As for other council efforts, Grobmyer said the Ag Council Conservation Outreach is a newer initiative. “This is done in light of the water plans and some regulatory efforts by the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service. There’s a lot going on related to the hypoxia issue in the Gulf of Mexico, endangered species and groundwater use.

“We need to be more active in telling our story, what we’re doing for conservation on the farm. One of the things we’ve done recently is partner with Delta Plastics on an H2O Initiative. That aims to provide best management practices to conserve water. Delta Plastics has made available their PipePlanner (irrigation scheduler) at no cost to the farmer. That’s a huge deal and we will help spread the word.”

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As for policy at the state level, “there are a lot of things coming up,” said Grobmyer. “Maintaining the integrity of the promotion boards is a major issue as is working to promote the University (of Arkansas’) Division of Agriculture and its funding needs. While the rest of higher education has seen an increase in funding over the last few years, unfortunately the Division of Agriculture, despite state surpluses, has not.”

The council also “always keep taxes at the forefront. We want to maintain tax benefits that we received in the last legislative session. Those include a grain dryer energy exemption and another for cotton gins.

“We’re also trying to get some movement on scrap-dealing. We’ve been able to get some incremental change but it’s a difficult task because dealers have deep pockets and deal in cash. Hopefully, we can do something to slow the rate of theft off farm operations.”

On the federal front, Grobmyer pointed to a tax-related issue under Section 179 of the tax code governing equipment depreciation. “I imagine Congress will do something on that right before Christmas. It’s very unfortunate that we have to wait for that. Look at what’s happened with John Deere layoffs. I’m sure other equipment dealers are experiencing the same. If Congress doesn’t act, the situation will only get worse.”

The federal fiscal year will end at the end of September. “At some point, Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to get us through 2015. That covers the whole government and there tend to be a lot of policy riders that are attached. We’ll make sure those are good for agriculture.”

Two trade agreements are currently being negotiated: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Investment and Trade Partnership (TTIP). “How will those impact agricultural trade? We’ll need to keep monitoring those and work with other commodity groups to keep an eye on what’s happening in Washington, D.C.”

How is U.S. rice faring in current trade agreement negotiations?