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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.

Farm Bureau Hails Supreme Court Victory: Farmers and Ranchers May Sue to Stop Clean Water Regulation of Ordinary Farmland

WASHINGTON, D.C., – A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled landowners may challenge the federal government whenever the Army Corps of Engineers tries improperly to regulate land with regulations designed to protect water.

Landowners have attempted many times to challenge Corps rulings known as jurisdictional determinations, but the government successfully argued that those determinations were not “final agency actions” and the lawsuits were dismissed. Now, when the Corps asserts jurisdiction over low spots that look more like land than water, it will have to do so with the knowledge that its jurisdictional determination can be tested in court.

“Today’s decision removes a huge roadblock that has prevented landowners from obtaining relief from the courts when the Corps illegally claims their land is federally regulated water,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Now, farmers and ranchers can have their day in court when the government tells them they cannot plow a field or improve a ditch without a federal permit.”

My American Farm Outreach Grant Winners Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C, - The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has announced the 10 schools receiving this year's $1,500 My American Farm Outreach Grants. They are:

Cassia High School (Burley, Idaho)
Christian Academy of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)
Cumberland Valley FFA (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania)
Elk Grove High School Agriculture Department (Elk Grove, California)
Linn-Mar FFA Chapter (Marion, Iowa)
McArthur FFA (Hollywood, Florida)
North Iredell High School (Olin, North Carolina)
Ponchatoula High School FFA Chapter and Agriscience Department (Ponchatoula, Louisiana)
Sonora High School FFA (Sonora, California)
Waupun Area High School FFA (Waupun, Wisconsin)

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