In today’s interview, AFBF Presidential candidates respond to the question: What do you believe to be the priority issues affecting agriculture in the Western U.S.?
Kevin Rogers, Arizona Farm Bureau
Western issues we must continue to deal with are many. The understanding that the public land and its proper management are critical to the future of our western states. Whether we are talking about a water shed area or wildlife taking the forage that we have protected for our cattle, we must keep telling our story to those who regulate us and would just as soon see us go away.
The Endangered Species Act is another issue that we in the west deal with, that really has the potential to push us off our land or limit the use that we have had for generations. The WOTUS rule is another rule that hits us in the west much harder than other parts of the country and our work load under this administration keeps growing.
And lastly as an Arizonan, I must mention our lack of security on our southern border and the trafficking of drugs must be dealt with. It was one of our Arizona ranchers that was shot and killed while he was out checking on his herd. Our citizens should not live in fear as my members do on our southern border.
Don Villwock, Indiana Farm Bureau
Wow, that could unfortunately be a big list. Because the federal government is such a large land owner in the west your interaction with them is an overwhelming issue. The use of public grazing lands and forests and control by BLM is an increasing and ever present issue.
Much like the rest of the country is now learning, Waters of the United States, "WOTUS" is the largest land grab in history. Western farmers and ranchers have been dealing with overzealous government agencies for years. WATER-WATER-WATER: Water rights, water use along with quality and quantity issues will continue to escalate. I am also deeply concerned about the continual erosion of private property rights. A classic example of this is the Endangered Species Act and what authority the regulators can take to impose their unworkable standards on private property owners. I take these issues very seriously and know full well what can happen out west can and often does creep into the rest of the country.
Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau
WOTUS is in mind the most threatening to us all. Water is life in the West and this misdirected Federal overreach will likely impact all of us. Public lands grazing is also a huge issue. The overall reduction in animal numbers and permits make it all the more challenging for producers.
Additionally, water quality and quantity, the Endangered Species Act, natural resources management, restrictions on mining and oil exploration are all important.
For those of us that live in the West, the challenges seem never ending. Imagine what they would be without Farm Bureau!
Zippy Duvall, Georgia Farm Bureau
There are many priorities issues affecting all agriculture and not just a part of the country. Take for an example the increased intrusion on our private property rights. Issues like the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. demonstrate the vast overreach of a government agency circumventing the congressional process to dictate how we use our land.
Dwindling access to federal grazing land and exceeding use of the Endangered Species Act proves troublesome as well when not balanced with the rights of farmers and ranchers. Federal encroachment on our livelihood attacks the way we do business.
As American Farm Bureau President, I will provide a collective voice on issues like these on the federal level, while communicating the diverse impacts they have on our member states nationwide.
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What we face in the West, and why it matters