With current and potential legislation posing a threat to specific policies passed under the Trump administration, America’s farmers made certain their voices would be heard this year.
The chorus of concerns was received by American Farm Bureau Federation
, confirmed Sam Kieffer, AFBF vice president of public affairs. And, with its members’ interests in mind, he said, the organization is working diligently with the Biden administration to ensure favorable agricultural policies are upheld.
Kieffer spoke Dec. 1 to participants in Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2021 Annual Convention
in Williamsburg and provided an update on AFBF’s work in Washington.
Appointed to his role in January, Kieffer said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the amount of communication he and his staff have had with the Biden administration. He noted lines of communication with lawmakers are constantly open, something he attributed to the relationship Farm Bureau has built with previous administrations.
Kieffer explained AFBF’s initial concern was spending priorities, which had the potential to negatively impact farmers. To pay for additional spending, he added, the U.S. government would have looked to increase capital gains taxes and eliminate stepped-up basis provisions.
While a reconciliation bill still is under consideration, Kieffer said U.S. agricultural producers have been key in ensuring the legislation will not be “paid for on the backs of farmers.” Through bipartisan work, including Rep. [Abigail] Spanberger from Virginia, he noted, a group of Democrats in Congress helped assert that that approach “isn’t going to fly,” Kieffer noted.
“That wasn’t because of folks like me who wear a suit and tie to work every day. That was because of folks like you back home having conversations with your elected officials and their staff, and letting them know what would and would not work on your farms.”
He also noted AFBF is working with legislators to improve infrastructure, which would help facilitate the movement of agricultural goods domestically and abroad. Broadband expansion in rural areas also remains a priority.
As climate change persists as a hot-button issue in Congress, American Farm Bureau is continuing to advocate for U.S. farmers to be an important part of the solution, Keiffer said.
AFBF, along with environmental groups and other agricultural groups, formed the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance in 2020. FACA provided 40 policy recommendations that would help lawmakers ensure that proposed climate goals are reached, and allow farms to remain financially stable as they work toward meeting environmental goals.
“For the first time in my memory, the conversation in Washington is no longer blaming farmers for the climate,” Kieffer said. “Rather, they’re seeing farm families and farming as one of the solutions to addressing climate issues.”
Kieffer also discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule; farm labor shortages; and supply chain issues.
He concluded his address by thanking Virginia farmers for their unrelenting work at the grassroots level, and for engaging with their representatives to move agriculture forward.
“When my team and I go to Capitol Hill, we’re not the ones carrying the water,” Kieffer remarked. “You all have broad shoulders, and it’s your voice we’re relaying to your elected officials. It’s our honor to do that, and we keep that in the back of our minds—it’s not just a job, it’s a privilege.”
With 132,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry. View more convention news as it becomes available at vafb.com/convention
, and follow us on social media via #VFBFannualmtg21.
Contact Pam Wiley
, vice president of communications, at 804-291-6315.