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For 148 years, the National Grange has been working to improve agriculture in America as agriculture continues to be the backbone of America. The Grange supports the American farmer and rancher with policies that will help to protect and encourage the agriculture industry. We are working with legislators in choosing the best course of action for agriculture growth in America. We do this so our farmers and ranchers can continue supplying an abundant, safe and efficient food supply for America and the world.
All in agriculture must find common ground and recognize that there are different business plans and practices that protect the environment while providing people with the food, fiber and fuel they need. We must continue to educate our fellow citizens about agriculture.
Concerns continue to exist regarding GMO seed technology, the development of Traitor Seeds, and issues surrounding cross-pollination and the ability to save seeds for replanting. We encourage the USDA to continue reviews of this technology to verify safety while considering the economic impact to farmers. Until credible scientific studies indicate a real health risk exists, the National Grange should oppose mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified products. We further request that the National Grange Legislative Director share the latest reliable research on this subject with State Granges.
Free trade agreements are not always fair when some segments of the economy are sacrificed. Free trade agreements have been negotiated on a bilateral and regional basis, which have the potential to be harmful to farmers and the economy. We need to be aware of and educate ourselves on this major issue. The National Grange advocates for the creation of trade agreements that will be beneficial and flexible while protecting not only agriculture but also the American dream. The movement of agricultural products across our country as well as exports to foreign countries is vital to the economy of the nation.
Support for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a long-standing position of the National Grange. However, a second adverse ruling in October by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against our country’s COOL program will force the U.S. to take additional actions to resolve this issue. WTO agreed country of origin labeling is the consumer’s right to know, but the way it is being implemented by USDA unfairly discriminates against Canadian and Mexican meat and animals. The Grange calls upon the Administration, and if need be the Congress, to fix this problem in 2015 with a solution that enables the consumer to make commodity purchases which are clearly labeled as to their sources of origin and processing.
We understand the need to provide safe and healthy food for ourselves and the rest of the world. However we must ensure that there is not an overreaction by the government in developing rules and regulations that make it more difficult or impossible for farmers to operate efficiently. The USDA should review current research on the use and effects of hormones in the production of milk. We support all cheesemakers who presently follow the FDA rules which continue to permit properly maintained, cleaned and sanitized wood used for an aging surface in cheese making, creating delicious, nutritious and unique cheeses.
The National Grange continues to support extensive research by our Land Grant Colleges and Universities into both short-term and long-term effects on the environment and on human nutrition, of all new crops, whether Genetically Modified or traditionally bred. One of the major issues facing animal agriculture in our country is the effort for certain “Animal Rights” groups to define “Humane Treatment” of animals. The National Grange should work together with other like groups, to ensure that sound science is used in determining humane treatment of animals.
The National Grange strongly supports agriculture education at all levels including agriculture science as well as Cooperative Extension Service and encourages the partnership between 4-H, FFA and Cooperative Extension Service to draw on and develop leadership abilities. Funding of Extension must be continued and increased if we wish to ensure the availability of innovative practices and new tools beneficial to agriculture and society. We support educational programs, such as Farm to Table or Farm to School, that teach the importance of proper diet and nutrition. The Grange is in an ideal position to inform and teach future consumers, and current consumers as well, that their food comes from the practice of agriculture and not just grocery stores.
The National Grange believes in our democratic process. Our answer must be to join with all interested parties to educate the public about the realities of agriculture and the principles of nature. Legislators, judges, and our citizens need to understand how and why certain methods are used and how agriculture is an essential component in protecting and improving the environment.
Only with mutual respect can the different sectors of agriculture meet the growing demand for food, fiber and fuel in the future. Setting aside our differences and working together is essential for a successful understanding of what is needed to carry agriculture forward to a promising future. The Grange calls upon every agriculturist in America to join in unity in the effort to feed and house our neighbors and the world. Every niche of American agriculture, from small local organic producers to large intensive producers, adds to the effort to erase hunger from humanity’s experience.
Grange members live across the entire United States from remote rural areas to urban centers. Collectively, we believe that the United States is the world’s most unique country. The United States is a democracy that is the model of freedom for the world. The Bill of Rights is an essential part of our freedoms. The National Grange opposes any legislation that restricts or eliminates these liberties. The bill of rights has defended our freedoms for more than 200 years and defines the uniqueness of our country. We must remember that our constitution remains as relevant today as it has in our history and we must be careful in looking at any changes to these vital amendments.
We as citizens of the United States are stewards of our resources, rights, and way of life. It is our responsibility to insure these are intact for future generations. It is important for us to be vigilant and aware of our environment, our finances, and the activities of our elected leaders. We must hold leaders to a higher standard of ethics and behavior as we have placed our trust in their leadership. As part of the accountability of government agencies, greater discretion should be applied in the awarding of employee bonuses. Rewards should be based upon objective and measurable performance standards. In cases of credible allegations of employee corruption, the bonus must be repaid and returned until said employee is exhonerated. We are currently in an economy where the potential of this nation is being mortgaged for short-term economic solutions. Our nations debit has reached 17.8 trillion dollars and continues to grow daily. It is time for Congress to address our nation’s mountain of growing debt.
In addition, we believe our taxation system must be designed to encourage economic activity and growth. Burdensome government regulations handed down by administrative agencies prohibit growth and discourage entrepreneurship. We must base regulations on legislative action, not on bureaucratic ideology and oversight.
Enemies of America are no longer limited to nation states and they do not bear names such as communist, fascist, or dictator. We must remain vigilant in our battle against terrorism and extremist groups. Regardless of why a person, a group, or a nation chooses to oppose freedom as America and western culture has defined it, we as a people must oppose their actions.
Our brave servicemen and servicewomen have answered the call for the defense of our country and we should make every opportunity to provide good jobs, homes and honored recognition for those who have answered these challenges. Thanks to the effort of these brave Americans, we have the privilege to fly the America flag, the symbol of our nation, with honor, dignity and proper respect. We believe the Pledge of Allegiance and/or The National Anthem should continue to be taught in our schools and should be the opening for all official meetings.
Technology is a vital tool for business and communication. The National Grange believes in the importance of integrated telecommunications networks. We believe that access to affordable and reliable broadband internet service is vital to preserving the quality of rural life in America.
As responsible citizens, we realize that America is a nation of communities. When people focus on working together, our quality of life is elevated. It is to us that falls the task of building these communities and as Grangers, we must respond with faith, hope, and charity to bring people together.
Since the birth of the Grange in 1867, our organization has advocated and taught that we are the stewards of the land and should leave the Earth in a better condition than we found it. The National Grange recognizes that the protection of the environment and the conservation of our national resources are vital national priorities. To protect our most vital resources – water and farmland- we encourage increased efforts to educate the public.
We believe that Americans must not sacrifice their property or surrender their constitutional rights in order to preserve our environment. Adequate and full compensation should be paid in all cases of eminent domain, including, but not limited to, government grazing permits, water easements and areas designated as critical habitat for endangered species. The National Grange must continue to work closely with the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition to continue to work toward reform of this act.
The Grange recognizes the importance of protection of all watersheds and understands that major watersheds do not adhere to boundaries of private and public lands. The National Grange opposes any mandate that suggests all watersheds are to meet the same water quality standards and the “locking up” of watersheds or portions thereof for a single use by any person or agency.
The National Grange advocates a national energy policy that will encourage the development of all forms of domestic energy. Traditional fossil fuels as well as alternative forms of energy such as wind, solar and hydroelectric should be used in an environmentally sound manner. We recognize U.S. agriculture must be part of the solution to the energy crisis.
We encourage the responsible stewardship of our natural resources from all who own or use them. We recognize that responsible stewardship is a balance between use and preservation. The National Grange supports coordination among federal, state and local governments when developing land use management plans. We urge Congress to include voluntary incentive-based assistance for conservation practices by farmers, ranchers, foresters and landowners in future Farm Bills, which will maintain a commitment to conservation.
A quality education opens minds to new possibilities and encourages students to think for themselves. While the Grange commends those who have followed the traditional path for higher education, we need to encourage those who fall outside the term “traditional student” to look at the educational opportunities available offered by Vocational or Trade Schools or other nontraditional degree programs to expand their personal and professional lives.
In support of students stepping out on their own, we believe we must return the power of education to parents, teachers and local school boards. Parents must be an essential part of the decision-making process. The National Grange encourages the teaching of patriotism and financial literacy as a major point of education if we are to see productive, prepared, responsible citizens and future elected officials, while contributing to our local and national economy.
The National Grange offers its continued support of OCARE (Organizations Concerned About Rural Education), the National School Board Associations and other educational associations that seek improvements to the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as supporting the efforts to reduce the pupil to teacher ratio at all levels of education through 12th grade.
We encourage the use of agricultural based curriculums such as Ag in the Classroom and Food for America. Agricultural education not only gives students career skills, leadership skills and life skills, but also a deep sense of purpose.
The National Grange supports legislation requiring education on prevention and handling of bullying of adults and children to be administered by employers and schools.
We strongly encourage Grange members nationwide to play an active role in their local school systems and communities. It is essential for our members to invest in our children’s education through volunteering. Some examples of this are the donation of school supplies (such as the Words for Thirds program) and exposure to volunteerism and community service. These contributions will help us remain positive role models for school children and increase the awareness of our organization.
Health Policy Statement
It is important that each of us take responsibility for our own health.
The National Grange continues to support the repeal of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, returning the responsibility to the local communities to develop their own guidelines to reduce childhood obesity. We would recommend and encourage that the guideline would include, healthy lunches, choice of low fat milk and low fat flavored milks, increased physical activity, limited access to soda machines and snack machines.
The National Grange supports the continuation of research and development of an action level of inorganic arsenic in fruit juices to be at a level no higher than 4.4 ppb.
The National Grange supports the efforts of legislation to include cost effective, early intervention medical care to be covered by private and public insurance programs.
The National Grange supports that a cap to be placed on mal-practice cases to assist in the reduction of health care costs.
The National Grange encourages all Americans to be mindful of prescription drug safety. Educational information should be provided by the prescribing physician, as well as by their pharmacists. We believe the information available through the FDA and the DEA should be provided to patients to give an unbiased opinion of the medication. Patients should be allowed to purchase their prescription from whatever reliable source they choose. The National Grange insists that all prescriptions drugs that are purchased from within the boundaries of the United States should meet or exceed the standards of the FDA and the DEA. Increased efforts must be made for the continuing education of Medicare recipients on the benefits available to them through Medicare.
The National Grange continues to support the prescription disposal program, while encouraging local Granges to get training and to take part in this program in their own local communities.
While not all products that enter the United States can realistically be tested to determine if they are defective or contaminated, we encourage government agencies and consumer safety advocates to be diligent in safety inspection on imported products. The National Grange requests that all products sold in the United States be labeled with the country of origin.
National Grange urges its members to be diligent in their communications with their legislators to continue the cost of living increases to Social Security recipients.
National Grange goes on record encouraging the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to complete its review of Triclosan and if it is deemed to be harmful, ban it.
We believe the National Grange should continue to lobby Congress to ensure that any National Health Care legislation pertains only to health care.
The Grange has long supported an individual’s ability to work for a reasonable wage in a safe environment. The Grange will continue to support workplace safety regulations that protect workers while not placing excessive financial burden on employers.
We believe employee pensions are an obligation. The Grange implores businesses to make provisions to secure employees’ pension benefits and all monies paid into retirement plans to prevent their loss from beneficiaries in the event of a future merger or liquidation of the company.
While we have concerns about new government mandates that increase the cost of business, we also see a need for marketplace regulations that protect consumers and small investors.
While free trade agreements have opened markets to United States products, some U.S. companies have found the cost of labor and operations to be more favorable in other countries. The Grange advocates for the creation of trade agreement that will be beneficial and flexible while protecting not only jobs, but also the American dream. The National Grange encourages Congress to seek a fair and level playing field in global trading when entering into international trade agreements. The National Grange encourages continued negotiations regarding Japan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Global treaties need to be carefully overseen by Congress, and not “Fast Tracked” to ensure that the sovereignty of the United States is not diminished or surrendered.
The Grange urges Congress to reform immigration laws to provide for an orderly, well-regulated immigration process with special focus on H2A program so that an agricultural employer who may have a fully integrated business be allowed to use immigrant workers for all aspects of their business.
The Grange urges our elected officials at all levels to reduce Government regulations that are overwhelming individuals as well as businesses. Legislative bodies and regulatory agencies at all levels of government should periodically review and purge outdated laws and regulations. Congress needs to do its duty of oversight in the implementation of the laws of the land. We demand efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
We recognize that the nation’s law enforcement agencies face the challenge of dealing with crimes as diverse and far-reaching as domestic abuse, terrorism, corporate and consumer fraud and electronic and Internet crimes. The Grange supports stiff appropriate penalties for all crimes and we encourage the review of mandatory sentencing laws.
We acknowledge that social media has made it easier for child predators to interact with children. The Grange supports maximum penalties for those convicted in child predator cases. We support programs in our schools designed to educate, inform and thereby protect children from sexual abuse. We also recognize the increased issue of child abuse and support laws and punishments to protect children from such abuse. The Grange supports programs that will help rural communities address complex issues such as domestic violence and the rights of victims of violent crimes.
The National Grange and many other non-profit organizations in the US are being financially burdened protecting their legitimate federal trademarks from infringements by for-profit businesses, and other entities. We believe that a broad coalition of non-profit organizations that have similar federal trademark protection issues should work together to seek federal legislation to strengthen the trademark rights of nonprofit organizations and to create binding procedures to expedite the resolution of trademark infringements against nonprofit’s trademarks without resorting to costly litigation.
Transportation Policy Statement
Throughout our history, the Grange has had a vested interest in transportation issues. There are many different modes of transportation in existence today. The Grange supports the continued improvement of the existing infrastructure of all modes of transportation.
The National Grange continues to support federal surface transportation legislation that would benefit Rural America.
We continue to support laws requiring drivers to slow down and move over while passing an emergency vehicle that is stopped with lights flashing. We also support increased visibility devices for school buses.
We believe all drivers need to be fully responsible for their driving and guard against distractions from cell phones and other such devices.
Because roadside signs are displayed in English in this country, the National Grange believes that it is important for all drivers to be proficient in English. We encourage states to administer drivers’ license tests in English to meet the economic realities of today’s world. That evolution needs to occur now. The Grange supports two options. First, we recommend eliminating the prepayment requirement for future employee retirement health benefits, saving the USPS $5.5 billion annually. The other option is that Congress release the USPS from Congressional oversight and allow them to make their own decisions and respond to market conditions as they see fit, while providing the last mile of service.
The Grange opposes reductions of service to rural America. A sustainable and prospering postal service is a necessity for rural America; and we urge the USPS to vigorously pursue ways to keep the same quality service it presently provides.