IFB sets its national legislative priorities

Trade tops list of issues the organization will be working on in Washington, D.C.

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adam Nielsen hopes Congress passes the USMCA before its August recess. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors recently approved the organization’s national legislative priorities for the year. The priorities, developed with input from members, will serve as a guide to help IFB advocate for its members in Washington, D.C.

“These are the issues members told us they are most concerned about and want to see resolution on,” said Adam Nielsen, IFB director of national legislation and policy development. “They go right to the heart of the organization’s mission statement – the economic well-being of agriculture.”

IFB national priorities for 2019 include:

- Recapture lost export demand, enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), end retaliatory tariffs and build new overseas markets.

Nielsen said he remains hopeful Congress will approve the USMCA before its August recess.

“We’re working on a short timeline of getting anything done in this Congress,” Nielsen said. “The 2020 election cycle looms over whatever work can be done on Capitol Hill. We’ve already lost a month.”

- Work for new investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure – waterways, surface transportation and broadband.

- Fight for regulatory relief that allows farmers to remain productive and competitive. This includes repealing and replacing the “waters of the U.S.” rule and advocating for improvements to the Endangered Species Act – any rules affecting farmers, Nielsen said.

- Finalize year-round sale of E-15. Nielsen noted the Environmental Protection Agency recently put out some “reassuring statements that they are determined to get E15 approved for this summer’s driving season.”

- Implement provisions of the 2018 farm bill. The new five-year farm bill was approved and signed into law last year, but rules still need to be written for new programs included in the legislation.

“Sometimes, the devil’s in the details,” Nielsen said. “We will spend a lot of time reading and commenting on rules and making sure the farm bill provisions and rules are consistent with what was passed.”

- Monitor climate change legislation for potential increased costs and for opportunities to promote renewable energy and to reward conservation practices.

Leaders in the House have indicated plans to address climate change, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, “is calling it to our attention,” Nielsen said.

“Everything comes around again. The last time we talked about this issue was in the 2009-10 era. It’s back,” he said. “We want to be prepared to be engaged in that discussion.”