Farm bureau president says education his priority

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FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Educating young children, their parents and the public about agriculture is one of Charles Brault's top agenda items as the new Frederick County Farm Bureau president.

The local farm bureau implements a number of programs during the year. Brault's favorite program can best be described in three words, he said: "It's education, education, education."

Many farm bureau members have been working hard, in cooperation with other organizations, to provide reading material and hands-on experiences for young students, Brault said.

"When we educate children, we also reach the parents. Everyone needs to know where their food comes from and the importance of farming to us all," said Brault, who also is a farmer.

"Our legislators need to know more about how we farm and the impact their decisions, both positive and negative, have on the farming community and the local food supply."

Members of the local farm bureau recently returned from the 96th annual meeting of the Maryland Farm Bureau in Ocean City, where the delegates approved a 48-page resolution that lists agriculture education as a priority for farmers.

The resolution encourages the introduction or expansion of agricultural programs in community colleges throughout the state and supports "an effective, systematic instructional program about agriculture in public schools."

The resolution calls for a curriculum that includes a course -- "Introduction to Agriculture Science" -- starting in the middle school and continuing into high school to generate awareness of the importance of agriculture to the society and to ensure future generations of well-trained leaders for the agricultural industry.

The resolution also urges the public schools to implement the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education in at least one high school in each county.

Resolutions made for the new year often are not kept, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement to farmers, "but ensuring that farmers' and ranchers' voices are heard, is one resolution we do not back away from."

Getting to know the new members of Congress as they take office and acquire committee assignments is important, Stallman said.

"It will be important for Farm Bureau to get to know these members and pay close attention to the makeup of the new committees, especially those important to agriculture and rural communities," Stallman said.

Another farm bureau priority for the new year is working to minimize the effects of taxes such as the estate tax and capital gains tax, Stallman said.

"We will also continue our work in the regulatory arena and in the courts on environmental issues, like caring for the Chesapeake Bay, and we will work toward comprehensive labor reform.

"We need a solution that addresses agriculture's unique labor needs with a market-based, flexible agricultural worker program, which reflects real-life workforce challenges for all crop and livestock producers ... and while getting the country's financial house in order is a priority for Farm Bureau members, it will also be important to make sure that farming programs receive adequate funding to carry out their missions without taking disproportionate cuts," Stallman said.

Brault said he agrees with Stallman's comments, adding, "We need a new Farm Bill, a reformed tax code, and a resolution to the ongoing budget mess in Congress.

"I remain ever hopeful that the new Congress will actually pay attention to the American people and govern instead of squabbling like spoiled children," Brault said.

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

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