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NDFB President addresses success and challenges

Created: 11/17/12 (Sat) | Topic: Events

There are successes to celebrate as well as challenges to face as North Dakota Farm Bureau begins its next 70 years, said North Dakota Farm Bureau, President Doyle Johannes. He made his comments during his annual address at the 70th annual meeting, held November 16-17 at the Holiday Inn, Fargo.

In the success column, Johannes said getting Measure 3 passed in North Dakota was extremely important because modern agriculture is under attack in so many other areas of the country. As an example, Johannes said a group in Hawaii is trying to outlaw biotechnology crops in that state. In addition to contributing more than $200 million to the state’s economy, he said biotech crops have helped reduce erosion and increased production per acre.

“We’ve made tremendous gains, and without the use of biotechnology, a lot of it wouldn’t have happened.”

Johannes also cited the passage of a measure in California that outlawed cages for chickens, and the instability of the egg industry in Switzerland when that country moved to cage-free systems. “That country went from 100 percent self-sufficiency in egg production, to less than 50 percent, and the price went up four times.”

Johannes was disappointed that N.D. Farmers Union chose to oppose Measure 3, but he was gratified to see the widespread support it received in the election.  “When it was all said and done, to win every county in this state was awesome.”

Johannes said, however, a major concern for farmers and ranchers is the looming fiscal cliff that Congress needs to address before January 1.

“Come the first of January, if nothing is done with the current tax situation, the estate tax exemption will go down to $1 million and the top tax rate will jump from 35 to 55 percent. To put it in perspective, an average 1,200-acre farm in North Dakota would have an estate tax of $2 million. “I don’t know of anyone in this room that has that kind of money lying around to take care of that kind of tax burden…to be able to keep that farm intact and pass it on to the next generation.”

He said Farm Bureau is working hard to address that issue and will be pushing for action in the lame duck session.

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