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News Release

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Regulations hurt national security, economy

Date: April 30, 2004

Agriculture is part of a strong national security strategy to ensure consumers a reliable, affordable and safe supply of food, fiber and other agricultural products. A group of Farm Bureau leaders from California will deliver that message to members of Congress during a visit to Washington, D.C., May 3-6, cautioning them against over-regulating a business that is fundamental to national security.

"Agriculture is critical to the security of America because we provide food, jobs, environmental benefits and exports to other countries," said California Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli, who is leading the group. "California agriculture, by virtue of its position as the top U.S. farm state, is vital to national security. Lawmakers should recognize this link and support a strong farm economy."

Pauli said the state's timber sector is an example of how government regulation and import competition have shuttered mills, boosted unemployment and created greater reliance on imported lumber.

"California now must rely on outside sources for nearly 80 percent of our lumber needs, much of that from Canada," said Pauli. "Unless government leaders wake up to this distressing trend, we will see more sectors of agriculture suffocate under a regulatory morass. It makes no sense economically or environmentally to hurt an important sector that has literally helped build strong communities."

Pauli, a Mendocino County farmer, said the delegation will urge support for policies that promote national food security, such as a national animal identification program to address animal health issues, and country-of-origin labeling for agricultural commodities at the retail level. Farm Bureau supports country-of-origin labeling legislation, H.R.3993, by Rep. Mary Bono.

"We need a labeling bill that provides useful information to consumers, a plan that is cost effective, and one that allows for any animal identification system adopted to be used to assist efforts to identify animals under a country-of-origin labeling program," said Pauli. "We support a program that does not require any one segment of agriculture to bear the brunt of the costs."

Country-of-origin labeling rules were supposed to be implemented in September 2004, but recent action by Congress delayed the rules until 2006. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to move forward with final regulations for the 2004 deadline, a move endorsed by the California Farm Bureau, in case Congress again changes the timeline for implementation.

"Farmers operate on very slim margins and, recognizing the fundamental need for food as well as the public interest in food safety, we think the security of agriculture should be a high priority," said Pauli.

The delegation will visit with representatives with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the International Trade Commission.

Joining Pauli on the trip are George Adam, Santa Maria; Pete Belluomini, Bakersfield; Steve Bontadelli, Santa Cruz; George Cordero, Hemet; Richard Edsall, Cottonwood; Mich Etchebarne, Modesto; Russ Felch, Hilmar; Steve Kafka, Avery; Alan Kasparian, Selma; Craig Knudson, Visalia; Len Lindstrand, Redding; Greg Overton, Orland; Cio Perez, St. Helena; Hector Ramos, Vista; Mike Robinson, Stockton; Mike Strunk, Sebastopol; Robert Trimm, Brawley; Kenny Watkins, Linden; and George Wurzel, Hanford.

Contact: Bob Krauter
(916) 561-5550
E-mail: news@cfbf.com

Note: Examples of how farmers and ranchers care for the environment are featured online at http://www.cfbf.com/issues/earthwise/

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.








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