No doubt, the most important aspect of our 2015 Annual Convention in Missoula was the delegate process. While it may not be the most glamorous part of a fun week of events, activities and speakers, the two-day delegate session is when Farm Bureau members from every part of Montana have the opportunity to voice their opinions and shape the policy positions MFBF will take in the future.

An overview of Montana Farm Bureau's 2015 policy changes:

Last month, county Farm Bureaus proposed 32 resolutions; 16 to add new policy to the MFBF book and 16 amending or deleting existing policies. Additionally, there were eight resolutions proposed for submission to the American Farm Bureau Federation and seven Inter-organizational resolutions. 18 out of 30 county Farm Bureaus proposed policy with many counties submitting multiple resolutions.

Of the MFBF policy resolutions, the voting delegates passed 22 and failed 10. Seven of the AFBF resolutions passed and will be forwarded to AFBF and their Policy Development Committee. Inter-organizational resolutions are an opportunity for a county Farm Bureau to communicate directly with the MFBF Board of Directors and ask for the support or pursuance of an idea or program. Three of the seven inter-organizational resolutions passed and were presented to the MFBF Board at their post-convention meeting.

If you're a Farm Bureau member, you can access a copy of our updated 2015 Policy Book online here, and see these updates in action. Policy lines that are bold were added or changed in the 2015 delegate session.

How your ideas become Farm Bureau policy:

Before a policy may be discussed on the delegate floor it first has to be voted on and forwarded by a county Farm Bureau. This happens through the policy development process and at county annual meetings each year. If a member has a policy they’d like added to the book, or a current policy they feel needs amending, they must first propose it as a policy resolution at their county’s policy development meeting. If your county Farm Bureau doesn’t have a policy meeting, resolutions may also be presented at the annual meeting.

Once you’ve presented your idea, other members in the county can debate, discuss and perhaps assist in refining the language, if needed. No county Farm Bureau may forward resolutions to the state office without first voting on and approving them at the county annual meeting. All resolutions from counties are due to the state office by October 1 of each year. They are then reviewed by the Policy Development Committee and prepared for debate and discussion on the delegate floor at annual convention.

Once at annual convention, voting delegates from each county spend two days pouring over the policy resolutions, discussing, amending, and ultimately passing or failing each resolution.

What makes the Farm Bureau policy process so unique:

This grassroots process is what makes our organization so powerful. We have the collective voices of Montana’s farmers and ranchers written on those pages. The policy book is what guides all the policy decisions and stances on issues that MFBF makes. It gives true testament to the statement, “We are the Voice of Agriculture.”

-Chelcie Cargill, Director of State Affairs