Priority Issues

Priority Issues

The following priorities will set the course for Arizona Farm Bureau's Government Relations team in 2020.

 

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:

  • We will continue to support agricultural water users as they fight to maintain their historic water rights in the face of ongoing surface water adjudication. (AZFB p. 55)
  • We will continue our participation in the Upper Gila River Alliance. We will work with state and federal officials to find a way forward that ends the burdensome and unnecessary litigation against farmers while also providing a clean, safe, and reliable source of water to the San Carlos Apache tribe. (AZFB p. 67)
  • We will work to find a way forward for wells adjudicated as existing in a subflow zone by assigning a priority date of beneficial use to protect and preserve the water right associated with that well.  (AZFB 55)
  • We will work with all parties to find a way to mitigate the losses to Pinal County Agriculture that resulted from Arizona’s participation in the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). We will create programming and build relationships that contribute to the success of the Pinal County irrigation districts’ application for federal funding to assist in improving and expanding well infrastructure. (AZFB p. 73-74)
  • In light of the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule, we will advocate for a Clean Water Rule that does not impose the same burden on farmers and ranchers. We will work with Arizona’s water and environmental regulators to make sure that any state water regulations are similarly clear, logical, and no more burdensome than necessary.
  • We will be vocal and active in our participation on the Governor’s Water Augmentation, Innovation, and Conservation Council. As leaders from across the state work to determine the Arizona’s future water management strategies, we will make sure that agriculture’s voice is heard.  

Taxes:

  • We will work to protect agricultural land from being over-taxed by uninformed or overzealous County Assessors. (AZFB p. 128-136)
  • We will find opportunities to work with cities and towns who have adopted a sales tax on livestock feed to conform to the state code, which exempts feed from sales tax. (AZFB p. 130-132)

Arizona Department of Agriculture:

  • We will work to bring the Livestock Loss Board under the purview of the Department of Agriculture in order to provide more meaningful opportunities for compensating and mitigating the damage that predators cause to our livestock herds
  • Employees at the Department of Agriculture play a crucial part in our industry and in keeping Arizona’s consumers safe. We will advocate for a competitive wage for these employees in order to allow the Department to recruit and keep qualified people for these essential roles.

Removing Transportation Burdens:

  • We will continue to support flexible, realistic, and practical rules for hauling livestock and perishable agricultural commodities, and oppose the mandatory use of electronic logging devices and hours of service restrictions on these haulers. (AFBF 125.1.28-38)
  • We will publish an updated version of the Farm Bureau Transportation Handbook to better inform and assist our members. (AZFB p. 163-167)

Preventing Bureaucracy from Inhibiting Progress

  • We will continue to fight for meaningful reforms to the Endangered Species Act. (AZFB p. 38-44)
  • We will work with NRCS, the Arizona State Land Department, the State Historic Preservation Office and the State Museum to pinpoint the reason for the detrimental backlog of archeological clearances for conservation projects. We will work with our members to facilitate solutions to the backlog so that these essential projects can move forward.
  • We will work to help our members protect their operations from unnecessary and frivolous lawsuits. (AZFB p. 153)
  • We will make a concerted effort to look for opportunities to expand livestock producer access to USDA inspected processing facilities.

Ag Labor:

  • AZFB remains committed to visa reform and programs to provide our members access to workers willing to work in agriculture. We will work with our Congressional delegation to amend current efforts to reform the program to ensure these efforts:
    • Provide for a reasonable, competitive wage that does not price employers out of the H-2A program
    • Do not expose farm employers to the extensive additional legal liability imposed by placing H-2A workers under the protection of the Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA)
    • Include year round visas are in a number that will provide meaningful relief to the ag industry
    • Provide employers with a legitimate guest worker program prior to imposing E-Verify requirements on those employers
    • (AFBF § 137)

Trade:

  • We will urge swift ratification of the US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and other free trade agreements. (AFBF § 252)
  • We will devote time and resources to exploring new, emerging markets for Arizona agricultural products through continued participation in the Arizona/Mexico Coalition and Western United States Agricultural Trade Association. (AFBF § 252)

Industry Fairness

  • We will work with Congress to ensure that regulatory agencies like the FDA do not overstep the bounds of their authority during an investigation. There must be accountability when FDA prematurely releases damaging information about a grower or producer without adequate verification. (AFBF § 340.13)
  • As plant-based meat alternatives and cell-cultured meat options become more popular and more available, we will make sure that traditional agriculture products are competing on a level playing field. We will push for clear and accurate labeling of alt-meat products and place an increased focus on the benefits of traditional animal protein.

*Page and policy numbers refer to the 2020 edition of the Arizona Farm Bureau policy book (AZFB) and the American Farm Bureau policy book (AFBF).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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