May 30, 2014
FARMERS SOUGHT TO DEMONSTRATE PRIORITY OF AG ISSUES The public policy team is looking for farmers who are willing to share information about their farm and family to demonstrate to legislators the need to address farmland taxes, annexation and a broad spectrum of water issues. If you are interested in sharing information that could be helpful in telling the farm story, please contact Megan Ritter or Bob White. We will select a broad range of members to highlight, including large farms, small farms, corn/soybean growers, livestock producers, specialty crops/retail agriculture and everything in between.
BOAH ACCEPTING COMMENTS ON ANIMAL DISEASE TRACEABILITY RULE The Indiana State Board of Animal Health is accepting comments on proposed rule changes to align the state with the USDA's Animal Disease Traceability program. The primary purpose of the changes is to conform BOAH’s rules to the new United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service livestock traceability requirements. BOAH also seeks to amend and clarify identification and documentation rules governing interstate and intrastate movement of livestock. See a summary of the changes. Please contact Amy Cornell or Greg Slipher for more information.
IFB PLANS RESPONSE TO PROPOSED EPA CLEAN WATER ACT RULE On March 25, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule that would assert CWA jurisdiction over nearly all areas with any hydrologic connection to downstream navigable waters, including man-made conveyances such as ditches. This rule, if implemented, would directly contradict prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which imposed limits on the extent of federal CWA authority, and it would bypass Congress and supersede its original intent of the law. The rule is flawed in a number of ways. The most problematic of these flaws concerns the significant expansion of areas defined as “waters of the U.S.” by effectively removing the word navigable from the definition of the CWA and creating ambiguity in interpretation.
See a website for the campaign that Indiana Farm Bureau has developed and additional information from American Farm Bureau Federation on the rule.
We also need your help in collecting photos to show the expansive reach of the proposed rule. Please send your before-and-after photos of ditches and swales, ponding in driveways, water flowing in gullies on hillsides (preferably with a ditch or creek in the background) and flooded lawns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in getting more involved in the campaign, beyond photos or submitting individual comments to the EPA, please contact Kyle Cline or Justin Schneider. Examples of local activities during the months of June and July include:
- Hosting a tool shed meeting.
- Coordinating the development of comments.
- Recruiting others to help with the campaign.
- Contacting your congressman/congresswoman.
- Offering to do an interview for a farmer profile.
- Targeted social media.
CONGRESS PASSES WRRDA After recently reaching an agreement on the final conference report, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved H.R. 3080 (the Water Resources Reform and Development Act), which will provide much-needed improvements to U.S. inland waterways and port infrastructure.
The water infrastructure bill passed the House by a vote of 412-4 with 15 members not voting. All nine representatives from Indiana’s delegation voted in favor of the bill. In the Senate, the bill passed 91-7 with two not voting, including Indiana Sen. Dan Coats. Sen. Donnelly supported the bill. Rep. Todd Young (R-District 9) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-District 7), who both serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, provided leadership and critical support throughout the committee process to ensure success.
The bill contains the majority of Farm Bureau’s priorities, including improvements to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The final bill sets the minimum authorization levels for the HMTF and requires 100 percent of funds to be spent on port infrastructure improvements by 2025. The IWTF federalizes 85 percent of the costs associated with the Olmsted Locks and Dam project. This is an increase from a current 50/50 split between federal dollars and funds from the IWTF. The bipartisan bill is estimated to cost $12.3 billion over the next 10 years and will create jobs and streamline the planning and approval process for water projects. At the same time, the bill will save about $6 billion through these and other measures. The bill now goes to President Obama for final signature.
See a section-by-section breakdown of the bill.
Members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress who voted for WRRDA to thank them for their support on this priority issue.
IFB COLLECTING SIGNATURES FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM LETTER Something that we hear often during our Hill visits is that the desire to see immigration reform pass this year does not translate to the ground level and that only the national advocacy groups are speaking up. To help combat that, the Indiana Farm Bureau and Indiana Dairy Producers, working in conjunction with the Ag Workforce Coalition, have co-authored an important letter that we would like to send to the Indiana delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging for immigration reform this year. The deadline to sign the letter is Friday, June 6.
It is very important that our farmers and industry continue to put pressure on Congress to tackle this priority issue and explain how critical it is for our agriculture producers, industry and consumers. We are asking that individual members sign the letter today to send a clear ag-specific message to Washington to take action on immigration reform.
If you would like to sign the letter to urge Congress to take action on immigration reform, please email Kyle Cline with your name, city and farm name/organizational affiliation.