Be Vigilant on Legislation Affecting Farming, Farm Bureau Chief Says

by Arkansas Business Staff

Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, told the nearly 500 members at the 61st annual Officers and Leaders Conference Monday to remain vigilant on matters of public policy.

Veach said Arkansas Farm Bureau's success as a grassroots organization was in the active involvement of its volunteers and the impact of a united voice.

Concerning national issues affecting farmers, such as the Clean Water Restoration Act, Veach said, "This act would remove the term 'navigable' from the Clean Water Act when referring to water under federal jurisdiction." If the bill passes, the act would give the Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority over all intrastate waters.

Both the American Farm Bureau and the Arkansas Farm Bureau oppose the change, Veach said, because "it permanently erases the distinction between federal and state waters."

The recently passed House version of a climate change bill contains a "cap and trade" system for reducing greenhouse gases that could adversely affect agriculture. "This bill is very serious to us, and we need to watch it closely," Veach said.

He also commented on animal rights groups committed to attacking livestock agriculture. He says the goals of organizations like the Humane Society and PETA is to stop the raising of animals for food.

"Raising livestock for food is a matter of national security, food safety and food security," Veach said. "We have to fight every issue as hard as we can in our state and in other states."

Earlier this month, Hornbeck Agricultural Group, which has a soy-based biodiesel production plant at DeWitt, placed a large display advertisement in Delta Farm Press magazine to encourage soybean farmers to oppose the proposed EPA rules.

The Hornbeck ad takes aim at controversial "Indirect Land Use Change" rules proposed by the EPA, which it said are based on the suspicion that using American-grown soybeans for biodiesel will dramatically influence soybean production in other countries.

"The American farmers are the ones who will be hurting if something isn't done," said Troy Hornbeck, a managing director of Hornbeck Agricultural. "We wanted to do our part to make sure the EPA heard from soybean farmers, not just from the Washington lobbyists, lawyers, and bureaucrats.

"We had a choice. We could watch while flawed and harmful EPA regulations are adopted, or we could rally soybean farmers to speak out," he said. "We're family farmers, too, and we know farmers are concerned - but they're also very busy. So we bought this ad, and we've set up a simple online process that lets farmers send their message to EPA."

The advertisement's text explains how the EPA has proposed regulations that discourage use of soy-based biodiesel by creating mounds of unworkable regulations and unnecessary paperwork that will stifle the industry and reduce the market for soybeans.

The ad describes how the EPA fails to give adequate credit to soy-based biodiesel for reducing greenhouse gases. Biodiesel is proven to be one of the cleanest-burning fuels known, but the EPA proposes to give it minimal credit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hornbeck Agricultural Group is the parent of Hornbeck Seed Co., Worldwide SoyTechnologies and Arkansas SoyEnergy Group.

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