PHOENIX – Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention today approved a host of public policy measures designed to help assure a prosperous future for farmers, ranchers and everyone who depends on them for food, fuel and fiber.
Delegates covered the full range of agriculture policy over the day-long session. Resolutions passed included important measures covering regulatory reform, crop insurance, the inclusion of food assistance in the upcoming farm bill, school nutrition, biotechnology, energy and more.
“The actions taken today by our farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation represent the culmination of our year-long grassroots policy process,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It also provides a roadmap for actions AFBF will take to implement our policies throughout this year, and I am optimistic about those prospects.”
MFBF’s new vice president, Cyndi Johnson, said, “Sitting through the American Farm Bureau delegate process makes me appreciate our state process. Our Montana Farm Bureau delegates are very disciplined on policy development, with our county Farm Bureau members doing their homework before they introduce a resolution. There wasn’t as much discussion or explanation on the American Farm Bureau delegate floor as I thought there might be, but they do open the entire policy book for consideration even if nothing has been proposed on a subject.”
Johnson said several of Montana Farm Bureau’s policy got voted in, including one on cover crops and crop insurance, changing the classification on farm labor and new rules for electronic logbooks for trucking livestock and commodities.
“My husband, Ken, and I have been attending the AFBF Convention for several years,” the Conrad farmer said. “It’s always interesting to take ag tours, attend the informative workshops and talk to other farmers and ranchers from across the country.”
MFBF President Hans McPherson commented on the delegate session, “The most important policy I believe was the commitment to remove overregulation by government agencies and reforming immigration so farmers and ranchers can get the help they need. As American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall often says, ‘Would you rather import labor or food?’”
The Stevensville farmer added, “It’s refreshing to watch policy that started with two Farm Bureau members over a cup of coffee in a small town in Montana. Those farmers took that policy to their county Farm Bureau and then it went to the Montana Farm Bureau to be voted on. That policy then went to the American Farm Bureau delegates session, was adopted into their policy book, and will now be used by AFBF lobbyists in Washington, D.C. This convention shows that Farm Bureau can present a united voice. I truly believe there is a bright future for Montana and American agriculture.”
Delegates approved policy supporting regulatory reform, including legislation to eliminate “judicial deference,” which has essentially nullified the power of the courts to serve as a check on agency abuses.
Also on the topic of regulations, delegates approved policy to oppose agency advocacy campaigns in support of their own proposed regulations.
Delegates passed a sense-of-the-body resolution calling for comprehensive regulatory reform, driving home the importance of the issue for farmers and ranchers.
New language was approved to require the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies to coordinate and cooperate in a meaningful way with state and local governments in making land management plans and decisions as required by Congress. They also supported mandatory recusal for federal officers who face conflicts of interest in their work.
Hunger and Nutrition
Delegates overwhelmingly approved language supporting efforts to fund nutrition programs including food assistance and school lunches through the same, unified farm bill that funds farm safety-net programs.
Delegates also called on Congress to support incorporating all types of domestic fruits and vegetables into the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for schools. Delegates supported the use of fresh and locally grown product when available.
Delegates reaffirmed strong support for risk-management and safety-net tools to defend against volatile commodity markets.
Delegates reaffirmed support for flexibility in the H-2A program that would allow workers to seek employment from more than one farmer/rancher.
Delegates reaffirmed support for the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers, voting that farmers should be compensated when their data is used by third parties. Delegates supported sale of proprietary data to third parties.
The American Farm Bureau Convention, held January 6-11 in Phoenix, AZ, attracted more than 5,000 farmers and ranchers from across the country.