Ag rates Obama’s State of the Union speech

American Farm Bureau Federation

The president set out his 2012 agenda in his State of the Union address. American Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy explains where agriculture fit into that agenda in this report from AFBF’s Johnna Miller

Miller: American Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Mark Maslyn says it was good to hear the president talk extensively about an issue really important to farmers…renewable energy.

Maslyn: Particularly ethanol and biodiesel are issues of concern to agriculture. We’ve seen in just a few years the political sentiment on the Hill has changed quite dramatically and we feel that they’re somewhat under attack right now. So those words and the importance that his administration puts on those issues were reassuring. It would have been nice if he had specifically mentioned ethanol and biodiesel, but I think the message was clear.

Miller: The president also spoke about immigration reform. Maslyn says that was good to hear, since an adequate labor supply is a huge concern for farmers and ranchers.

Maslyn: We want to see a solution to this problem and right now, unfortunately, I think there are still folks who would rather have the issue than a solution, but it was important that the president mentioned that. He did and we’re appreciative of that. We’re going to continue to work to see that that remains a high profile issue.

Miller: Unfortunately Maslyn says election year politics will likely put the kibosh on a lot of legislative progress.

Maslyn: The real progress on these issue take shoe leather and compromise and we have divided government now and it just requires a sustained effort and a willingness on both parties to reach across the aisle and find some common ground. It gets very difficult in an election year because people are trying to draw contrasts between themselves and their opponent. “This is what I’m for. This is what he or she is for. And so the temptation to divide rather than unite in a year that’s divisible by two is particularly tempting.

Miller: Johnna Miller, Washington.

Miller: We have two extra actualities with AFBF Director of Public Policy Mark Maslyn. In the first extra actuality he says there was good reason for the president to mention trade in the State of the Union address. The cut runs 16 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Maslyn: He specifically mentioned the importance of trade and the advances made on trade. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in exports and particularly agricultural exports and that’s good news. Exports for agriculture are about a third of our cash receipts in this country and every year we’re setting new records. We want to see those advances continue.

Miller: In the second extra actuality Maslyn says one topic was a warning light of a battle to come for agriculture. The cut runs 26 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Maslyn: He talked about fiscal responsibility and although he didn’t mention them specifically the inference of estate tax and capital gains. That’s a fight that we’ll see later on this year. Preserving the exemption for agriculture in the estate tax debate and maintaining the capital gains rate at the current level of 15 percent are going to be a divisive issue between Congress and the administration later this year, particularly given the prominence of the issue during the Republican primaries that we’ve seen in recent weeks.

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