By Kevin Rogers, Arizona Farm Bureau President
This past fall’s state and national elections, current state of the economy, the state of Arizona’s budget, continued downward trend of commodity prices and shaky consumer confidence only confirms for me that we need resolve.
Our blueprint must also be flexible to react to these changing times and conditions.
Nationally, we must continue to work on reducing or eliminating the current areas being considered by Congress for Heritage areas in Arizona. Additionally, we must continue to lobby our congressional delegation to retain the term “NAVIGABLE” in the Clean Water Act and stop regulation of irrigation canals and dry river beds.
A reliable and legal labor force continues to be a critical issue and we must attempt a solution to the agricultural worker visa problem. Today’s current situation is unsustainable.
Finally, as an organization we should continue to support legislation that repeals the death tax or sets exemptions high enough to benefit Arizona farm and ranch families. And, we need to support legislation that eases regulations on the movement of agricultural products being hauled by farmers and ranchers across state lines.
At the state level, we will focus on six key areas:
- We will attempt to clarify our statutes on implements of husbandry, commercial drivers license and farm plate requirements,
- We will attempt to reduce the impact on agriculture of Cap and Trade proposals being formulated by the Governor’s office to address Global Warming in the western states,
- We will continue our involvement in the lawsuits involving state trust lands and the sweeps of our grower research and promotion funds,
- We will analyze our continued involvement in the immigration lawsuit after we have exhausted our appeals in the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco,
- We will continue to help the state and specifically Pinal County maneuver effectively through the challenges of EPA’s air quality non-attainment designation,
- We will continue building our outreach to the public and expanding our Ag in the Classroom.
As it relates to public outreach and marketing, we will continue to evaluate ways to connect with the public and engage them as advocates. As an organization we believe that Arizona agriculture is positioned well in the primary grade levels in the schools and our outreach to “foodies” is now well established. But what about the 18 to 49 age group? The public relations and marketing department is exploring these and other opportunities to build on previous successes and challenges.
This is just a sketch of what our blueprint for 2009 will look like. Your new board of directors stands ready to represent you and this great industry. We have hundreds of volunteers at the local level who make a difference for this organization and agriculture every day. Our agency force is on the ground every day talking to members and non-members with a great tool box of products. They understand that the unique company they work for is associated with the Farm Bureau that is in the business of protecting the domestic food production machine we call American Agriculture. 2009 will be a year requiring lots of resolve, but it will certainly be a year worthy of our efforts.
Key Words: Arizona agriculture, Arizona farmers and ranchers, Local Arizona agriculture, sustainable farming in Arizona.