Farm Bureau American Farm Bureau Federation ®
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April 5, 2004 http://www.fb.org/fbn/ Vol. 83, No. 7
In This Issue
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The Ag Agenda: Death and In the persistent call for the Senate to all nitrogen fertilizers in the United cost of operating their natural-gas-pow-
taxes: A double whammy pass the energy bill, another Farm States. ered irrigation pumps increased more
for farm families
2 Bureau member testified before Con-
gress about why farmers need the bill
Drake said that farmers in Okla-
homa’s panhandle region report the
than 70 percent in 2003 over the previ-
See Energy bill, page 3
to help ease their energy costs.
Weight ‘til you hear this: Bob Drake, vice president of the
Oklahoma Farm Bureau (OFB), said the
thoughts on obesity
............................................. 3 energy bill (S. 2095) would boost do-
mestic energy supplies by encouraging
development of renewable sources
Regional priorities section: such as ethanol, biodiesel and wind,
Bird flu, property taxes are and increasing supplies of domestic
............................................. 4 traditional energy sources such as
natural gas, oil and coal. He testified
on behalf of the American Farm Bu-
Regional priorities section: reau Federation and OFB.
Two states deal with CAFOs, The Senate energy bill has been held
up most recently because Democrats
............................................. 5 and Republicans haven’t agreed on
how much time to allow for the floor
debate and for amendments to be of-
EPA to assess the health of fered. Democrats reportedly want to
the nation’s streams
............................................. 6 offer as many as 100 amendments.
The bill would help quell the natural
gas price volatility of the last couple of
North Carolina farmers get years by providing royalty relief and Letters, we get letters
involved in gleaning
............................................. 7 other incentives for exploration. Drake
said natural gas is perhaps the most
The American Farm Bureau Federation has received around 15,000 letters and
postcards from farmers and ranchers in support of the federal government’s
important energy source to production decision to streamline the pesticide approval process and eliminate a proce-
Food prices rise in first agriculture, and the cost has more dural issue that environmental groups have used to sue the government over
than doubled since 2000. Farmers use
............................................. 8 natural gas to power traditional farm
pesticide registrations. AFBF will deliver the letters and postcards to the Fish
and Wildlife Service this week, adding to the thousands the agency has al-
equipment, and it’s the primary raw ready received. The deadline to comment is April 16.
material for the production of virtually
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New tobacco buyout bill introduced
Two more members of Congress have the tobacco industry and need federal the tobacco buyout for years, so we
introduced a bill to compensate to- assistance. We believe the Fair and welcome almost any proposal that
bacco quota owners for giving up their Equitable Tobacco Reform bill effec- brings more supporters and momen-
quota and make it easier for them to tively helps those who need it most.” tum to the buyout.”
switch to other crops or land uses. AFBF policy supports a buyout pro- The new bill does not include a pro-
Farm Bureau says tobacco quota own- gram that would pay $8 per pound to vision to move regulation of tobacco
ers can’t afford to give up their quota, quota holders and $4 per pound as a products from the state level to the
a major investment, without federal transition payment for tobacco grow- federal Food and Drug Administration,
help. ers. The Jenkins-McIntyre bill would something that the Phillip Morris com-
The new bill, the Fair and Equitable pay $7 per pound to quota holders and pany insists must be included for it to
Tobacco Reform Act, joins several $3 per pound to growers. The pay- support a buyout. The company pre-
other tobacco buyout bills introduced ments would be spread over five years. fers one federal regulatory structure
in the 108th Congress. The American Despite the slightly lower payments over the patchwork of state regula-
Farm Bureau Federation has notified in the new bill, AFBF still supports it tions. Other cigarette makers, how-
the bill’s sponsors, Reps. William Jen- because “we just need to get a buy- ever, do not want to give FDA any new
kins (R-Tenn.) and Mike McIntyre (D- out,” according to Dana Brooks, AFBF authority over the industry. The dis-
N.C.), that it supports their legislation. commodity specialist. agreement over the regulation of ciga-
“AFBF believes your bill equitably “Every piece of buyout legislation rettes has been a major impediment to
compensates tobacco quota owners that is introduced advances the debate moving a buyout bill.
and growers,” wrote AFBF President and, if any of them pass, moves things Buyout supporters are hoping to at-
Bob Stallman. “Tobacco-producing forward,” Brooks explained. “We’ve tach legislation to a must-pass bill such
states are reeling from the changes in been trying to get some movement on See Tobacco buyout, page 6
Page 2 Farm Bureau news April 5, 2004
Death and taxes: A double whammy for farm families
It’s that time of year again ... tax time. that 98 percent of Americans pass their
As the old cliché goes, in this world estates on tax-free, and that all of the
nothing is certain but death and taxes. estate taxes in 2000 were paid by Amer-
Unfortunately, this double whammy icans with estates larger than $5 mil-
hits many Americans at precisely the lion. Tell that to Neil Westfall.
same time in the form of estate taxes, Gates has repeatedly, publicly at-
or as we farmers call it—the death tax. tacked Farm Bureau for its stance on
repealing the death tax. He suggests
The hardest hit that farmers are being used, held hos-
Farm Bureau supports full and final tage by advocates of the repeal. He has
repeal of the death tax. Year after year, gone as far as to insult the intelligence
Farm Bureau members consistently list of farmers by suggesting they are not
it as the organization’s top tax priority informed about the issue. I bet Mr.
because of the tax’s potential to pre- Gates would be hard pressed to find a
vent families from passing their farms of our convincing case against the Americans who fare better with a group of Americans more informed
on to their children. death tax. They want victims. death tax in place. about the unjust consequences of
Regrettably, many farm families bare- Here is a prime example. Farm Bu- death taxes than those farmers living
ly have a chance to mourn the loss of reau member and Oregon tree farmer Some don’t get it with its ramifications.
their loved one before they are hit with and rancher Neil Westfall was willed, I recently read a parable by Bill Gates For myself, along with the farm and
exorbitant taxes that can force farmers along with his father and brother, his Sr. (You may recognize his name; his ranch families of Farm Bureau, being
to sell off chunks of their land, the very great aunt’s ranch, valued at around son is the founder of Microsoft.) In his American does not mean forfeiting the
land that is used for their livelihood. $900,000. During the following 15 parable, Gates told of two souls in line family farm to the government. In-
Farm and ranch estates face heavier years, the Westfalls paid estate taxes for birth who were told one would be stead, it is knowing that every Ameri-
and potentially more disruptive death and interest totaling $750,000. Later, American and one would not. God can can contribute to their country
tax burdens than other estates. In the upon Neil’s father’s death, the West- asked them to think about how much without being penalized for their hard
late 1990s, roughly twice as many falls shelled out another $200,000 to of their accumulated wealth they were work and success. It is the reassurance
farm estates paid federal death taxes settle the estate for a grand total of prepared to give back at the end of that when our life on Earth is com-
compared to estates in general, and $950,000—$50,000 more than the their lives to earn that right. Gates sug- plete, our years of hard work and way
the average tax paid by farmers was original worth of the ranch! In effect, gested the correct answer was all of it, of life will be passed on to our children
larger than what was paid by most the Westfall family ended up buying saying, “That’s what it’s worth to be so that they can follow in our foot-
other estates. Unlike wealthy Ameri- from the government their fourth-gen- American.” steps, just as many of us followed in
cans who set up trusts and sell off eration ranch that was given to them. Gates and his group, Responsible our parents’ footsteps.
stock to pay estate taxes, farmers lose There are more examples of farmers Wealth, believe the tax promotes equal- For Neil Westfall and other farmers
their land. like Neil Westfall. Unfortunately, that ity and supports democracy by slowing and ranchers, being able to pass along
Yet, even with that evidence, critics doesn’t appear to be enough for a the accumulation of wealth and power that dream to future generations is
continue to question the authenticity number of powerful and wealthy in the hands of the few. They argue what it’s worth to be an American.
Farmers must speak up and tell agriculture’s story
By Matt Lohr pen very often in the mainstream that PAL provided us a unique oppor- While farming is often a perilous
media. tunity to grow and develop the tools business, some think it is more risky to
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Like many seg- Fifty years ago, almost all Americans we need to more effectively reach out speak out. I believe exactly the oppo-
ments of society, had a tie to farming. If a person didn’t to our urban neighbors to set the site is true. Silence is no longer a risk
farmers and live on a farm, chances are he or she record straight. we can afford to take.
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ranchers are con- lived near one or had a relative who PAL is just one example of a new
cerned and dis- made a living off the land. More way to spread agriculture’s positive Matt Lohr, a graduate of the inaugural
mayed with how people were exposed to agriculture ev- message. But, to really do the job effec- PAL class, is a fifth-generation farmer in
the news media ery day, and had a basic understanding tively, everyone must become even Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
portray them. of how the industry worked. When we more involved. Some steps may re-
are completely removed from it, how- quire a huge commitment, like run-
And who could
blame them? In- ever, we lose that focus. That’s what ning for political office. Right now in
stead of reporting how it is possible for
fewer than 2 percent of our citizens to
feed the other 98 percent and millions
more overseas, the media tend to con-
has happened in today’s America.
Farmers have done such a great job be-
hind the scenes that the public takes
us for granted. Today, we must con-
Virginia, not one of our 140 state legis-
lative delegates and senators claim
farming as his or her profession. Other
actions require less time, but that does
news (ISSN 0197-5617)
centrate on sensational, but negative, sciously step forward to tell our stories not diminish the need to make a per- Joseph S. Fields,
stories about agriculture that are, at as “advocates for agriculture.” sonal commitment to get involved. Public Relations Director
best, inaccurate. Over the past year, I was part of the I am proud to be a farmer. Our fam- Don Lipton, Deputy Director
As a farmer, I know that kind of re- inaugural Partners in Agricultural Lead- ily farm began more than 100 years Lynne Finnerty, Editor
porting paints a distorted portrait. At ership (PAL) class. I was selected, with ago with my great-grandfather, and I Terrence Nowlin, Assistant Editor
best, it leads to a collective apathy nine others, to participate in this excit- am blessed to carry on the tradition of Phyllis Brown, Assistant Editor
about what should be viewed as a ing program. The American Farm Bu- living off the land. At age 32, I am ex-
Published semimonthly, except monthly in
modern miracle. I also believe, how- reau Federation and the Altria Family cited about the future of our industry. August and December, by the American Farm
ever, that my fellow citizens, if ex- of Companies developed a rigorous There is no greater responsibility than Bureau Federation, 600 Maryland Ave., SW,
Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024.
posed to the facts, would agree that curriculum designed to give us hands- producing the food, fiber and fuel that Phone: 202-406-3600. E-mail: email@example.com.
farmers are the backbone that keeps on training in telling agriculture’s sustain our society. Farmers must share Web site: http://www.fb.org.
our nation strong. story. Boot-camp-like training was of- that story of success. The time is now Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and
additional mailing offices. Subscription rate for
Americans are blessed with the saf- fered in areas such as media relations, to advocate our cause to those around officers and board members of county and state
est, cheapest and most abundant food speech writing, legislative affairs, form- us. If they don’t hear our story, Farm Bureaus—$6, which is deducted from dues. For
supply anywhere in the world. Farmers ing partnerships and becoming stron- chances are someone else will tell the
and ranchers need to be commended ger leaders in our states and communi- story for us and it may be the wrong Postmaster: Send address changes to
Farm Bureau News, 600 Maryland Ave., SW,
for their efforts, but that doesn’t hap- ties. Having just graduated, I can attest story. Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024.
April 5, 2004 Farm Bureau news Page 3
Weight ’til you hear this: thoughts on obesity
By Jack Fisher
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gist said food advertisements on televi- And the trend-line is going up. Beyond Which brings me back to who’s to
sion make it impossible for me to stay the physical and emotional damage to blame for our ever-expanding national
I looked at one of thin. Heck, I think I’ll even blame my individuals, there’s an economic con- waistline. A Consumer Reports article
those charts the mom. She must have told me a thou- sequence as well. A USDA report esti- said farmers are at fault because—get
other day that sand times when I was a kid, “Clean mates that between health care expen- this—they raise food that’s too cheap!
tells you your your plate—there are children starving ditures and lost productivity, our over- Now there’s the ultimate in blame-
ideal weight for in China!” weight society is costing us nearly shifting.
your height. I dis- Just in case you were wondering, I’m $123 billion a year. Passing the blame Yes, food in America is inexpensive.
covered that I’m not really blaming mom, or govern- won’t control this growing problem. But that doesn’t make us fat. Our
too short. ment, or restaurants or television. I’m The only way we’ll resolve it is by tak- meats, grains, dairy products, fruits
OK, I suppose blaming me. To pretend I’m not ac- ing personal responsibility. and vegetables, produced safely and
what I should countable for my own weight is an I’m certainly not the one to give efficiently, make us the most well-
have learned is that I’m carrying an exercise in willful denial. And when guidance on how to control weight. I’ll nourished people in the history of the
extra pound or two. I’d feel bad about the media or activists tell all of us “it’s rely on the experts. The American Di- world.
it, but I don’t have to. It’s not my not our fault,” they’re serving us a etetic Association said when consid- Farmers provide us with abundant,
fault. super-sized portion of delusion. We ering proper nutrition, “There are no affordable food. What we choose to do
Peter Jennings of ABC News said I don’t need excuses. We need solutions good or bad foods, only good or bad with that blessing is no one’s
can blame the government because its to a severe national problem. diets and eating styles.” And it added, responsibility but our own.
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policies encourage farmers to grow too The U.S. Department of Agriculture “If consumed in moderation with ap-
much food. The New York Times told said nearly two-thirds of American propriate portion size and combined John C. (Jack) Fisher is executive vice pres-
me to fault restaurants for serving por- adults are overweight. Approximately with regular physical activity, all foods ident of the Ohio Farm Bureau
tions that are too big. A Yale psycholo- 15 percent of our children are, too. can fit into a healthful diet.” Federation.
FB member tells Congress about wetland woes
Federal wetlands regulations enforced said to be a tributary to the non-navi-
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gable upper reach of the Minnesota
(Corps) are confusing and burdensome River,” Luthi testified. “If my land can
to farmers and other landowners, ac- be regulated as navigable waters, just
cording to Aldean Luthi, Minnesota about any land can.”
Farm Bureau member. The Corps said that in order for
Luthi testified at a March 30 congres- Luthi to get a permit to improve
sional hearing about the problems he around 11 of his 130 acres, he would
experienced when he proposed improv- have to restore or create 17.7 acres of
ing the drainage on part of his land. wetlands somewhere else. Luthi said
The Corps determined that the land that was prohibitively expensive.
was subject to regulation as a wetland “That kind of increase in my cost of
connected to “navigable water,” even production would have a huge impact
though Luthi’s farm is 160 miles from on my farm’s viability,” said Luthi.
navigable water, and after the U.S. Agri- Also, he said, taking the land out of
culture Department and the Minnesota production and enrolling it in a federal
government had told him his land was conservation program would hamper
not considered a wetland. He said the his ability to maintain a viable farming
connection between his land and navi- operation to pass along to his children
gable water was tenuous at best. someday.
“The Corps’ claim of jurisdiction “I appreciate that incentive-based The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is restricting what landowners with wetlands
over my property is based upon a re- alternatives exist. I know that I could can do with their property, even though the wetlands are isolated, meaning
mote hydrologic connection of my place these 11.8 acres in the Conserva- not directly connected to navigable waters, and even though the Supreme
field to an unnamed wetland, which is tion Reserve Program, the Wetland Court has ruled that the Corps doesn’t have jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.
adjacent to another unnamed wetland, Reserve Program or the Wildlife Habi-
which is adjacent to an unnamed tri- tat Incentives Program,” Luthi said. production.... If I have to give up bits islation soon to clear up the federal
butary, which is adjacent to the non- “But, Mr. Chairman, I am a farmer. I and pieces, soon my operation will run government’s jurisdiction.
navigable Chippewa River, which is am interested in keeping my land in out of land and not be a viable and The Supreme Court ruled in 2001
economic operation.” that the Corps and the Environmental
Luthi also questioned why the Protection Agency had overreached
Farmers need energy bill project he proposed would not fall
under an agricultural exemption in the
their authority under the Clean Water
Act in trying to regulate isolated wet-
continued from page 1 porting Countries plans to cut oil Clean Water Act, the law that deals lands that do not have a clear connec-
ous year. One producer, in Beaver production. with protecting and restoring wet- tion to navigable waters. The court said
County, Okla., reported to Drake that If the Senate passes its energy bill, lands. He said the confusion over what a mere hydrological connection wasn’t
those costs were solely responsible a slimmed-down version of the en- is a wetland in the first place, as well enough to justify federal regulation.
for a $26,000 drop in his net income. ergy bill it passed last year (H.R. 6), as the definition of normal farming ex- The Bush administration proposed
“In addition, farmers and ranchers a House-Senate conference commit- emptions, demonstrates that there is new regulations in line with the court
have experienced diesel fuel price tee will have to reconcile differ- too much room for different interpre- ruling. Farm Bureau members sent
increases 40 percent above historical ences between it and the bill al- tations of the law. thousands of comments in favor of the
averages,” Drake said. ready passed in the House. Then, “This just shows that there is a great proposed new regulations, but they
Rising fuel costs have become a the conference report would need need for Congress to clarify these is- were overwhelmed by comments
hot issue lately upon news that to go back to both houses for one sues,” he said. against the change. In the end, the
the Organization of Petroleum Ex- last vote. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) wants to agencies decided to leave the old regu-
do just that. He plans to introduce leg- lations intact.
Page 4 Farm Bureau news April 5, 2004
Bird flu, property taxes are top issues
have banned imports from the affected program is doing what we thought it save more than $4 billion a year.
states. None of the strains found in the should do.” Counties are required to pay for 25
United States affect human health. Farmers in New York are concerned percent of the Medicaid services pro-
Connecticut has not had a case of about rising property taxes. New York vided in the county, but the state gov-
avian influenza this year. That may be has the fourth highest property tax in ernment has the option of deciding
The discovery of avian influenza in a because the state instituted a pilot vac- the country, according to the Business which Medicaid services to offer.
few northeastern and mid-Atlantic cination program at its largest poultry Council of New York State, primarily Unfortunately for local governments
states in recent months has the region operation, Kofkoff Egg Farm, after an to cover the costs of Medicaid. New and property tax payers, the state has
worried about maintaining not only avian influenza outbreak there last York Farm Bureau said a disproportion- opted into the full array of services.
the health of chickens, turkeys and year. The operation has multiple facili- ate percentage of the property tax bur- State legislators have introduced four
ducks that can get the virus, but also ties and accounts for as much as 99 den falls on farmers. different proposals to address the prop-
the health of the region’s poultry in- percent of the state’s poultry industry. “Unlike other small businesses, farm- erty tax problem, either by setting a
dustry and agricultural economy. State animal health officials believe ers bear the brunt of local property monetary cap on the amount counties
While the bird flu strain found in the vaccination program is doing its taxes due to the necessity of owning have to pay for Medicaid or by limit-
the region is low pathogenic and, job. land to farm—and New York’s prop- ing the Medicaid programs in which
therefore, less serious than a high- “To date, we feel that it’s on the erty taxes are already 50 percent high- the state participates.
pathogenic strain found last month in right course,” said Mary Jane Lis, state er than the national average,” said a “We’re encouraged to see them pay-
Texas, it can still affect the industry’s veterinarian with the Connecticut NYFB statement on its priority issues. ing attention to this issue,” said Chris
ability to export poultry. Nineteen Agriculture Department. “We have not NYFB said that if the state reduced LaRoe, NYFB spokesman. “We hope
countries so far have closed their bor- been able to isolate any incidents of its Medicaid spending to twice the they will come together soon and
ders to all U.S. poultry, and 16 others avian influenza at the facilities, so the national average, taxpayers would reach a compromise.”
Water, salmon protection concern raised
University of Washington professor (on the Columbia River), and with porting waters,” a term that doesn’t
The prevalence of species protected contend that releasing water from the those kinds of numbers how can the mean salmon actually live in the wa-
under the Endangered Species Act reservoirs would do little to boost fish be threatened in light of this court ters, only that they could do so. The
(ESA) and water quantity and quality salmon numbers, but would take hun- decision,” Bartlett said. ruling establishes 60- to 300-foot buff-
issues in the West have combined to dreds of thousands of farmland acres Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau ers between rivers and streams and
create big headaches for farmers and out of production. president, said environmentalists land where the pesticides can be used.
ranchers in the region. Several environmental groups have might even be fishing the wrong wa- Washington Farm Bureau (WFB) has
Idaho farmers are fighting to main- turned to the courts to force the fed- ters for a solution to the salmon prob- appealed the ruling. The U.S. Agricul-
tain dams and reservoirs that provide eral government to release water from lem. Favorable ocean conditions over ture Department estimates that 85 per-
much-needed irrigation water, water the reservoirs. They claim the govern- the last three years have increased the cent of the ruling’s $100 million to
that has become especially dear in re- ment is violating the ESA by not pro- numbers of salmon returning to Idaho, $600 million impact—revenue losses
cent years due to a prolonged drought. viding more water for the fish. he said. Environmental groups might due to reduced yields and the higher
Environmental groups have sued the A federal appeals court in February do well to focus on the reasons behind cost of alternative pest control meth-
federal government over the dams and upheld a lower court ruling that the the recent turnaround, rather than in- ods—will be felt in Washington.
reservoirs, claiming that the structures federal government’s listing of coho sisting on a change that won’t really Although there is no proof that the
make it more difficult for endangered salmon as a threatened species in parts help the salmon, he said. pesticides harm salmon, environmen-
Pacific salmon to migrate down the of California and Oregon was invalid. If the West doesn’t get more rain tal groups sued the federal government
Snake and Columbia Rivers and out to The National Oceanic and Atmo- and snow, there may not be any water because the Environmental Protection
the ocean. The environmental groups spheric Administration (NOAA) Fisher- in the reservoirs to fight over. Water Agency had not consulted with federal
said that releasing water from the reser- ies (formerly the National Marine Fish- levels in most reservoirs remain below wildlife agencies as required by the
voirs would help flush newly hatched eries Service) had only counted wild average because of four to five years of ESA. WFB said the judge who issued
fish over the dams and down the rivers. fish and not hatchery fish. The ruling warmer- and drier-than-normal weath- the ruling failed to balance the “irrepa-
The Idaho Farm Bureau and other does not necessarily reverse the listing, er in much of the region. rable harm the order would have on
groups that want to maintain enough but it prevents NOAA-Fisheries from Other western states also are dealing farmers with little to no potential risk
water for farmers to irrigate their crops enforcing it. Judy Bartlett, Idaho Farm with their share of endangered species that proper use of the chemicals poses
said there’s no proof that releasing wa- Bureau director of public affairs, said issues. Thousands of farmers in Cali- for salmon.”
ter for salmon would help the fish, so the ruling sets a good precedent for fornia, Oregon and Washington can WFB estimates the buffers would
why endanger farmers in the process? the Idaho salmon case. no longer use certain common pesti- consume up to half of some farmers’
Indeed, two separate studies by the “Last year there were a million sal- cides because of a court ruling that orchards or cropland, making it hard
federal Bureau of Reclamation and by a mon that came over Bonneville dam bans applications near “salmon-sup- for them to continue farming.
April 5, 2004 Farm Bureau news Page 5
Two states deal with CAFOs, ‘outmigration’
In February, Michigan began requiring provide no such exemption for new doing all it can to be a good, environ-
more animal farms to submit nutrient animal facilities with at least double mentally responsible neighbor.”
management plans and obtain permits the number of animals that is the fed- Figuring out which operations are 2002, the state lost about 8,000 people
for their operations. The requirement eral threshold for classification as a affected by the new rules and what’s to other states. While fewer people,
applies to new and expanding opera- large CAFO. The federal threshold is required of them can be confusing, only 74, left North Dakota last year, it
tions that exceed certain numbers of 1,000 cattle, or 2,500 hogs weighing said Pigott. “We’re putting together was the only state in the nation to lose
cattle, pigs, chickens and other ani- 55 pounds or more. information materials so they know rather than gain population.
mals. Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) MFB is concerned about the impact exactly what’s going on,” he said. The state is looking at, among other
opposes the change. the new state regulations could have Each permit application will be the things, creating more value-added agri-
The state’s permitting requirements on farmers’ willingness to participate subject of a public meeting where culture to incorporate more of a pro-
stem from the federal rule finalized in in the Michigan Agricultural Environ- members of the community can speak duction chain into farms and ranches,
late 2002 that changed the definition mental Assurance Program (MAEAP). for or against approving the permit. according to Dawn Smith-Pfeifer of
of a large concentrated animal feeding “Our concern is that, for new opera- “The environmental community will North Dakota Farm Bureau.
operation (CAFO). tions over a certain size, there is no utilize the public meetings because it “We and other groups are working
Under Michigan’s old rules, farms incentive to participate in MAEAP on provides a good podium,” explained with the universities in our state to
that had not discharged wastewater in top of having to get a permit anyway,” Pigott. “But the state has to base its de- explore what it would take to create
the past could go through a voluntary explained Scott Pigott, agricultural cisions on the science and actual data.” more opportunities on the farm and in
environmental assurance program and ecology department manager for MFB. A catchword in North Dakota these our rural areas in general,” Smith-
didn’t have to get a National Pollutant “We want to see continued MAEAP days is “outmigration.” Many North Pfeifer said. “There’s a feeling that we
Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) participation because it sends a good Dakotans are worried about their state’s need to address this problem to ensure
permit. But the state’s new CAFO rules message to the public that the farm is declining population. From 2000 to that there will be a future for our state.”
States deal with ballot, water rights issues
Florida voters two years ago amended grassroots movements has been turned Alabama and Florida have sued the River. Mexico is behind on its debt of
the state’s constitution to ban the use into a political weapon for anyone Corps to keep it from allocating more billions of gallons of water it owes the
of gestation crates to confine pregnant with a personal agenda and the check- water for Atlanta. Georgia has joined United States under a 1944 water treaty.
pigs, after animal rights activists se- book to back it up.” the lawsuit on the side of the Corps. That treaty commits the United
cured enough signatures to put the ini- FFBF said such ballot initiatives by- Meanwhile, in Oklahoma and sev- States to allocate water to Mexico from
tiative on the ballot. The success of pass the normal legislative process, eral other states, the enemy is not the Colorado River, which it continues
that effort, led by a group called Farm where the true impact, rationale and other water uses, but an ornamental, to do, and commits Mexico to provide
Sanctuary, has the Florida Farm Bureau costs of a constitutional amendment invasive tree that is soaking up water a third of the water in the Rio Grande
Federation (FFBF) working to “raise the must be taken into account. from streams, lakes and rivers. Salt ce- to the United States, something Mex-
bar” for passing such ballot initiatives Water quantity remains a top issue dar, or tamarisk, trees were planted in ico has failed to do since 1992. South
in the future. in many parts of the South where the early 1900s to prevent erosion of Texas farmers depend on water from
FFBF supports requiring at least 60 water was once considered plentiful. streambanks due to flooding. The the Rio Grande for irrigation, and sev-
percent of state voters to approve a bal- Farmers are in a fight for their share hardy trees have done their job all too eral of the last few years have been dif-
lot initiative in order to pass it, up from of a shrinking resource as drought well, and have multiplied aggressively ficult for them because of drought.
the simple majority required now. and development have drawn down over the years. Kenneth Dierschke, TFB president,
Voters will sign just about any peti- reservoirs. Because a single tree can absorb as said recently that Mexico clearly “in-
tion if supporters show it in a positive For example, the city of Atlanta, Ga., much as 200 gallons of water a day, tends to ignore this treaty for as long
light, without disclosing any of the a few years back asked the Corps of several states have made it a priority to as they are allowed to.” He said the
potential downsides, according to Engineers to increase withdrawals from eradicate them. U.S. government has not been aggres-
FFBF. And, because professional signa- the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Sen. sive enough in requiring Mexico to
ture gatherers hired by special interests Rivers Basin to satisfy demand by Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) want to give make good on its water debt. Negotia-
get paid to collect as many signatures Atlanta’s booming population. Florida them some help. They have each intro- tions to resolve the dispute have been
as possible, there’s an incentive for and Alabama oppose the increase, fear- duced bills authorizing federal funds fruitless.
them to misrepresent the content of a ing it would reduce oyster and fish har- for salt cedar eradication projects. The Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
petition if that’s what it takes to get vests for commercial and recreational House passed its bill, H.R. 2707, in Feb- has secured $20 million in federal
the job done, Farm Bureau said. fishing, and reduce the amount of wa- ruary. The Senate could take up its ver- assistance for Texas farmers who have
“The system has been hijacked,” said ter available for agricultural irrigation. sion, S. 1516, soon. been harmed by the loss of irrigation
Lee Ann Fisch, FFBF assistant director The states used to share water in the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) is keeping water. TFB has expressed appreciation
for state legislative affairs. “What basin under a tri-state compact. How- an eye on an ongoing dispute with to Hutchison for focusing on the
started out as a tool for authentic ever, the compact expired last year. Mexico over water in the Rio Grande problem.
Page 6 Farm Bureau news April 5, 2004
EPA to assess the health of the nation’s streams
The Environmental Protection Agency would like EPA to explain to agriculture in-stream water quality, but when it entific instrument down into a stream
plans to test 600 streams around the how it plans to do the assessment and comes to measuring human-induced and know for sure where a particle of
country over the next year to deter- how it plans to report the results.” stresses, “the plan fails the scientific sediment came from? The answer is
mine their ecological condition. The EPA’s goal is to generate a statistically test big time,” he said. no. So it’s unclear how EPA is going to
result will be a report on stream health valid estimate of the quality of the Parrish said EPA’s plan neglects to tell the difference.”
nationwide, sometime in 2005. nation’s waters. To do so, the agency define the “human-induced stresses” He said Farm Bureau’s concern is
The agency already tested, from 2000 plans to measure: (1) the biological in- or the extent to which they can be that the people who do the tests could
until now, nearly half the streams it tegrity of the assessed waters by com- measured. Even more troubling, he assume that just because a farm is near
plans to sample. The remainder will be paring each monitoring site to “natural, said, is the fact that EPA’s plan does a stream it must be the source of any
sampled throughout this year, prob- unmanaged sites;” (2) the health of not distinguish between natural and pollution. One way AFBF hopes to
ably beginning in May. aquatic ecosystems by assessing the im- human stresses. avoid that is by finding out when and
The American Farm Bureau Federa- pacts that chemical and physical “That means in-stream water quality where the assessments will occur and
tion wants to ensure that EPA’s testing changes such as contamination by toxic will be related to land use and eco- having individual Farm Bureau mem-
is done correctly and scientifically, and waste, acidification, sedimentation, nomic activity, without any meaning- bers observe the process. Parrish said
that the agency informs the agriculture salinization and temperature have on ful measure of how to relate the activ- that would also help farmers and
industry about what is being tested aquatic life; and (3) the ability to catch ity to water quality,” Parrish explained. ranchers see what they are dealing
and how the testing will be done. fish and the ability of humans and ani- “For example, my grandfather had a with in their local water bodies.
AFBF is asking EPA to brief the indus- mals to safely eat the harvested fish. cornfield that consistently produced “Most farmers want to know about
try about its plans. The initiative is designed to take a over 150 bushels of corn per acre and the health of the natural resources in
“We believe that scientific monitor- one-time snapshot of in-stream water that cornfield just happened to border their area,” he said.
ing of streams is a good thing,” said quality and associate it with human- his cow pasture. If he had used EPA’s Other Farm Bureau concerns include
Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of induced stresses. Parrish said his re- methodology, he could have concluded who is going to be doing the testing,
regulatory relations. “Whether there is view of the agency’s project plan indi- that his cow pasture was the reason his whether they will use the same meth-
good news or bad news about a stream’s cates that the streams assessment can cornfield was so productive when, in ods and the fact that there is little to
health, we think farmers would rather scientifically achieve one of those two fact, the cow pasture probably had no baseline data to indicate whether
know about it. We are just learning, goals. EPA has detailed the scientific nothing to do with it. stream health is improving, getting
however, about this initiative and procedures it plans to use to measure “Can anyone reach his hand or sci- worse or staying about the same.
Budget should lead to death tax repeal; protect farm bill
The next federal budget should ensure Protecting or extending planned tax House leaders, meanwhile, sup- limitations in mid-season would be
that the federal death tax gets perma- cuts was the major point of contention ported pay-go enforcement for spend- unfair and harmful to farm families
nently repealed and leave the 2002 in the budget negotiations. In crafting ing increases, but not tax cuts. But the and rural communities.”
farm bill and other agricultural pro- its version of the spending plan, the gap between the two chambers was Stallman also urged the conferees to
grams intact, Farm Bureau told con- Senate approved an amendment reviv- not all procedural: the House voted for reject the House provision that would
gressional negotiators who were trying ing the “pay-go” (pay-as-you-go) provi- $138 billion in tax cuts; the Senate cut agricultural spending by $371 mil-
to reach agreement on the fiscal 2005 sion of the ’90s, which means lawmak- voted for just $80.6 billion. lion. The proposed cut, he noted,
budget resolution last week. ers are supposed to provide offsets for If the final spend-and-tax blueprint would threaten conservation pro-
“Permanent death tax repeal is a pri- any spending increase or tax cut that tilts toward the Senate figure, it will grams, ag research, rural development
ority for Farm Bureau,” said American could increase the deficit. make it difficult to enact all the hoped- and global hunger relief efforts.
Farm Bureau Federation President In other words, if you want a tax for tax cuts, such as full and perma- Congress is supposed to produce a
Bob Stallman in a letter to the House- cut, you must cut spending elsewhere. nent death tax repeal. final budget resolution by April 15,
Senate conference committee work- Or if you want to increase spending, On the farm program front, Farm although it often misses the deadline.
ing on the budget. “We urge a budget raise taxes somewhere else. To com- Bureau urged the budget conferees to Since it serves as the roadmap for con-
resolution that sets aside funds for pound the problem, the amendment reject tighter payment limitations that gressional actions on appropriations
death tax repeal legislation under requires 60 senators to vote to override were included in the Senate version. and taxes, it does not have to be
reconciliation.” the pay-go rule. Stallman said that “changing payment signed by the president.
New tobacco buyout bill
continued from page 1 said earlier this year. “North Carolina’s
as the agriculture appropriations bill rural economy is seeing millions of dol-
this year. lars in tobacco income disappear over-
“They realize it will be difficult if not seas—primarily to Brazil. It is out of
impossible to pass stand-alone legisla- control, and it hurts family farms, rural
tion in an election year, when mem- communities and North Carolina’s eco-
bers are anxious to get out and cam- nomic recovery. The only realistic an-
paign,” Brooks said. “There are only swer to this crisis is a complete buyout
four months until the August recess, so of the existing program.”
time is running out.” Domestic and export demand for
North Carolina is the nation’s top U.S. tobacco has been declining for
tobacco production state, and Larry decades. Higher cigarette taxes due to
Wooten, North Carolina Farm Bureau the settlement of several states’ lawsuit
president, said a tobacco quota buyout against the tobacco industry have
is needed sooner rather than later. The made U.S. cigarettes more expensive
federal government cut the number of and lowered consumption.
tobacco quota acres by more than 10 Meanwhile, the cost for producers to
percent for 2004 because of sluggish buy or lease quota is rising as the Agri-
industry demand for U.S. tobacco. culture Department cuts the demand-
“It’s crisis time on the farm,” Wooten based quota each year. Source: USDA, FSA
April 5, 2004 Farm Bureau news Page 7
STATE FB LINKS
North Carolina farmers get involved in gleaning
One organization has found a way to involvement of its own Sen. Elizabeth food insecurity among U.S. house- trying to reverse those figures.
salvage millions of tons of food to give Dole. Having gleaned alongside other holds rose from 10.7 percent to 11.1 SoSA organizes gleaning events in 18
to the poor at no cost, using the an- volunteers on North Carolina farms, percent from 2001 to 2002. The same states. Volunteers with churches and
cient method of gleaning. The Society she understands and supports SoSA’s time frame also revealed an increase of civic groups comprise the bulk of the
of Saint Andrew (SoSA) heads up a mission to salvage food for the benefit food insecurity associated with hunger workers. Events include picking berries
project that retrieves leftover produce of the needy. from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent. at pick-it-yourself patches after the
from harvested fields and delivers it to “Instead of allowing this food to go For example, on a typical day in picking season. One event harvested
the needy. to waste, the Society of St. Andrew, a November 2002, between 517,000 citrus fruit from the backyards of Flor-
This month’s North Carolina Farm national faith-based non-profit organi- and 775,000 households contained at ida residents, who otherwise found the
Bureau Leader features a story on zation, is using it to feed the hungry. least one person hungry because the fallen fruits on their lawn a nuisance.
SoSA’s “The Gleaning Network” and The Society of St. Andrew is incredibly household could not afford food. SoSA salvaged 60,000 pounds of citrus
how North Carolinians have been in- efficient and provides for one of our Meanwhile, USDA reported that up to with this event alone.
volved with the organization since most basic human needs,” Sen. Dole one-fifth of America’s food goes to The Society of Saint Andrew is a
1992. Farmers allow volunteers with said. waste each year. The Journal of the Christian ministry created in 1979
the project to take the produce that According to SoSA, millions of tons American Dietetic Association said in with goals of delivering food and serv-
remains in their fields after a harvest. of edible produce are left in fields after 2002 that of all the food wasted in ing the hungry. “The Gleaning Net-
The Leader says that the economy is harvesting for a number of market rea- the United States, approximately 20 work” is one of three hunger-advocacy
affected by the project because not sons. “The Gleaning Network” sal- percent was fresh produce. SoSA is projects undertaken by SoSA.
only do the needy benefit by receiv- vaged and delivered 28.5 million serv-
ing the free food, but farmers, pack- ings of that produce to 900,000 fami-
ers and shippers save the cost of lies in 2003 alone. FB NEWSMAKERS
○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
dumping their excess produce and The Agriculture Department’s Eco-
materials. nomic Research Service said in its most Hiram E. Davis Jr., vice president of vice president of Associated Country
Important to North Carolina is the recent report on U.S. food security that Mississippi Farm Bureau since 1996, Women of the World. She also served
died March 10 at the age of 56. Davis in the Mississippi legislature. She
was an active Farm Bureau member, the received the MFBF Distinguished Ser-
AFBF welcomes new staff, promotes Wolff first vice president of Mississippi Farm vice Award in 1992 and the American
Julie Anna Potts tion that Bob Shepard is leaving in or- Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., a district Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished
joined the der to become Minnesota Farm Bu- director for three years, president of Gre- Service Award in 1993. AFBF has cre-
American Farm reau’s chief administrator. Wolff has nada County Farm Bureau and was ated an agricultural education fund in
Bureau Federa- served as senior serving on the county’s Farm Bureau honor of White and Linda Reinhardt of
tion April 5 as director of lead- Board and on the board of Southern Kansas, and the MFBF board of direc-
general counsel. ership develop- Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. tors has established a Berta Lee White
She replaced ment for the Davis was also a member of the Missis- Scholarship fund.
John Rade- last seven years. sippi Cattlemen’s Association, the Amer-
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has
macher, who re- Prior to join- ican Soybean Association and the Delta
named Rocky Black as director of
tired in January. ing AFBF, Wolff Council.
state legislative affairs. Black will
For the last was the director Chair of the Mississippi Farm Bureau represent the interests of Farm Bureau
four years, Potts Potts of training at Federation Women’s Committee, Berta members with the Ohio General Assem-
was an associate Pennsylvania Lee White, 89, died March 9. White held bly and state government agencies. He
with the law firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe Farm Bureau for her chair position for 47 years and was was previously managing owner of
and Maw, where she represented AFBF two years. chair of the American Farm Bureau Public Policy Solutions, a government
on federal regulations concerning con- Wolff earned Federation Women’s Committee for 12 affairs consulting company, and has
centrated animal feeding operations, a master’s degree in organization de- years. She also served as a chair of the served as Gov. George Voinovich’s chief
water quality and other environmental velopment from Loyola University and Country Women’s Council U.S.A. and as liaison with the General Assembly.
issues. She also advised clients on legis- a bachelor’s degree in English from
lative, regulatory and public relations Penn State University. She grew up on
strategies concerning the regulatory ac- a dairy farm in western Pennsylvania.
tions of the Environmental Protection She and her husband, Marty, live in
Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engi- the Washington, D.C., area.
neers and the Surface Transportation Terrence
Board. Nowlin joined
Prior to joining Mayer, Brown, Potts AFBF April 1 as
served as an associate in the environ- assistant editor
mental and litigation practice groups of Farm Bureau
with the Sonnenschein, Nath and News.
Rosenthal law firm and as a law clerk Nowlin will
in the U.S. District Court for the Dis- be responsible
trict of Columbia. for writing and
Potts will represent AFBF in judicial, photography, as
administrative and regulatory matters, well as assisting
and she will serve as a member of the with the layout Nowlin
AFBF management team. She earned of the paper.
her law degree from George Washing- Prior to joining AFBF, Nowlin
ton University in Washington, D.C. worked on the public affairs staff of
She is a native of Alabama, where her the University of Georgia, where he re-
family continues to own farmland. She ceived his master’s degree in mass State visits
and her husband, Parks Shackelford, communication last December. A group of New York Farm Bureau leaders visited Washington, D.C., last week
have 13-month-old twin daughters Nowlin is a native of Stuart, Va., and to lobby their congressional delegation and hear the latest information about
and live in Arlington, Va. earned his bachelor’s degree in media a range of agricultural issues. NYFB is one of several state Farm Bureaus that
Effective May 1, AFBF is promoting arts and design from James Madison are sending members to the nation’s capital for this year’s American Farm
Margee Wolff to the position of direc- University in May 2002. He currently Bureau Federation “state visits.”
tor of leadership development, a posi- resides in Alexandria, Va.
Page 8 Farm Bureau news April 5, 2004
Food prices rise in first quarter Corn plantings
Retail prices for food at the supermar- • Bacon, up 9 cents to $3.00 per flat, soybeans up
ket rose in the first quarter of 2004, pound; The number of acres the Agricul-
according to the latest American Farm • Mayonnaise, up 7 cents to $3.27 ture Department expects farmers
Bureau Federation marketbasket per 32-oz. jar; to plant in corn this year is up
survey. • Russet potatoes, up 6 cents to only about 250,000 acres from
The informal survey on the total cost $1.96 per pound; 2003, compared with earlier esti-
of 16 basic grocery items showed an • Bread, up 5 cents to $1.36 per 20- mates that corn plantings would
increase of $2.41 from the 2003 fourth oz. loaf; and increase by more than 1 million
quarter survey. The $39.84 average • Sirloin tip roast, up 2 cents to acres.
paid by volunteer shoppers for the 16 $3.52 per pound. Meanwhile, USDA estimates this
items is also $3.78 higher than the Two items showed decreases in aver- year’s soybean acreage at 2 million
2003 first quarter survey average of age price. After rising 26 cents in the higher than last year’s acreage.
$36.06. fourth quarter of 2003, milk dropped 2 Even with good yield, corn pro-
While survey averages have in- cents to $2.87 per gallon. After rising duction is likely to be less than
creased over the last year, food re- 29 cents in the fourth quarter of 2003, current projected demand for
mains affordable overall. Since its in- ground chuck dropped 1 cent to $2.48 2004-2005. Carryover stocks in the
ception in 1989, the AFBF marketbask- per pound. next crop year are expected to
et survey average has increased at a After dropping 1 cent in the fourth drop by another 140 million bush-
rate lower than other cost-of-living quarter of 2003, toasted oat cereal re- els from already tight stocks pro-
increases. mained the same in price, at $3.00 per jections. That means prices for all
Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 in- Francl said a substantial portion of 10-oz. box. feed grains could go up, according
creased, two decreased and one re- the increase in overall food prices can Despite steady increases in grocery to an American Farm Bureau Fed-
mained the same in average price be attributed to the general upward store average prices over time, the eration analysis of USDA’s quar-
compared to the 2003 fourth quarter trend in energy prices, which directly share of the average food dollar re- terly grain stocks report, released
survey. affects costs associated with food proc- ceived by America’s farm and ranch March 31.
Vegetable oil showed the largest in- essing and distribution. families has actually dropped. Terry Francl, AFBF senior econo-
crease, up 48 cents to $2.76 per 32-oz. After falling 21 cents in the fourth “This reflects a long-standing trend,” mist, the author of the analysis,
bottle, followed closely by corn oil, up quarter of 2003, flour rose 28 cents, to said Francl. “Thirty years ago farmers said the latest projections are a bit
46 cents to $3.09 per 32-oz. bottle. $1.62 per 5-pound bag. received one-third of consumer retail surprising, since corn has set yield
“The higher vegetable oil prices re- Other items that increased in price food expenditures.” records lately while soybean yields
flect the impact of drastically reduced included: According to the most recent Agri- have been below par. But, he said,
domestic and international stocks of • Apples, up 24 cents to $1.22 per culture Department statistics, Amer- one reason for the relatively flat
soybeans and the resulting upward pound; ica’s farmers and ranchers receive just corn plantings could be the higher
pressure on soybean oil prices,” said • Whole fryers, up 22 cents to $1.24 19 cents out of every dollar spent for cost of fuel and anhydrous ammo-
AFBF Senior Economist Terry Francl. per pound; food. Using that across-the-board per- nia fertilizer. Natural gas, which is
“This upward trend in vegetable oil • Pork chops, up 19 cents to $3.42 centage, the farmer’s share of this in short supply, is the main com-
prices at the retail level will likely con- per pound; quarter’s marketbasket average total ponent of nitrogen fertilizer. Farm-
tinue, as carry-over soybean stocks at • Eggs, up 19 cents to $1.57 per would be about $7.57. ers can switch to soybeans, which
the end of this crop year (Sept. 1) are dozen; AFBF conducts its informal quarterly don’t need nitrogen fertilizer and
projected to be the lowest in more • Cheddar cheese, up 9 cents to marketbasket survey as a tool to reflect require less fuel to complete the
than 25 years.” $3.46 per pound; retail food price trends. growing cycle.
Other findings in USDA’s report
USDA unveils rural outreach initiative include 900,000 more cotton acres
than projected earlier and 2.2 mil-
lion fewer acres of wheat.
The Agriculture Department recently on its programs. The department
unveiled a new branding strategy to hopes its new branding strategy will
help the public identify its rural devel- remedy that problem.
opment agencies and programs. The de- John Dorr, the department’s former
partment is applying one brand, USDA under secretary for rural development,
Rural Development, to the agencies last year hosted a meeting of 600 of
that provide some $17 billion a year in the agency’s managers to talk about
loans, grants and technical assistance Both REA and FmHA used to have the importance of marketing to the
for the development of rural housing, strong identities. REA is known for agency’s outreach efforts. They devel-
business and community infrastructure. bringing electricity to some of the oped a new branding strategy and a
While the rural development mis- nation’s most rural areas from the new logo for the agency. The logo has
sion area at the department will con- 1940s through the 1960s. FmHA, a new tagline, “Committed to the fu-
tinue to consist of a handful of indi- which provided financing for low-in- ture of rural communities.” The new
vidual agencies—the Rural Housing come people to buy homes, used to logo and tagline communicate a “clear,
Service, the Rural Business-Cooperative have offices in 1,700 of the 3,000 clean and positive brand position for
Service and the Rural Utilities Service— counties in the country and was a very USDA Rural Development and our mis-
they will now have a more unified recognizable brand, according to sion to increase economic opportunity
identity for outreach purposes. USDA. FmHA also provided farm and improve the quality of life in rural
The department’s current rural de- loans, but the Farm Service Agency America,” the agency said.
velopment agencies and programs took over that responsibility as part of An agency guide on the new brand-
FARM BUREAU NEWS
have had a somewhat fragmented the reorganization. ing strategy states, “By helping evoke
identity since they were created during Today’s 800 Rural Development of- images of idyllic small towns, where
a reorganization of USDA 10 years ago. fices are located in what’s called people pursue a quality of life based on
Before then, the agencies were known “USDA Service Centers,” with little or trust, honesty, family, a strong work
as the Farmers Home Administration no identification specific to the mis- ethic and respect, being Committed to
(FmHA), the Rural Development Ad- sion area. The department said that the Future of Rural Communities is
ministration and the Rural Electrifica- lack of identity has created challenges being committed to basic American
tion Administration (REA). in providing information and outreach values worth protecting.”