    There is a significant head start so time is of the essence.

  2. Jason says:

    I believe that the HSUS, and PETA are two of U.S. Agriculture’s biggest threats aswhile. It is up to the American Farm to tell the true story about Our Farms, and U.S. Agriculture. We can all start right in our home towns. If we don’t start telling it, those groups will. The story holds true, one bad apple will spoil the whole basket.

  3. If you are unfamiliar with the Humane Society of the United States:
    “Despite the words ‘humane society’ on its letterhead, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with your local animal shelter.” Read more: http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/136

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