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Legislatively Speaking
Northeast Alliance sets legislative agenda

By Gordon Gibson, State Legislative Director

  MAY 2008 --

The Northeast Grange Legislative Alliance will lobby our congressional delegations in Washington on May 12 and 13 concerning regional issues that affect the seven northeastern states.
On the issue of Trade, we will lobby to use food sanctions only when other diplomatic alternatives have failed and not use food or food producers as political pawns for homeland security.  We will urge Congress to give the President the authority to negotiate for reductions in trade barriers, elimination of trade restrictions against U.S. agricultural exports and protections to ensure a level playing field for U.S. workers.  We will also urge Congress to work for an adequate food supply for the entire world through increased funding for research, education, and development of programs that improve the ability of local farmers to meet the needs of their people in areas that do not have enough food now.  To ensure the safety and security of our food supply, the Northeast Alliance will advocate the protection of our animal industry by increasing inspections of all livestock, feed, meats, dairy and animal by-products imported into the United States.
The group will ask Congress to develop a national dairy management program that recognizes regional differences in costs, amounts of production and the availability of markets.  We will ask our legislators to increase the federal support price of milk to benefit both producers and consumers and expand the successful Milk Income Loss Contracts (MILC) program.  We will also urge Congress to maintain the legal differences between real dairy products and “imitation” or “substitute” products, regardless of their nutritional value.  The group will also seek to have all milk prices quoted in dollars per gallon rather than the current practice of dollars per hundredweight.
In the areas of energy, conservation and alternative energy resources, the group believes Congress should set goals to generate at least 25% of our domestic energy needs from renewable resources from America’s family farms by January 1, 2025, develop domestic energy resources from public lands and offshore in an environmentally sound manner, make energy saving infrastructure improvements in rural areas and restore the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s oversight authority over the natural gas market and other energy markets.
The Northeast Alliance will ask Congress to adopt and enforce environmental laws based upon realistic and obtainable goals and that these laws be enforced uniformly throughout the United States.  
The group will also ask Congress to fund all soil and water conservation programs required by the Clean Water Act, as well as fund water quality studies regarding groundwater contamination while at the same time protecting the rights of land owners over environmental regulations.  Further, the Northeast Alliance will ask Congress to adopt legislation prohibiting the removal of land from agricultural production for the benefit of parks, forests, wildlife preserves and wilderness areas.  They will ask Congress to maintain a balance between public and private lands throughout the nation and require that land be taken by eminent domain only for truly public purposes such as transportation and utility rights of way.
The Northeast Alliance is concerned with health care issues.  We will ask Congress to provide all Americans with 100% tax deductions for health insurance and long term care insurance costs, medical savings accounts, medical flexible spending accounts, nationwide association health plans and competitive Medicare Advantage plans.  
We will also ask Congress to approve a market-based approach of offering the widest variety of Medicare Part D prescription drug programs to seniors and ensure continued access to modern drug technologies.
The Northeast Grange Legislative Alliance is made up of the Legislative Committees in the six New England states and New York.  The alliance meets regularly to discuss and cooperate on legislative matters affecting the northeast region.


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