American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman admitted he was tired when he spoke to members of the media at the close of the 94th annual convention in Nashville, Tenn. But he said he also was pleased with the voting delegates meeting just adjourned.
Stallman said there was not really much debate among the delegates at this year's meeting. However, he listed three key points.
"Since the farm bill is keyed up again the delegate session basically reaffirmed support for policies we already had in place. We retained flexibility to adjust to whatever the process comes up. We did not have much debate, just changed a few words."
Immigration is a key Farm Bureau issue and Stallman said he believes it will be taken up by Congress this year. "Our delegates voted basically to do what we are already trying to do with the Agricultural Work Force Coalition and that is figuring out how to replace or streamline the currently seasonal/temporary worker program and at the same time bring a lot of those who have not been here legally out of the shadows and provide them with the opportunity to obtain visas to work either at will or in contract employment."
Stallman noted that he talked a lot in his opening speech about farm regulatory policy and "our delegates reaffirmed a lot of our long-standing positions that all federal agencies should be held to the strictest interpretation of the law and federal agencies shouldn't legislate regulatory change. They also added this time that we are opposed to using aerial surveillance or satellites to enforce actions."
Cabinet appointments/gun control
When asked about the reappointment of Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture and the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, Stallman said AFBF generally supports the president's cabinet choices. "We have not endorsed anyone but we have a good relationship with Chuck Hagel. He understands rural America.
"We are satisfied with Secretary Vilsack's reappointment. We have a good relationship with him and the department."
Regarding a new nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Stallman said, "Anytime a new cabinet member is confirmed, we reach out and try to develop a relationship."
On gun control, Stallman said, "Our policy is we support the second amendment. We don't see any new restrictions. However, current laws need to be enforced."