BOISE, Idaho — National Grange President Ed Luttrell outlined “four fundamental truths” he says elected officials need to follow to move America away from the “fiscal cliff.”
He issued his challenge during his annual address Nov. 13 at the National Grange convention in Boise, Idaho.
Luttrell’s four truths for policymakers include: living within our means, which is necessary for the nation to prosper; free markets work best to find solutions and provide the best services; Congress should do away with publicly funded pension programs for elected officials, programs that encourage people to become career politicians; and economic markets hate instability, especially created by continuously fluctuating taxes and regulation.
The Grange leader said Congress needs to get to work immediately to initiate measures of fiscal responsibility.
“It is long past time for our elected officials to wake up, to realize their fiscal responsibility to every American, especially our children and grandchildren,” Luttrell said.
He said the nation will “begin its journey back to fiscal health and prosperity” when politicians make decisions based on these truths.
Eye on regulation
Fiscal health also requires scrutiny of expanded regulation, Luttrell said, noting the “increase of economically significant regulations, on top of massive regulations already in place, is larger than the GDP of many countries.”
Luttrell said the Grange supports “necessary regulations needed to provide reasonable safety and peace of mind to American workers, families and inventors. However, we opposed any regulation that seeks a zero tolerance of risk.”
Luttrell also said the farm bill needs to be passed during the lame duck session.
“Agriculture should never become a partisan football, as every American depends on agriculture.”
Luttrell expressed the need for a farm bill, as well as continued safety testing for genetically modified crops but no need to label GMO products.
Luttrell said much of the tension between consumers and producers, including the need for both large and small producers and the concept and practice of genetically modified foods, is the lack of education related to agriculture.
“In order to spread the truth of agriculture, the Grange continues to call for wide-scale basic agriculture education at the primary levels and in post-secondary education related to agriculture production, research and policy,” Luttrell said.
Luttrell said research is critical in regards to the safety and efficacy of genetically modified organisms, but labeling of such would be “misleading” and would falsely imply “differences where none exist.”
Luttrell said the Grange opposes reductions of Postal Service to rural America and in a related rural access issue, said the Grange continues to support the expansion of broadband into rural areas.
Because rural customers rely so heavily on mail delivery, Luttrell said it is imperative that Congress work to save the USPS by either eliminating the prepayment requirement for future employee retirement health benefits or by releasing USPS from Congressional oversight so they may make decisions based on market conditions.
Luttrell stressed the need for equitable access through rural broadband and noted that the Grange will work with legislators to ensure Universal Service Funds be used to bring that broadband to homes and businesses in rural America.