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FARM BUREAU COMMENTS ON STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

"The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes President Obama's call in his State of the Union address for Congress to pass immigration reform. Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force, and, without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor-intensive crops or go off shore.

"Farm Bureau is urging Congress to pass an agriculture labor program with both short- and long-term stability. It's a way to keep our experienced workforce, while making sure we have access to a legal workforce through a streamlined and flexible guest worker program in the future. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food.

"Tax reform is a priority for farmers and ranchers and we welcome the president's comments on this important issue. We believe that any tax reform proposal considered by Congress must be comprehensive. It is critical that it include individual, as well as corporate tax reform. More than 96 percent of farms and 75 percent of farm sales are taxed under IRS provisions which affect individual taxpayers. Any tax reform proposal that fails to include the individual tax code will not help but would likely hurt our nation's farmers and ranchers. These farmers could lose their business deductions, yet they would not benefit from lower corporate rates if only corporate taxes are revised.

"Expanded trade opportunities are vital to America's farmers and ranchers, and we support the president's call for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority. TPA is the catalyst needed to advance U.S. proposals to reduce tariffs and improve market access for farmers and ranchers in trade negotiations. The U.S. market is one of the most open in the world, yet our farmers and ranchers face high tariffs and other noncompetitive practices when they try to export their products. For U.S. agriculture to thrive, we have to correct these disparities and level the playing field.

"To take full advantage of expanded trade opportunities, however, we must upgrade our waterways transportation infrastructure and ports. We appreciate President Obama's charge to Congress to pass a waterways transportation bill this year."


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