Welcome to the fourth installment of our guest blogging series from Farm Bureau members who represent Montana on national Issues Advisory Committees. Bruce Wright is a Farm Bureau member from Gallatin County.

I'm the owner/operator of Bruce Wright Farms, Inc., a small grains farm near Bozeman, Montana and am a co-owner of Montana Gluten Free Processors.

I attended the Farm Policy Issue Advisory Committee Meeting. With the assistance of Mary Kay Thatcher, the Committee reviewed the balance of power in the House of Representatives, which currently stands at 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats. This review led to a discussion of the status of the budget and the cuts to crop insurance proposed by the administration. The Kind-Flake bill was also discussed, as were the appropriation bills currently being worked on. These bills will have the greatest impact on agriculture. Other issues considered by the Committee were the possibility of getting cottonseed oil included with other oilseeds, and shifting the dockage levels on peanuts to better reflect market needs.

Two speakers were invited in to provide us with greater clarity on certain topics. Lance Honig with NASS gave us an update on crop survey results and how NASS uses these responses to calculate payments. A comparison of NASS and RMA  data was made, noting that while RMA information is somewhat more accurate, it only reflects data from producers who carry crop insurance. The other speaker was Daren Bakst with the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation has done a number of reports critical of current agricultural policy. Some of their positions are;

  • Repeal the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs.

  • Seek Private Solutions to Risk Management.

  • Separate Food Stamps from Agricultural Programs.

They also advocate some positions closer to AFBF policy, such as freeing agricultural trade from intervention and opposition to mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.

For more information about these issues, contact Nicole Rolf, Montana Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs and eastern Montana regional manager at nicoler@mfbf.org or call her at 406-232-1559. Visit fbadvocacy.org for more information on how to advocate on important issues like this. 

About the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committee:

Five Montana Farm Bureau members have been selected to serve on the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committees (IAC).  This is the second year for the IAC programs, which have been changed from the previous commodity committees.

The IAC was formed so membership would have substantial input in refining and implementing AFBF policy objectives.  IAC members work throughout the year talking with the media to helping develop comments on regulations, giving testimony at Congressional hearings and providing direct input to the resolutions process, among other services to their fellow farmers and ranchers.

Read more about the Federal Lands Committee from Tom DePuydt, the Environmental Advisory Committee from Gary Heibertshausen, and the Market Structures Committee from Larry Switzer.