The bounty of our farms is so plentiful that we may tend to forget what an amazing production achievement this really is. Each American farmer and rancher produces enough food to feed over 56 people -- a threefold increase in productivity in 20 years.
Rural America must be maintained as a rewarding place to live. To accomplish this, our rural areas are entitled to services comparable to their urban neighbors, such as water and sewer systems, improved electricity and telephone service, adequate transportation, available and adequate financial credit, and employment opportunities which will allow small farmers to supplement their incomes.
Farm exports have continued to expand under the policies of this Republican Administration -- from a low of $6 billion in 1968, the last Democratic year, to $22 billion in 1975. These exports are not giveaway programs, most are earning dollars from the marketplaces of the world, establishing a favorable balance of trade and a higher standard of living for all. Through our farm exports we fight the problem of world hunger, especially with the humanitarian Food for Peace Program (Public Law 480) of the Eisenhower Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress of 1954.
Republican farm policy has permitted farmers to use their crop land fully. We are at last moving toward making effective use of our superb resources. Net farm income from 1972 through 1975 averaged $26 billion, more than double the average of the 1960's. Government should not dictate to the productive men and women who work the land. To assure this, we support the continuation of the central principles of the Agricultural Act of 1973, with adjustments of target prices and loan levels to reflect increased production costs.
We oppose government-controlled grain reserves, just as we oppose federal regulations that are unrealistic in farm practices, such as those imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We urge prompt action by Congress in amending the Grain Inspection Act to strengthen the present inspection system and restore its integrity.
We firmly believe that when the nation asks our farmers to go all out to produce as much as possible for world-wide markets, the government should guarantee them unfettered access to those markets. Our farmers should not be singled out by export controls. Also, when a foreign national subsidizes its farm exports, our farmers deserve protection against such unfair practices. The federal government should assure that foreign imported commodities are equal in quality to our domestic commodities. Nations from whom we buy commodities should not be allowed to circumvent import restriction laws, such as the Meat import Quota Act of 1964.
We recognize the importance of the multilateral trade negotiations now in progress and urge our representatives to obtain the most beneficial agreements for our farmers and the nation's economy.
In order to assure the consumers of America an uninterrupted source of food, it is necessary to pass labor relations legislation which is responsive to the welfare of workers and to the particular needs of food production. Such legislation should recognize the need to prevent work stoppages during the critical harvest periods.
We must help farmers protect themselves from drought, flood and other natural disasters through a system of all-risk crop insurance through Federal government reinsurance of private insurance companies combined with the existing disaster payment program.
As in 1972, we urge prompt passage of the Republican-sponsored legislation now pending in Congress which will increase the estate tax exemption to $200,000, allow valuation of farm property on a current use basis and provide
for extension of the time of payment in the case of farms and small businesses. This overdue estate and gift tax legislation must be approved this year. We favor a liberalized marital deduction and oppose capital gains tax at death.
Innovations in agriculture need to be encouraged by expanding research programs including new pest and predator control measures, and utilization of crops as a new energy resource. If we expect our farmers to produce an abundant food supply, they must have all the energy they need to produce, market and process their crops and livestock.
We continue to support farmer cooperatives, including rural electric and telephone cooperatives, in their efforts to improve services to their members. We support the Capper-Volstead Act.
We believe that non-farm corporations and tax-loss farming should be prevented from unfairly competing against family farms, which we support as the preferred method of farm organization.
Since farmers are practicing conservationists, they should not be burdened with unrealistic environmental regulations. We are concerned about regulations issued by the Army Corps of Engineers that will regulate all "routine" agricultural and forestry activities on "all" our waters and wetland, and support legislation to exempt routine farming operations from these requirements. The adjudication of water rights should be a matter of state determination.
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