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Answering Tough Ag Questions

Through social media, America’s farmers and ranchers explain why they do certain things when raising animals for food. This communication is not just one way. Facebook posts from the farm, tweets from the tractor seat and blogs from the “back 40” allow members of the non-farming public to ask questions on everything from how today’s food is grown to how it is processed and eventually brought to market.

Although a growing number of farmers use social media to interact with consumers, trepidation about answering tough ag-related questions causes some to shy away from using this valuable communications tool. But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to a couple of social media experts who teamed up recently to share time-tested tips with Farm Bureau members.

“Be authentic in telling your story,” says Lyndsey Murphy, digital media specialist at the American Farm Bureau. “Speak for you and your farm, not the whole of agriculture,” she advises. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, it’s perfectly OK to say you don’t know but will find the answer.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Sets National Standards for Biotech Labeling

Within the food industry, there is no issue as challenging, divisive and confusing as food labeling. The issue has been further clouded by recent attempts to pass state and local laws calling for labels on foods with ingredients developed through biotechnology, regardless of the actual impact on the quality, safety or nature of the food product.

Farm Bureau supports the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which reinforces both the standards and authority of the Food and Drug Administration in regulating GMO labeling. The bill (H.R. 1599) would set forth national standards relating to labeling foods derived from biotechnology, and would preempt any state or local labeling requirements. H.R.1599 also charges the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service with creating protocol and labeling standards, similar to those used for organics, to identify and market products as non-GMO.

The FDA’s food labeling guidelines are designed to provide information to help consumers make healthy and safe food choices. This proposed bill would reinforce the existing requirements applied to labeling food products derived from plants developed through biotechnology. FDA generally regulates the final product, not the process, of plant genetic modification. Contrary to activist claims, FDA already requires labels for any food product that has been materially changed, regardless of whether it comes from conventional or biotech plant breeding. For example, foods must be labeled if ingredients contain proteins from the most common allergens, or when there are genetic differences in nutritional content.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., – “State-led mandatory food labeling initiatives mislead consumers about the safety of GM foods, even though there is no credible evidence linking a food-safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods. These state labeling initiatives mask the benefits of biotechnology in food production and can lead to decreased food supplies. Creating a national labeling standard will give consumers the information they need while avoiding the unnecessary confusion and added cost of a patchwork of state laws.

Farm Bureau Supports New Twin Falls Visitor Center

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and the Twin Falls County Farm Bureau recently donated $20,000 to be used in an agricultural history display at a new visitor center.

The new center will be located on the canyon rim overlooking the Snake River in Twin Falls County. Construction is currently wrapping up on the modern, functional facility and when opened to the public it will serve as a regional welcome center, offering information and inspiration to thousands of visitors to Southern Idaho.

A grand opening is slated for April 30.

Feeding America Benefits From Farm Bureau Donations

WASHINGTON, D.C., – The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised more than $1.2 million and donated a record of nearly 42 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program in partnership with Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 46 million meals.

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Passage of H.R. 636

WASHINGTON, D.C., – “America’s farmers and ranchers need reliable tax tools to help them stay competitive in spite of changing weather and fluctuating markets. With the passage of H.R. 636, America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015, Congress is one step closer to securing Section 179 small business expensing permanently.

AFBF Appeals, Secures Stay in EPA Privacy Suit

WASHINGTON, D.C., – A federal district court in Minnesota ordered EPA late Friday not to release farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information while AFBF and co-plaintiff National Pork Producers Council appeal the court’s decision dismissing their lawsuit. By dismissing the suit, the court ruled that farmers are not harmed when the government compiles and releases a storehouse of personal information, so long as individual bits of that information are somehow publicly accessible, such as through an Internet search or on a Facebook page.

Raising the Stakes, Raising Awareness: Members Step Up Support for AFBFA

WASHINGTON, D.C., – The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture launched its new giving campaign, “Seed the future, grow together,” at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in San Diego in January. Donors contributed more than $30,000 to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education.

“For those with a stake in agriculture’s future, there is no more important investment,” said Julie Tesch, executive director of the Foundation.

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