Steve Thompson With OKFB Talks Policy and The Upcoming Legislative SessionWed, 29 Jan 2020 18:13:05 CST
Steve Thompson, with Oklahoma Farm Bureau, just got back from Austin for the 2020 AFBF convention policy session.
Thompson says his big takeaway was how hard things are for Ag producers right now, " I think the takeaway that I took was just how tough things are around the country for ag producers and Farm Bureau members. Whether you be a dairy producer, of course, in the upper Midwest, but also if you are a dairy producer in the southeastern states. We know here more about grain and livestock and how difficult some of the commodity markets have been. Nobody seems to be much immune from that, and how fortunate we are to have some of the MFP payments we've had to try to keep going another year. Another crop in the ground, but also, despite that, the trouble is, is how excited they are about some of the trade deals and working on policy to support you know, the President and administration in those strong stances he's taken with other countries and how we want to, you know, keep trying to hold China and other countries feet to the fire on some of these deals — so talking about the struggles in raw commodities and food production. How tough things are in all 50 states but how optimistic they are and how that impacts, what we do, whether we're talking about synthetic foods and competition in the marketplace, or whether we talk about labeling laws and trade both in North America and all over the world.
On the topic of industrial Hemp, it seems farmers are interested in trying to figure out next steps, "The journey with the legalization and development of the hemp industry is ongoing, and seems like every week, every month, we learn something new about that. The states have worked with AFBF to prepare some comments that will actually be going to USDA later on this week. There's still a few kinks, USDA is doing the best they can, as is the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, but haven't quite hit the mark yet with those guidelines. We're working together with them to provide feedback from a producer level on that.
Thompson also said, regarding Hemp, those producers are having a hard time finding places to process the crop, "We heard a lot about the challenges that producers who have been ahead of the curve on that crop, have had economically with the marketplace, with processors, and other things. We talk about the shortage of meat processors here in our part of the country. I think we have shortages all over the country, with getting their hemp crop processed. So there are still more challenges than there have been successes in that, but we're optimistic. There's a lot of progress that can be made. We still hope for a better day in the near future for the hemp industry. "
The next state legislative session kicks off in just a few days, and Thompson says this year they have a lot of challenging issues to tackle, "Taxation, year in and year out, they bring the legislature to town. We're always worried about where they're going to go with the evolution of taxes. We've been talking for years about where the next frontier is on raising our ad Valorem taxes, and sure enough, there's a wide variety of legislation up there that would seek to for municipal purposes, accounting purposes, and others to create new forms of ad Valorem tax or increase ones that are there. We're concerned about sharing our story as property owners, about how that would impact us, as well as trying to advocate for some of our folks that live in more rural areas. Whether it be high-speed internet access, we're working with a number of folks to try to increase some of the regulatory flexibility there to get that done, as well as your healthcare access and specialty providers that we have a lot of stress, and a lot of burden if you live in a rural area."
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