Legislative Policy Book

Agriculture

Citizenship & Public Affairs

Conservation & Natural Resources

Education & Health

Labor & Judiciary

Taxation & Transportation

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Policy Statement

For 146 years, the National Grange has been working to improve agriculture. 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 agricultural 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 and we must continue to edu­cate our fellow citizens about such practices.

The National Grange urges the adoption of a Farm Bill that continues to support a strong agricultural economy. Some of the areas that should be addressed are:

  1. We must ensure that credit is available to farmers re­gardless of size.
  2.  Rural development issues must continue to be a prior­ity in order to provide the necessary infrastructure to get our product from field to table.
  3. Research and funding of the Extension Program must be continued if we wish to ensure the availability of innovative practices and new tools beneficial to agricultural societies.
  4. The creation, improvement and implementation of both primary and secondary sources of energy through ag­riculture must remain a priority to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
  5. Crop insurance and disaster relief must be adequately funded in order to serve as a primary way of helping farmers deal with unforeseen weather and market fluctuations.

In the past several years, many proposals have been put forward to control the volatility of milk prices. The Nation­al Grange will be actively involved to ensure that the best possible method of milk pricing is adopted. Any legislation proposing to revamp the dairy program should include ad­equate safety nets that will help to keep the dairy industry strong in the United States.

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.

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 Grange continues to support extensive testing to prove safety of all new genetically modified crops. However, until credible scientific studies indicate that a real danger ex­ists, Americans should oppose mandatory labeling of ge­netically modified products as such labeling falsely implies differences where none exist.

One of the major issues facing animal agriculture in our country is the effort of animal rights groups to define “humane treatment” of animals. The National Grange should work to­gether with likeminded groups to ensure that sound science is used in determining the humane treatment of animals.

The National Grange strongly supports agriculture edu­cation at all levels, including agriculture science and the Co­operative Extension Service. The Grange also encourages the partnership between 4-H, FFA and cooperative exten­sions to draw on and develop leadership abilities.

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.

The Grange continues to pledge its support for rural America and family-owned and operated farms and ranch­es, both small and large. We support farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture producing and selling homegrown agricultural products. We call upon Congress to support programs and policies that will help sustain and enhance family farms by increasing the net farm income, providing economic and tax incentives and tax credits for soil and water conservation – without escalating the advan­tages to non-farm investors.

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.

 



Policy Statement

The citizens of the United State of America live in a de­mocracy that is the model of freedom for the world. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee each citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Free speech is an essential part of our democracy. The National Grange opposes the People’s Rights Amendment and any other legislation that restricts or eliminates the right of Americans to speak individually or collectively on any issue.

Our way of life has been challenged many times through­out history. In every case, our American servicemen and servicewomen have answered the call for the defense of our country. We should make every opportunity to provide good jobs, good homes and honored recognition for those who have answered these challenges. As citizens, we have the authority to fly the America flag, the symbol of our na­tion, with honor, dignity and proper respect. We believe the Pledge of Allegiance should be continued to be taught in our schools and should be the opening for all official meetings, both public and private.

We are currently in an economy where the potential of this nation is being mortgaged for short term economic so­lutions. We believe that the future of America requires us to accept our responsibility for the financial health of our great nation. It is time to demand that the government live within its means, just as every individual American must do. The Grange also calls for all levels of government to use the generally accepted accounting principles that private busi­nesses are required to use. We require business to operate with fiscal rules and be accountable for their decisions. The government, at all levels, needs to do the same.

The National Grange believes that a free market system works best. We feel it is imperative that the government, military and private citizens buy American-made products whenever possible. Let the American free market find so­lutions, develop new technologies and provide high-quality services to the consumer. Government must stop its end­less expansion and meddling with the economy.

Our future as Americans requires everyone to accept their responsibilities to their homes, communities and govern­ment. The Grange, as a community service organization, is a perfect venue for the work that needs to be done in our country, serving in whatever capacity as needed. We must meet, make decisions and participate in our local, state and federal government.

The greatness of America has always been rooted in pri­vate enterprise. Burdensome taxes and regulations strangle the ability of citizens to develop and grow small businesses. The National Grange advocates lower taxes and less regula­tion to encourage entrepreneurs. Our elected officials must be ethical, accountable and ensure that uncertainty for busi­ness does not begin with government.

We continue to advocate a strong Social Security system that maintains solvency, provides adequate support to recipients to maintain a decent living existence and completes the intent of “social security.”

America is a nation of communities. The things that di­rectly benefit most citizens are based in our local communi­ties. Schools, healthcare, jobs, charity and daily recreation are provided not by the federal or state government, but by local people working together. When people focus on working together within our local communities, our quality of life is elevated. The Grange believes that community is the essential building block of our great nation. It is to us that falls the task of building our communities. Our challenges are ever changing and Grange members must respond with faith, hope and charity to bring people together.

 


Policy Statement

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 natural 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 habitats for endan­gered species. The National Grange must continue to work closely with the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition to obtain passage reforms.

The National Grange advocates a national energy policy that will encourage the development of all forms of domes­tic energy, traditional and alternative, in an environmentally sound manner. We recognize U.S. agriculture is part of the solution to the energy crisis.

The Grange recognizes the importance of and 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.

We encourage the responsible stewardship of our nat­ural resources from all who own or use them. We recog­nize 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 the proposed Farm Bill, which will maintain a commitment to conservation.

 


Policy Statement — Education

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 offered by vocational or trade schools and 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 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 OCRE (Organizations Concerned About Rural Education), the National School Board Associations and other educa tional 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.

We encourage the use of agriculture-based curriculums such as Ag in the Classroom and Food for America. Agricul­ture education not only gives students career skills, leader­ship skills and life skills, but also a deep sense of purpose.

The National Grange encourages the involvement of par­ents, teachers and students in the awareness and preven­tion of bullying in America’s schools at all levels of education.

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.

 

Policy Statement — Health

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 include healthy lunches, choice of low fat milk and low fat flavored milks, increased physical activity and limited access to soda and snack machines.

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 malpractice cases to assist in the reduction of healthcare 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 the pharmacist. 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 prescription 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.

The 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.

In conclusion, we believe the National Grange should continue to lobby Congress to ensure that any national healthcare legislation pertains only to healthcare.

 



Policy Statement

The Grange has long supported an individual’s ability to work for a reasonable wage in a safe environment. The Grange will continue to seek workplace safety regulations that protect workers while not placing excessive financial burden on employers.

We believe employee pensions are an obligation. The Grange would implore businesses to make provisions to secure employees’ pension benefits and all monies paid into retirement plans to prevent them from being lost by 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.

The Grange urges lawmakers to continue to regulate credit card issuers. The Grange supports limits on fees and charges imposed on responsible cardholders who pay their entire balance in full each month. The Grange supports regulations that will protect seniors from the un­scrupulous practices of some reverse mortgage lenders.

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 encourages the state and federal government to provide incentives to companies to retain domestic jobs. 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 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.

We recognize 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.

The Internet has made it easier for child predators to contact children. The Grange supports maximum pen­alties for those convicted in child predator cases. The Grange supports programs in our schools such as those described in Erin’s Law, designed to educate, inform and thereby protect children from sexual 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.

Finally, the Grange urges legislative bodies and regula­tory agencies at all levels of government to periodically review and purge outdated laws and regulations.

 



Policy Statement — Taxation

The Grange has a long and consistent history in support of sound fiscal policy. We believe budgets should be bal­anced. We recognize there are times or circumstances to support deficit spending and the creation of debt, but that must be carefully evaluated. However, we have a grave con­cern about the tremendous increase in the federal deficit and the impact this will have on future generations.

The Grange supports taxing policies that levy both per­sonal and business taxes based on ability to pay. Previous federal tax reform efforts have only resulted in more confu­sion. Many millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours are spent each year to file tax returns. This is an overlooked cost of our tax collection system; therefore, we seek a simpler set of tax regulations.

For most farm and small business owners, their farms and businesses are their largest retirement assets. We need tax policies that assure that our current generation of fam­ily farmers and business owners are allowed to retire with dignity and that their productive resources are transferred to a new generation of family farmers and small business owners. Until such time as the estate tax is completely abol­ished, we support passage of legislation that would exempt farms and ranches from federal estate taxes after the death of its owner, as long as ownership stays in the family.

We support user taxes with revenue used for the intend­ed program. Programs, once authorized, should receive adequate appropriations. We oppose unfunded and under-funded mandates.

 
Policy Statement — Transportation

Throughout our history, the Grange has had a vested interest in transportation issues. Although there are many different modes of transportation in existence today, the Grange supports the continued improvement of the existing infrastructure for 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 believe this should become law in all 50 states. 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.


Policy Statement — Post Reform

The National Grange realizes the United States Postal Service serves a vital purpose in our local communities. The United States Postal Service (USPS) needs to evolve 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.