Arkansas Agriculture Edition 44 : Page 10

Farmers need a seed standardization law that protects the option of using genetically enhanced seeds. These seeds are beneficial in producing increased yields and protecting the environment through less use of pesticides, chemicals and water. advocate for trespass penalties when access to property goes beyond the agreed to scope of activity or employment purposes. Private property protection is vital to landowners. It guards against criminal activity and organizations wanting to harm agriculture. “It’s a simple truth that no one farms without land. We’re going to support multiple pieces of legislation related to this issue,” said Zac Bradley, ArFB’s Director of Public Policy and Government Relations. “We think strengthening state trespassing laws will be able to give farmers and ranchers more protection from theft from people opposed to agriculture and give them some lawsuit protection from trespassers.” Exemption for Arkansas Forestry Commission Rehires During Emergencies Arkansas Farm Bureau is committed to the most efficient use of state funds. An exemption for rehiring retired state employees for fire emergencies will help the Forestry Commission control costs. Retired former Forestry Commission workers are presently prohibited from working, even on a contract basis or temporarily, during times of emergency. This often forces the Forestry Commission to hire and house out-of-state workers for firefighting and other emergencies. A simple correction of state law will allow the Forestry Commission to access the in-state expertise of retirees during such emergencies. “This issue is about protecting Arkansas property and people and doing it efficiently,” Bradley said. “It was an unintended consequence to the passage of the ‘double-dipping’ law for state retirees. Unfortunately, the state can’t hire the in-state expertise of recent retirees for fire emergencies. This is a common sense change.” State Government Reorganization We’ll monitor and advise lawmakers regarding any reorganization of state government agencies and functions. Agriculture collaborates with many state agencies, and keeping their essential expertise and functions intact is important. Our focus will be on agencies and boards that have a direct impact on the agriculture industry. “It’s a big trend nationwide to reorganize state government. There can be a lot of positives to that like consolidating resources, removing duplications, saving tax dollars and the ability to offer better compensation when you combine positions and tasks,” Pitchford said. “Farm Bureau wants to work to achieve all those goals but make sure we keep services available for our membership. Agriculture is a technical field, and we want to retain the best services and right personnel while being efficient.” Beyond the priority list, Arkansas Farm Bureau expects to engage on a number of issues, including support for highway infrastructure funding, funding for Discovery Farms research and the tuition loan repayment program for veterinary students. We also hope to support changes to the law or funding that increases broadband internet service to rural Arkansas. Additionally, Farm Bureau will support an increase in the State Plant Board penalty matrix. We also anticipate bills related to animal welfare, feral hogs and levee districts. We’ll use the policy decided by our members to guide our positions on those bills. The priorities and positions of the Arkansas Farm Bureau are guided by our grassroots policy process. We take our marching orders from our members. Farm Bureau will never waver in its efforts to accomplish the goals of farmers and ranchers and to improve rural Arkansas. One of the goals of the founders of Farm Bureau, to advocate for the interests of agriculture in the public arena, remains constant in everything we do. 10 Arkansas Agriculture | ARKANSAS FARM BUREAU • WINTER 2017

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