At every county/regional Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, I attended my remarks centered on three concerns, farm margins, farm regulations and farm faces.
The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) is very concerned about the shrinking profit margins in agriculture, especially the negative margins in the livestock sectors.
There is no doubt about it; we in agriculture are very good at what we do. We raise more crops on fewer acres with less inputs. We raise more pigs per sow per year. We use new technology, new genetics and scientifically improved animal care practices to strengthen our industry and have increased trade to let our industry grow.
Now, the global recession has weakened export demand and many times negative margins at the farm gate. All of agriculture must pull together to weather this storm.
Federal climate change legislation, changes to the Clean Water Act, animal welfare legislation and health care system changes that could affect every one of us. The American Clean Energy & Security Act (climate change legislation) will fundamentally change how America generates and uses its energy. Yes, we need a robust renewable electricity standard, but curtailing fossil fuels with no immediate or realistic alternative to make up for the lost energy will significantly increase our energy costs and give our competitors the advantage of cheaper energy. We must have policy based on sound science and the best analysis available. And, we must have policy that requires a global response.
The Clean Water Act has been working for 36 years. Proposed changes will expand Federal authority at the expense of states’ rights. Removing “navigable waters” and replacing with “all waters of the US” will extend federal regulations to all water, everywhere.
The health and care of our animals are the top priority of farmers and ranchers. Healthy animals mean healthy food for you and your family. We are continuing to see a movement from those not involved in animal agriculture, such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), try to determine how, where and even if farm animals can be raised. Farm Bureau supports the use of veterinarians, animal scientists and experienced farmers to develop, enhance and employ reasonable science-based management practices for animal agriculture.
Health care changes will affect everyone. MFBF is not only concerned about the affordability of health care but also concerned about the access to health care. We will be at the table to make sure health care changes do not negatively affect rural health care costs and rural health care access.
As Farm Bureau members, we must do a better job of putting a face on agriculture. Consumers must have a face to help reconnect them with who is growing and caring for the food they eat. Please do your part as a Farm Bureau member to strengthen the link between farm families and consumers so they know where their food came from, and that it was cared for.
As I am writing this column, MFBF has achieved a membership increase of at least 27,500 members for 2009. This is a significant accomplishment in this difficult economic climate. By working together, Farm Bureau volunteers and staff; and Farm Bureau Financial Services staff and agents were able to achieve this goal. Thank you to everyone who has made this success happen!