All we want for Christmas is...
Chuck Spencer is GROWMARK's director of governmental affairs
Posted on: 12/8/2011 4:24:00 PM
The holiday season always brings to mind presents. Our imaginations run with thoughts of what we would like to give and receive as gifts. What if we were all to receive policy presents this year? What would you have on your wish list?
A good policy present list would have to include some basic actions we need in agriculture and our country. A big box for infrastructure programs makes the list.
One mode of transportation in glaring need of immediate improvement is our waterway system. The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers have 600-foot locks in a 1,200-foot world. We watch the Panama Canal being modified to handle ships three times the size of the current vessels in use on budget and on time.
We have languished more than 20 years to construct seven new 1,200-foot-long lock chambers on two rivers in the Midwest.
This present would have to make the top of the list.
Farm policy was supposed to be wrapped up with a big bow on top by now in the deficit super committee’s recommendation for resolving our national spending challenge. However, this present will not make it under the tree this year.
Farm policy will now go from super status to regular order in a presidential election year. Farm groups will be working very hard proposing the best risk management program for their cropping sector.
It will be very important in the end for all commodity and farm groups to work together as one when the farm bill goes to the floor of both the House and Senate. Non-farm interests have increasing involvement with the farm bill, and their ideas are different than those of most of us involved in modern agriculture. If agriculture is less than united behind a farm bill proposal, we may receive a present we wish we hadn’t in 2012. With all that is going on for the election, will it be 2013?
Stocking stuffer ideas would have to include an “Hours of Service” exemption for agricultural supplies, exempting cooperatives from the costly regulatory oversight that is meant for large financial firms, and relief from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for pesticide applications.
What list of holiday policy presents would be complete without resolution to our state’s budget challenge? For Illinois, this may be one of the most wished-for presents of the season.
Make 2012 a productive year and make something happen with these policy gifts.
Chuck Spencer is GROWMARK’s director of government affairs. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.