By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: Fresh from all the holiday celebrations, it’s now time to redirect our focus and reflect on what’s ahead for 2014 for Arizona agriculture. The Government Relations docket is full so we predict a fast and furious year, just like those that have gone before.

“The best thing about a new year - it’s like a return after a long week-end or a long vacation -  the chance to begin anew,” says Arizona Farm Bureau’s Government Relations Director Joe Sigg.  “But what is different is that you return from vacation alone. With a new year, everyone is available to be on board.”

"For me its about getting a worker visa program in place and I'm still optimistic Congress could get something done," says Arizona Farm Bureau's President Kevin Rogers. "The labor issues impacts our entire agriculture industry. We've got to get something done."

Rogers also shared his excitement for new beginnings. "It's a new year," he said. "I'm ecstatic that Arizona Farm Bureau had growth in membership and various successes all across the board. Our volunteer leadership and our staff continues to shine for our organization and I really appreciate all that everyone does. And, right around the corner is American Farm Bureau Federation's convention; I'm expecting an outstanding event that begins this Saturday." 

Even without visa reform, Arizona Farm Bureau intends to help members with up-to-date and valuable information on labor issues in 2014.

Since 2014 is a midterm election year, your Farm Bureau staff will keep you informed on all politically-related activities on issues and candidates.

Sigg shares his most important focus. “My biggest priority is to insure that all of our members are tuned into the meat of the issues that impact them,” he said. “But more than understanding, I want them to be conversant.  It’s always better when they are the advocates as opposed to me.”

Arizona Farm Bureau highlighted the GOP governor candidates in its January 2014 issue that have declared their candidacy. We’ll also post their comments online.

Below are Arizona Farm Bureau’s priority issues for 2014.

  • We will engage directly on water issues and ensure solutions are tied to local community support. 

  • As directed by policy we will advocate to protect rural Arizona water from water transfers, to protect water rights on farmland, and to require development on land with existing water.

  • We will support adequate funding for the Arizona Department of Water Resources to handle legal challenges, including federal claims and for the agency to do its work to plan and develop water for the future.

  • We will support the University of Arizona College of Agriculture in its need for funding of the new Veterinary School.

  • We will continue to work on limiting expansion of the wolf recovery program.

  • Support efforts to expand the meat inspection services and find new innovative ways to provide state meat inspection service.

  • Very detailed work will continue on air quality programs, especially as it relates to Pinal County.

  • With or without visa reform, we will need to increase information flow to members to navigate all employer related laws and regulations, including health care.

  • 2014 midterms include major statewide elections in Arizona.  Staff will ramp up all politically related activities on issues and candidates.  We need to increase candidate interface with our members using a variety of mediums and venues.

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