The current League agriculture position continues to address important areas of concern in agriculture, and provides ample opportunity for robust advocacy in areas of sustainable farming, environmental protection, a recommended shift from farm subsidies to market-driven pricing, and appropriate investment in research. Other League positions and principles provide additional support for advocacy in these areas. We list these here so that Leagues will not waste time on related issues that are already in LWVUS positions or are outside of the scope of this study.
- Pesticide and herbicide use, chemical fertilizers, crop management practices and concentrated animal operations all impact air and water quality. While these are of ongoing concern, LWVUS positions on Environmental Protection and Pollution Control already offer a solid framework for advocacy at every level, with specific attention to the responsibility of federal agencies to ensure compliance.
. . . The League believes that although environmental protection and pollution control are responsibilities shared by all levels of government, it is essential that the federal government provide leadership and technical and financial assistance.
The federal government should have the major role in setting standards for environmental protection and pollution control. Other levels of government should have the right to set more stringent standards. Enforcement should be carried out at the lower levels of government, but the federal government should enforce standards if other levels of government do not meet this responsibility. Standards must be enforced in a timely, consistent and equitable manner for all violators in all parts of society, including governmental units, industry, business and individuals…. (Impact on Issues 2012-2014, p 50.)
While agricultural coalitions have pushed for exemptions from standards articulated in the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, the League position states clearly that standards should be applied across all parts of society, with the federal government ensuring enforcement if states do not fulfill this responsibility.
- The League's Position on Immigration (Impact on Issues 2013-2014, p. 71) states that immigration policies should meet the “Economic, business, and employment needs of the United States….” State immigration laws combined with federal inaction on immigration reform, including expansion of the guest worker program, has caused a migrant agricultural labor shortage. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2012, the lack of labor was expected to result in up to $9 billion in losses from unharvested produce. Up to 70% of agricultural laborers are estimated to be undocumented workers.
- The League's Position on Meeting Basic Human Needs (Impact on Issues 2013-2014, p. 74) states that “Persons who are unable to work, whose earnings are inadequate or for whom jobs are not available, have the right to an income and/or services sufficient to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and access to health care.” Nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, WIC, school breakfast & lunch programs) comprise more than 70% of USDA's budget. In November 2013 SNAP recipients experienced a reduction in benefits when a temporary prior increase (authorized during the 2008 recession) expired. SNAP funding has been a major topic of disagreement between the House and Senate during the Farm Bill negotiation process.