Priority Issues

The following priorities will set the course for Arizona Farm Bureau's Government Relations team in 2023.    

The Arizona Farm Bureau works diligently to find opportunities to embed our policy into legislation and regulation. Over the next year, we will focus our lobbying and government relations efforts on the following priority areas:

Protecting Agriculture’s Access to Water and Power: Water Use is not Water Waste

  • Colorado River: To continue outreach on and surface solutions for challenges faced by shortages on the Colorado River, we will:
    1. Unite our organization and partners across the nation to portray a united message that agricultural water use must be protected to maintain secure levels of food production. Solutions that lead to food insecurity are not solutions at all.
    2. Equip irrigation districts and other eligible entities to participate in funding programs through the Bureau of Reclamation, USDA, and other available resources.
    3. Advocate for funding programs that will keep agricultural economies and communities afloat.
    4. Oppose efforts to transfer on-river agricultural entitlements of the Colorado River to off-river municipalities. 
  • Rural Groundwater: Work diligently to uphold the principles set forth in our policy as articulated by the Rural Groundwater Working Group report and continue to oppose attempts to regulate rural groundwater through emotion, rather than science. Find ways to encourage responsible water use consistent with the needs of agricultural and other economic drivers in rural Arizona. 
  • Management Areas: Continue advocating against the imposition of Active Management Areas and Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas in rural Arizona. If subsequent groundwater regulations are imposed, work with the Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Legislature to make sure there is transparency and accountability in the administration of those areas. 
  • WOTUS: Ensure agriculture’s perspective is heard and heeded in the next round of WOTUS rule promulgation, and fight against EPA’s efforts to codify a new rule prior to the outcome of the pending Supreme Court decision. 
  • Hydropower: Monitor and participate in consultations regarding the generation of hydropower in times of drought to ensure that agriculture’s access to affordable power is protected. 
  • Adjudications: Fight for agricultural water users to maintain their historic water rights in the face of ongoing surface water adjudication. Continue participation in the Upper Gila River Alliance. Continue pushing forward solutions for the issues of forfeiture and subflow. 

The Farm Bill 

  • Overarching Principles:
    1. Maintain current funding levels for Farm Bill programs 
    2. Maintain a unified farm bill that includes nutrition programs and farm programs together; 
    3. Prioritize risk management tools that include federal crop insurance and commodity programs;
    4. Ensure adequate USDA staffing and resources to provide technical assistance.
  • Mexican Gray Wolf Depredation Compensation: As part of the Farm Bill, pass legislation improving the formula for wolf depredation compensation so that it adequately addresses the impacts that introduction of this species has had on cattle and the continued success of Arizona’s ranchers.
  • Making Risk Management Work for the West: When revising disaster assistance programs, advocate for safety net programs that recognize regional differences such as ongoing drought, widespread use of irrigation, and specialty crops.

Arizona Department of Agriculture

  • Resources: Advocate for a department with adequate staffing and resources to fulfill its critical mission of keeping agricultural products safe for consumers.
  • Meat Processing: Find opportunities to expand livestock producer access to locally based State and USDA inspected processing facilities, including through the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Agreement. 
  • Bovine Trichomoniasis: Convene a committee of producers, veterinarians, and auction industry representatives to develop a proposal to modify and strengthen the current trich testing rules and requirements.  

State and Federal Lands: 

  • Fire Response: Work with state and federal agencies to optimize wildfire response by moving away from “managed fire” strategy and toward full suppression. Help improve recovery programs that minimize the financial and physical burdens of fires on ranches. 
  • Public Lands Grazing: Continue communication with federal agencies about the need to protect and facilitate grazing for optimal resource management and food security.
  • Recreational Damage: Work closely with the newly established OHV legislative study committee, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the US Forest Service, the State Land Department, and other land management agencies to promote good neighbor etiquette, prevent damage to public lands, and improve the public’s relationship with ranchers. 

Ag Labor

  • Visa Reform and H-2A: Work with our Congressional delegation to amend current efforts to reform agricultural labor visas. Oppose legislation that does not provide for reasonable, competitive wages, exposes farm employers to extensive additional legal liability, fails to include year-round visas, or imposes E-Verify to agriculture’s competitive disadvantage.

Industry Fairness:

  • Cattle Markets: Fight for better transparency in cattle markets. Work to find policy or regulatory fixes that ensure producers receive a fair price for their cattle. 
  • Frivolous Lawsuits: Provide resources and policy support so our members can protect their operations from unnecessary and frivolous lawsuits.
  • Produce Safety: Work with Congress to ensure that regulatory agencies like the FDA do not overstep the bounds of their authority during an outbreak investigation. Demand accountability when FDA prematurely releases damaging information about a grower or producer without adequate verification. Ensure produce growers continue to have access to insurance coverage, and we will seek out ways to ensure continued coverage for these producers.