WASHINGTON – Nearly 200 farmers from across Pennsylvania were in Washington March 3 and 4 meeting with their congressional representatives during Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2005 National Legislative Conference.
Farmers will be talking about issues ranging from the elimination of the death tax to the need for a national energy bill to the importance of preserving Farm Bill programs that the president proposes to cut.
“There are many key issues being discussed in our nation’s capital that have a direct impact on the profitability and the future of farm families in Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer. “By going to Washington and discussing our concerns with our elected officials, we highlight the importance of the issues and the role lawmakers play in representing agriculture.”
Santorum lauded. Republican Senator Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, received the “Friend of the Farm Bureau” award from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau during the lobbying trip.
The Friend of the Farm Bureau award is given to members of Congress nominated by their respective state Farm Bureau
Hot topics. Some important farm and rural issues to be discussed by bureau legislative leaders include:
A comprehensive energy bill: Farm Bureau members are urging Congress to pass comprehensive energy legislation that includes a renewable fuel standard to reduce dependency on foreign oil.
American farmers could play a major role in helping to meet the nation’s energy needs through the expanded use of ethanol, bio-diesel and wind power.
Permanent elimination of death taxes. Estate taxes (or death taxes) place a serious financial burden on farm families. Surviving sons and daughters often have to sell off farm equipment and farmland in order to pay death taxes.
The sale of land and equipment reduces the overall value of the farm to the survivors.
Farm labor reform. Farmers seek legislation that would start a temporary worker program that addresses agriculture’s needs for an adequate and reliable legal workforce.
The legislation should ensure that agriculture does not face more stringent requirements compared with other sectors, while ensuring workers get a fair wage.
Other key issues farmers are discussing with lawmakers include agriculture research funding, association health plans, air quality compliance and dairy industry concerns.
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