2012 Policy Development Backgrounders

Property Rights Collide with Second Amendment Rights (pdf)
Private property rights and the efforts of some to diminish their significance are a serious concern among farmers, landowners and business owners. Along with that, many of those same concerned property owners believe in the importance and maintenance of Second Amendment gun rights. Recent legislation would allow individuals to transport their own personal firearms onto private property regardless of the policies put in place by the owner. It also seeks to provide statutory protection to gun owners from employment policies regarding guns. This causes a direct conflict between property rights and gun rights.

Aflatoxin Testing for Crop Insurance (pdf)
Frequently, producers’ grain is docked because of the presence of aflatoxin when offered for sale at the local elevator although the grain is subsequently found to be free of the fungus when samples are submitted for crop insurance reimbursement. In Texas, state officials have developed a voluntary program to remedy this situation. The One Sample Strategy (OSS), administered by the Office of the Texas State Chemist (OTSC), allows grain elevators choosing to participate to use the same aflatoxin test results for both grading and for valuing an insured loss. This single test procedure is conducted at the initial point of sale and the test result is then tagged to the grain to satisfy regulatory requirements and to collect insurance indemnities.

Port Infrastructure (pdf)
Development and maintenance of U.S. inland waterways and ports is a shared responsibility of federal, state, and local governments, with extensive private sector participation. Without routine dredging, rivers can accumulate sediment at a rate of five to six feet each year, prohibiting many ships from entering channels or forcing ships to carry only a fraction of their intended load.

Futures Market (pdf)
If futures markets are going to continue to function as a useful means of managing price risk in agriculture, meaningful steps to restore that confidence are required.

Pre-harvest Food Safety (pdf)
Pre-harvest food safety has become a topic of increasing focus, particularly in the beef industry.

Animal Disease Traceability (pdf)
Foreign animal disease outbreaks have the potential to create massive financial losses in the livestock sector through loss of access to foreign markets, a decline in meat demand by domestic consumers, and direct production losses (death loss and morbidity). Disease outbreaks also put export markets at risk, as was amply demonstrated by the 2003 Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) event. Last year, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed a rule to establish minimum identification and documentation standards for animals shipped across state lines.

Retail Agriculture (pdf)
More farmers and ranchers are getting closer to their customers, and finding that they can capture a higher margin when they grow vegetable or meat products with a specific consumer market segment in mind. Whether they sell direct-to-retail or through wholesale channels, if it is sold with special product attributes such as being local, organic, grass-fed, or small farm-raised it may have a higher value. A significant portion of the value is based on retail consumer demand. This sector can be called “Retail Agriculture.”

Sales Tax on Internet Sales (pdf)
Many rural communities find themselves losing their retail base. Local retailers are competing with Internet retailers who do not have to collect sales tax if they do not have a physical presence in that state. This deprives local and state government of tax revenue needed to provide essential services.