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New Poll Shows Strong Support for Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2016 -- A new poll from Morning Consult shows most voters favor fair trade – something all candidates should keep in mind as a congressional vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement comes closer to reality.
“Most Americans support free trade,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “and most farmers do, too. Exports account for almost a quarter of American farm receipts, so opposing fair trade agreements like TPP doesn’t make a lot of sense to rural America.”
Among other things, the August poll found:

•    Fifty-seven percent of registered voters have a favorable view of “fair trade.”

Farmers' Almanac Launches Farmer of the Year Contest

LEWISTON, MAINE - Farmers' Almanac, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, announces its search for three farmers or ranchers to be recognized as "Farmers' Almanac Farmer of the Year."

The contest, announced in the special 200th Collector's Edition of the 2017 Farmers' Almanac, seeks to recognize and share the dedication, hard work and contributions farmers make to our world and society. Stories of outstanding individuals who work hard to bring food to our tables are sought.

"We're looking for farmers and ranchers who have figured out how to keep their centuries-old, family run farms alive and thriving, as well as newcomers who may have just started out in farming or ranching," said Farmers' Almanac Managing Editor Sandi Duncan, Philom. "The people who work in agriculture are vital to our everyday life and we'd like to honor them in the pages of the Farmers' Almanac."

Ag Labor and Border Security Require Balanced Approach

WASHINGTON, D.C., – For farmers and ranchers, immigration reform must balance agriculture’s need for a dependable supply of agricultural labor with enhanced security at our nation’s border. A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation highlights those issues, but with political debate ramping up and no practical solutions on the horizon, farmers say important areas of U.S. food production are at risk.

Farmers and ranchers know that you cannot address immigration reform without tackling the issue of border security, said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, who recently saw the delicate balance between the two issues during a tour of agriculture and border security efforts in Arizona.

Across the nation, farmers and ranchers are experiencing a labor crisis. Reliable and skilled farm workers are harder to come by with each harvest season. And, without an efficient and legal way for a dependable supply of farm workers to enter the country, more U.S. crops are being left to rot in the field. That means consumers will be less able to enjoy American-grown products, according to the video.

AFBF Urges Support for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2016 - Career and technical education and post-high school job training and retraining are essential to the economic viability of rural communities. For that reason, the American Farm Bureau Federation is urging congressional support for H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

The bill reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. In a letter sent to House lawmakers, AFBF encouraged reauthorization of the bill. "A skilled workforce is needed in rural America, just as it is in urban and suburban communities," wrote AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

Tax reform blueprint includes important provisions for agriculture

July 5, 2016 - The House Republican's recently released tax reform plan addresses several important features for farmers and ranchers, including full expensing, exclusions for capital gains and repeal of the estate tax.  

"Speaker Ryan, Chairman Brady and House Republicans are to be commended for developing a blueprint for rewriting our nation's cumbersome, convoluted and complex tax code. Their plan is a strong and much-needed start to what will surely be an extensive tax reform discussion," American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing the conversation about meaningful tax reform that benefits the whole economy."

There are many uncertainties farmers face, including commodity and input prices, as well as Mother Nature, but the tax code shouldn't be as unpredictable as markets or the weather, Duvall noted.


Farm Labor Shortage Vexes Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C., - A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation shines a spotlight on the frustrations of the nation's farmers in finding workers to harvest their crops. While the video highlights peach production in Georgia, it also outlines the scope of the farm labor problem across the U.S.

Hiring a seasonal skilled workforce to bring crops in from the fields to America's tables has proved to be difficult if not impossible for farmers. That's why many farmers rely heavily on a program called H-2A, through which the federal government grants foreign nationals short-term visas to help harvest crops.

"This is a serious issue for farmers across America," said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. "If you have a crop that's ready and your harvest window is narrow and your workers show up late - you're going to lose your crop."

All-American July 4th Cookout Ticks Up, Still Under $6 Per Person

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – A cookout of Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, will cost slightly more this year but still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $56.06, or $5.61 per person.

Although the cost for the cookout is up slightly (less than 1 percent), “Prices in the meat case are starting to look better from the consumers’ perspective,” said Veronica Nigh, an AFBF economist. “Retail ground round prices are trending lower,” she noted, pointing to the nation’s cattle inventory and commercial beef production, which continue to rebound from dramatically low levels in 2014 and 2015.

AFBFA Announces Grants for Middle and After-School STEM 'Maker Kits'

WASHINGTON D.C., - The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is offering a total of $10,000 in grants to 10 middle school science classrooms and 10 after-school programs serving middle school students. Participating schools will receive $500 each to pilot a new Maker Kit challenge developed by the Foundation.

The STEM-focused Maker Kits encourage students to research scenarios related to food production and build their own models to solve a challenge. A detailed outline on how to conduct the challenge - written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts - will be provided to pilot schools. Supplies to complete the challenge will also be provided.

Pilot locations will be selected by July 15. Materials will be distributed the first week of August, and pilots must be completed by September 15.

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