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New Pipeline Infrastructure Key to Unloading Freight Rail Backlog, Helping America’s Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C., – Expanding America’s pipeline infrastructure would relieve the nation’s overburdened freight rail network and improve service for farmers nationwide, according to a new study from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The booming energy business in the Upper Midwest spiked rail congestion and freight costs for farmers in the region and cut their profits by $570 million during the 2014 harvest. The AFBF study found that the average North Dakota corn farmer may have received $10,000 less than the traditional market rate for the crop. Increasing U.S. pipeline capacity – particularly in the Bakken region – is a prime solution for adding freight system capacity overall and relieving rail congestion, according to AFBF.

American Farm Bureau, Agriculture and Industry Groups Ask Court to Ditch EPA’s Unlawful Water Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 2, 2015 – The American Farm Bureau Federation, Texas Farm Bureau, Matagorda County Farm Bureau, and 11 other agricultural and industry groups today asked a federal court to vacate the controversial new rule redefining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Texas, claims the new rule grants EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broad control over land use far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit also claims vagueness and over-breadth of the rule violate the U.S. Constitution. The groups also challenged EPA’s aggressive grassroots advocacy campaign during the comment period, which reflected a closed mind to concerns expressed by farmers and others.

EPA and the Corps first proposed the rule in March 2014, promising clarity and certainty to farmers, ranchers, builders and other affected businesses and landowners. “Instead we have a final rule that exceeds the agencies’ legal authority and fails to provide the clarity that was promised,” AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen said. “AFBF filed this lawsuit to do everything we can to protect the interests of farmers and ranchers, but litigation is not a quick or perfect fix. It is long, cumbersome and expensive, and it leaves farmers and others facing immediate harm and uncertainty under this rule.”

Congress Approves Trade Promotion Authority

U.S. agriculture took a big step forward this week with the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan passage of Trade Promotion Authority.

The legislation is vital to Idaho agriculture and every other farm state that depends on the ability to export commodities.

“Congress moving this legislation to the President’s desk sends a strong signal to foreign governments that we mean business at the bargaining table and are ready to complete new agreements that will break down trade barriers and open new markets all over the world,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is a legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and spells out a detailed oversight and consultation process for trade negotiations. Under TPA, Congress retains the authority to review and decide whether any proposed U.S. trade agreement will be implemented. TPA does not provide new power to the Executive Branch.

AFBF, Regarding House Passage Of Trade Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C., – “American farmers and ranchers lead the world in food production thanks to ceaseless hard work and innovation. Expanding access to international markets continues this story of growth and prosperity.

“The House’s bipartisan passage of trade promotion authority legislation today brings us a step closer to completing ambitious trade negotiations around the world. Congressional support is critical to breaking down trade barriers and completing ambitious new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPA streamlines negotiations and strengthens our position at the bargaining table.

Farm Bureau Hails Committee Action To Stop EPA Overreach

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2015 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s passage of a bill to stop the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule shows Congress is listening, even if the EPA won’t.

The controversial WOTUS rule gives federal agencies new powers to regulate many normal farming, ranching and business activities, making it the largest federal overreach in memory.

The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, S. 1140, would force EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to scrap its own, extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and return to the drawing board, this time to craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress’ intent. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, ranchers, home builders and others who would be affected by the new rule.

Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Open for Applications Through June 30

WASHINGTON, D.C., – The American Farm Bureau Federation is now accepting applications for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds. Applications must be submitted by June 30.

The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being cultivated in rural regions of the United States. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses.

Competitors must have an idea for a business that is related to food and agriculture. Businesses related to food and agriculture include farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farm-to-table restaurants and farmers’ markets. Businesses indirectly related to food and agriculture include support services such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag technology companies.

Sustainability should be off the table in federal dietary guidelines

AFBF — While farmers and ranchers strongly support work on agricultural sustainability, there is no scientific basis for incorporating sustainability concepts in federal dietary guidelines, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In comments regarding the scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Farm Bureau noted that the government’s dietary guidelines strongly influence policy development, program administration and delivery and the educational message directed toward American consumers with respect to food and nutrition issues, which makes it imperative that the Health and Human Services Department and USDA base the guidelines on well-established, widely accepted scientific evidence.

“Unfortunately, the scientific report of the advisory committee goes well beyond its designated scope of work, delivering a report that strongly suggests the committee would base dietary guidelines on more than health and nutrition considerations. The report includes an extensive section on the topic of sustainability, citing a need ‘to have alignment and consistency in dietary guidance that promotes both health and sustainability,’” Farm Bureau said, quoting directly from the report.

Farmers to Congress: Fast Track American Agriculture with Trade Promotion Authority

WASHINGTON, D.C., – California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger addressed the urgent need for trade promotion authority at a press conference on Capitol Hill today. The American Farm Bureau Federation and state Farm Bureaus across the nation are calling on Congress to secure agriculture’s stake in the international marketplace by passing the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2015.

America’s farmers and ranchers exported more than $152 billion in farm goods last year alone. But that growth is at serious risk due to non-scientific standards and high tariffs around the world.

“For America’s farmers and ranchers to see continued export growth, we must pen deals that knock down trade barriers,” Wenger said.

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