The right to repair equipment, the Farm Bill and general farm policy were among policy resolutions discussed and approved by farmers and ranchers from across the nation during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee.
Texas cotton farmers have support from the national Farm Bureau organization to include cottonseed and/or cotton lint as a Title I commodity in the 2018 Farm Bill. The designation makes the commodity eligible for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage farm programs.
“We submitted national policy language that calls for the inclusion of cotton as a Title I commodity in the 2018 Farm Bill so cotton farmers have the same risk management tools as other covered commodities,” says Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening. “Cotton is a major crop in Texas, and this is an important policy goal for our organization.”
Delegates supported policy that gives farmers an option to select either a program through the Farm Bill that provides protection against a decline in milk price or a decline in milk margin. It increases the margin level from $4 to $5 and maintains the ability to buy up to $8 margin coverage.
The policy also supported increasing coverage from 4 million pounds of milk to 5 million pounds of milk for all dairy farmers.
“The Dairy Margin Protection Program isn’t working, and we think this is a better solution,” Boening says.
Texas delegates led the effort to firmly establish that farmers and ranchers have the right to repair their equipment. The overwhelming vote also supported an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for the repair of agricultural vehicles.
“Farmers and ranchers can run into increased costs and time lost while waiting for an equipment dealer to diagnose and fix a problem,” Boening says.
The policy supports allowing owners and independent repair facilities to have access to the same agricultural equipment diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers, dealers and authorized repair facilities.
Other Topics Addressed
Delegates also adopted a policy supporting the use of insulated wire in equipment or autos that is repellent to pests, such as rodents and fire ants. In addition, delegates adopted policy submitted by TFB that opposes monopolistic non-compete clauses among farm equipment dealers.
Commercial farming and ranching practices are often targeted by non-agricultural groups. National delegates voted to oppose any program guidelines set to further those entities’ agendas.
Farms and ranches in Texas and across the nation face labor shortages. Delegates supported changes to policy to reduce the H-2A waiting period because of lack of local labor interested and to eliminate the newspaper advertising requirement. This stipulation has yielded few job placements, proving to be an expensive and inefficient process.
AFBF delegates supported the negotiation and implementation of a revised Softwood Lumber Agreement to protect U.S. timber producers from Canadian imports subsidized by their government.
Boening says the mood, despite the poor farm economy, is positive for agriculture.
“We had a lot of consensus on many issues,” he says. “The farm economy isn’t the best, but our outlook is positive. Our willingness to work together across the country will only help us as we look to another Farm Bill and face regulatory issues this year.”
The Texas Farm Bureau contributed this article.