About 150 farmers from across Pennsylvania gathered on Capitol Hill seeking support from Pennsylvania's congressional delegation on critical issues impacting agriculture. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) members discussed a wide variety of topics with lawmakers, including the need to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that addresses the needs of farmers through an agricultural worker program.
"Changes are needed to provide a legal and reliable workforce for farmers, a plentiful supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for American consumers and a boost to the nation's economy. The economic implications of doing nothing could be staggering for farmers in Pennsylvania and across the country," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer. "We are also seeking changes that would provide a sufficient workforce for year-round enterprises, such as dairy farms and mushroom growers."
Farm bureau members are also urging Congress to reauthorize funding to repair and improve our locks and dam systems, whose deterioration threatens the ability of farmers to transport food to markets around the world.
"In order to maintain and strengthen the United States advantage over foreign nations in moving food products to overseas markets, we must improve our port infrastructure and address a growing inability to load and unload the largest ships that will be able to navigate the new Panama Canal," said Shaffer.
Meanwhile, farmers are advocating for legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from overreaching its authority to regulate farm ponds, ditches and converted cropland, but maintain EPA's ability to regulate "navigable waters" of the United States.
Finally, PFB is urging members of Congress to make sure that any tax reform plan includes changes for individuals as well as corporations, because 96 percent of farms and 75 percent of farm sales are taxed under IRS provisions affecting individual taxpayers. "A study released [recently] shows that tax code changes restricting the use of cash accounting by agricultural operations would reduce farmers' access to capital by more than $12 billion over the next four years," said Shaffer.
"Pennsylvania farmers will continue to be able to provide healthy and affordable food for consumers as long as they have a legal and adequate workforce and safeguards from costly and burdensome regulations that are often unnecessary and duplicate existing regulations," concluded Shaffer.