National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded President Obama’s leadership on climate change, tax reform and reopening trade with Cuba, while encouraging the president to reconsider his support for trade agreements that export U.S. jobs and add to our deficits. “Clearly, climate change is happening right before our very eyes, increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, requiring better risk management tools for farmers today and legislative action by the federal government to address this issue,” said Johnson. “Farmers are in a position to help mitigate many aspects of climate change.” According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately six percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originating in the United States come from agricultural activities, although carbon sequestration by forests and agricultural lands offsets approximately 12 percent of annual GHG emissions with the capacity to offset 20 percent of GHG emissions from all sectors of the economy. “Family farmers are ready to do our part to address climate change,” he said.

Johnson also applauded the president’s vow to revisit the tax code, making it more fair for all and easier to understand. “NFU has always supported a more progressive tax code, and the need to retain tax provisions that make it possible for American family farmers to continue to produce the best, most abundant and most plentiful food, fuel, fiber and feed on the planet,” he added.

Johnson also praised the Administration’s move to reopen relations with Cuba, noting that it had been a major goal of NFU for years. “The trade embargo has failed for decades to bring about meaningful change in Cuba,” said Johnson. “Lifting the embargo not only opens new markets for U.S. agriculture products but also gives new hope of economic prosperity to the good people of Cuba.”

Johnson also urged the president to reconsider moving forward with the massive trade agreements currently moving in Congress, noting that free trade agreements have historically been a very lopsided proposal for the United States. “Free trade agreements are not only exporting American jobs, they are contributing to an increasing trade deficit that has become a major drag on the economy,” he said. “For 2014, the U.S. trade deficit is expected to total about $500 billion and these agreements are likely to add to that number,” he said. “The US government needs to clearly direct our trade negotiators to conclude trade agreements that will erase our trade deficit and lead to more balanced trade in the future.”