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July 11, 2014
Volume 14
Issue 22

STATE NEWS

SEN. BANKS DEPLOYED TO AFGHANISTAN   Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announced plans to take a leave of absence from the state’s General Assembly to deploy to Afghanistan in his role as a supply corps officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He will leave on Sept. 5 and remain deployed for almost eight months. Banks will remain on the November ballot for re-election to the Senate. If re-elected, Banks will be sworn into office on Nov. 5 via Skype. Republican precinct committee members residing in Indiana Senate District 17 will select a temporary replacement. 

FEDERAL NEWS

IFB HOSTS CLEAN WATER ACT MEETINGS   The Indiana Farm Bureau hosted two regional meetings on the EPA/Corps proposed Waters of the U.S. rule on July 1 in Salem and Evansville. The purpose of the meetings was to provide additional clarity and education to members, local officials, members of Congress and others on the rule and its potentially harmful effects as the EPA attempts to expand its jurisdiction of regulated waters over nearly all areas with any hydrologic connection to downstream navigable waters. This rule, if implemented, would directly contradict prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which imposed limits on the extent of federal CWA authority, and it would bypass Congress and supersede its original intent of the law. 

Additional meetings are being planned for the other regions across the state and will take place during the August recess. Host counties that have been tentatively identified include: Tipton, DeKalb, Jasper, Marshall, Tippecanoe, Randolph, Decatur, Vigo and Monroe.

More information about the meetings including specific dates and times, Farm Bureau’s campaign and useful resources are continually being updated and are available on the website. Find additional information from AFBF on the rule. 

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM INCLUDES A HOOSIER VOICE   The Indiana Farm Bureau joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation, Business Roundtable, AmericanHort, Western Growers and the National Association of Manufacturers on July 9 to urge Congress and the administration to work together to enact immigration reform during a day of action with events in Washington, D.C., and in more than 60 congressional districts across 25 states.

U.S. agriculture faces a critical shortage of workers every year as citizens are largely unwilling to engage in these rigorous activities and guest worker programs are unable to respond to true labor market demand because of unrealistic caps on the number of visas. This creates a situation in which our farmers are less competitive and less reliable for the American consumer. Reforms to the immigration system can assure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and long-term for all types of agriculture. By joining in the day of action, Farm Bureau called on Congress to stop the delay and do what is right for the American farmer and consumers.

The Partnership for a New American Economy, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers released new opinion survey findings showing strong support among voters in 26 states and nationally for immigration reform. See more information about the event and coalition.

EPA PROPOSES GHG REGULATIONS ON EXISTING POWER PLANTS   Last month, the EPA released its proposed rule addressing emissions from existing power plants. The EPA expects the rule overall to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these sources by 30 percent (from 2005 levels) by the year 2030. Under the proposal, however, each state will not necessarily make the same cuts. For example, Indiana will have to cut emissions by 20 percent.
  
U.S. agriculture will not only get hit with increased electricity and input costs, but EPA intends to propose similar GHG regulations for other sectors of the economy. One of the sectors that EPA is considering is animal feeding operations.  

Once published in the Federal Register, the public will have 120 days to comment on the proposed rule. EPA’s Clean Power Plan can be found here.

The American Farm Bureau is a member and supporter of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future. For additional resources, visit the PBEF website

COALITION FORMS TO OPPOSE “WATERS OF THE U.S.” EXPANSION   Representatives from ag, local government, utilities, contractors and industry met recently at the invitation of Indiana Farm Bureau’s Justin Schneider to discuss concerns with the proposed expansion of jurisdiction of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. By expanding the definition of waters subject to federal regulation, the rule will add levels of federal oversight to programs generally administered by the state. In addition, the rule will expand regulatory reach to “waters” that are dry land that are wet only when it rains. The group expressed concern about the needs for additional permits for pesticide and nutrient applications, construction installation of culverts in ditches, maintenance of ditches, and installation of utilities. Farm Bureau is concerned that the proposal is greatly reducing the practices that are considered normal farming practices which are exempt from regulation under the Clean Water Act. The coalition will be jointly submitting comments to EPA and the Corps as well as to the Indiana congressional delegation expressing our shared concerns.

EPA STAFF VISITS INDIANA   As part of the ongoing efforts to collaborate on voluntary strategies to reduce nutrient loss from fields to water, Indiana ag groups continue to work with universities and state and federal agencies. Part of the effort includes ongoing dialogue with EPA to find voluntary solutions to reduce the likelihood of regulations being put in place to restrict agricultural practices. Leadership and staff from EPA Region 5 spent the day on June 20 in meetings with a group representing universities, ag organizations and other government agencies. The participants discussed proposed research and monitoring projects and learned about current farming practices. Meetings like these are an important step in maintaining the flexibility that farmers need to responsibly farm their land.

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