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February 07, 2011   Email to Friend 

By Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
February 07, 2011

Jim Lovell, who commanded Apollo 13 on its failed lunar mission, told AFBF leadership that "This was not just another space adventure -- this was a classic case of crisis management."
ORLANDO, Fla. --  With more and more regulatory burdens threatening to destroy America's farmers and ranchers, the nation's largest farm organization is taking the fight to what it calls an over-zealous and predatory Environmental Protection Agency.

"It is time to stop the EPA," Barry Bushue, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, declared last weekend at the AFBF's annual National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla., an event attended by a delegation of about 100 Alabama Farmers Federation executive committee members, young farm families and staff.

Throughout the conference, held jointly with the Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference, the organization's leadership was urged to "Engage ... Act ... Win" for all challenges facing agriculture today.

"We face challenges from regulators who are ready to downsize American agriculture, mothball our productivity and out-source our farms. Whether the topic is greenhouse gas emissions, new rules on dust, ineffective endangered species mandates, permits for spray nozzles or expansive rules for water -- overregulation is draining resources from our farms and our ranches," said Bushue, who delivered the opening address for an ailing President Bob Stallman.

"This pressure is clear and so is the source -- the Environmental Protection Agency," he added. "With a $10 million budget and more than 17,000 employees, the EPA has ramped up its regulatory force at the very time agriculture's environmental footprint is shrinking. To put it bluntly, EPA is working methodically to destroy the most productive and efficient agricultural system in the world. Our message must be: It is time to stop the EPA."

Bushue went on to say that the AFBF is now "carrying the battle to court" and has suits pending over EPA's greenhouse gas regulations as well as its new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. "It is clear to us that over the last few years, EPA has established some of the most burdensome, and we believe, illegal, environmental regulations ever," said Bushue.

"EPA likes to call TMDL a 'pollution diet,' but this diet threatens to starve agriculture out of the entire 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. You may ask why farmers and ranchers nationwide should be concerned about the Chesapeake Bay region. This new approach will not end in the Bay. EPA has already revealed a plan to take similar action in other watersheds across the nation, including Mississippi River watershed."

To combat these and other issues, AFBF officials urged its leadership to become engaged in the process by building relationships and spreading agriculture's message through whatever means available. Furthermore, AFBF urged members at all levels -- county, state and federal -- to act whenever challenges arise, and win those challenges.

It was a message that permeated the numerous breakout sessions and colored, somewhat less, the talks by such special guests as former Harley-Davidson communications director Ken Schmidt, journalist and political pundit Tucker Carlson and former Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, who called the failed lunar mission "a classic case of crisis management."

Schmidt, for example, told how Harley-Davidson's "bad biker" image figured in the loss of almost 70 percent of its market in a decade, which threw the legendary motorcycle manufacturer into bankruptcy.

"How different is that than saying, 'Oh, my gosh! You've got hormones in our milk!' and creating fear about that? Or, 'Oh my gosh! Cows are causing this (hole in the) ozone layer and it's going to kill us all!' Fear and misunderstanding are what drive the world," Schmidt said. "We all have problems communicating to people who've been misinformed about what we do and how we do it."

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