Federal Edition
 
A group of nine AFR members spent the second week of September in our nation's capital working on agriculture, transportation and insurance topics in Congress. Despite the lack of progress in 2017 on most critical issues, the mood in Washington D.C. was a calm one. Many leaders within USDA have yet to be appointed and the committee chairs on Capitol Hill are still trying to figure out the new occupants of the White House.


Dollars-and-Cents
Immigration, tax reform and health care are certainly all relevant topics in D.C. right now, but the only thing that will assuredly work its way through the 2017 Congress is federal spending. The president laid out a budget blueprint this spring that proposed devastating cuts to USDA and its mission. We visited with the Oklahoma Congressional delegation about the importance of maintaining programs and activities that are critical for rural communities and the agriculture economy. Their responses were positive, but we will continue our push to preserve these AFR priorities.
International Trade
The ag economy was a central component of our discussion in each office, focusing on the importance of maintaining trade in key markets around the world. The current national political news is full of talk about renegotiating NAFTA and the promise of strong bilateral deals in populous Asian countries. It is paramount at times like these to remind our leaders that U.S. agriculture has maintained an annual trade surplus for over 50 years, totaling $139.8 billion in FY 2017. Our industry has much at stake across the globe and must be considered a high priority in all international negotiations.
2018 Farm Bill 
The current Farm Bill is set to expire next fall, so work is underway in both the House and Senate Ag Committees to craft a new version of this fundamental piece of American agriculture policy. AFR met with representatives from both ends of the capitol and from both sides of the aisle to provide input. While many different views were kicked around, the consistent theme from staff members was that funding in 2018 would be limited. With a deeply divided Congress struggling to find consensus on any major legislation, it is going to be an uphill climb for a fully funded reauthorization  of the Farm Bill.  Now more than ever it is important to educate our friends and neighbors about the good work Oklahoma agriculture producers do, the efficient way we produce food for the world and the positive impact our industry has on the overall economy.
Here at Home
Looking ahead to the last week of September, things will once again come alive at the state capitol as Governor Fallin will convene a special legislative session to address the budget. This move was necessitated by a state Supreme Court ruling in August that $200 million in cigarette taxes were approved in an unconstitutional manner by the legislature. Republican leaders have announced they will again seek approval for the cigarette tax. However, without much hope that the votes will be there to pass such a measure, further cuts to state agencies seem likely.

 

For more information contact:

 

Steve Thompson |  steve.thompson@afrmic.com | 405-218-5563

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