Livingston outlines national issuesWritten by Christy Martinez
Cheyenne – At the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) annual convention in Cheyenne Nov. 10-12, WyFB President Perry Livingston addressed his fellow members updating them on national issues in which the WyFB and the American Farm Bureau Federation are involved.
He said one of the big things related to agriculture is the 2012 farm bill.
“The Senate and House ag committees have been working on it since early September, and it’s really a moving target,” said Livingston. “We’re all aware, by now, that direct payments will be gone – they probably won’t even get through 2012.”
Livingston said that, as the farm bill now stands, a small portion of producers’ losses – 15 to 20 percent – will be protected with shallow loss protection, and after that crop insurance will be the only real protection, should there be a major occurrence.
“At this point the House and Senate ag committees will send their proposals to the super committee, which is a group of Congressmen from the House and Senate who will determine the final numbers, so that’s a real challenge for American agriculture on how to react,” said Livingston.
Livingston pointed out another item that’s been pending for four or five years is the free trade agreements.
“There are a few who question whether we really need these trade agreements, and I’m here to say yes, we do,” he noted. “Those three agreements will mean $2.5 billion in increased agricultural trade, and the majority of that will be to Korea.”
Along with others who spoke at the convention, Livingston expressed his concern over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) dust regulations.
“If they’re allowed to be implemented, the EPA rules on dust could potentially destroy agriculture in large sections of the United States,” he said. “EPA doesn’t understand, and they insist on following and chasing these rules that are detrimental to the economy and to the United States.”
Livingston noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to enforce the daily hourly rule for drivers for harvesters and spring planting operations.
“We all know that when planting time comes, and the weather is cooperating, eight or 10 hours of work for farmers and ranchers is not enough. You don’t have enough time to get your work done when the weather is cooperating, but the DOT doesn’t care. Congress has to challenge that, and there’s a law that has been introduced that would exempt farmers and ranchers during planting and harvesting times of the year,” said Livingston. “It’s unfortunate that it has to come to that – that these regulations are coming down from federal agencies.”
“I started milking a cow when I was five years old, and raking hay when I was six years old, and I was in violation of their rule,” said Livingston of the Department of Labor proposal that would limit the age that children are allowed to work on farms and ranches. “With this rule, you can’t hire the neighbor kid to come over and help stack bales, and we stacked a lot of bales for the neighbors. If the Department of Labor gets their way, we won’t be able to do that, but that’s how a lot of the work gets done on family farms and ranches.”
“On the American and Wyoming front, legal issues continue to be a topic of discussion,” said Livingston. “It seems like every few days there’s a new front that American agriculture must defend.”
Livingston encouraged producers who may be in the bulls eye of the EPA or other rules to get in touch with WyFB Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton and the legal team at American Farm Bureau Federation.
“They are very familiar with these things, and they would be more than happy to visit with you on your specific issues.”