NEW ORLEANS – Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention today adopted policies to guide the organization’s work during its centennial year on key topics such as farm bill implementation, cell-cultured food products, trade, rural broadband access and rural mental health programs.
“As our organization has done for the last 100 years, delegates from across the nation came together to express a unified grassroots voice on issues vital to the success of our farms, ranches and rural communities,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “It was fitting to have President Trump and numerous members of Congress among our attendees as we kicked off our centennial celebration. We continue to face a challenging farm economy and we stand ready to work with Congress and the Trump administration to address the issues important to our farm and ranch families.”
One of the Montana Farm Bureau policies that had been sent to AFBF for consideration was to support immediate repeal of the harmful Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
“The great news is WOTUS was repealed in the time between our convention in November and the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in New Orleans,” said Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson. “What’s so impressive about Farm Bureau is policy truly comes from grassroots starting with the county Farm Bureaus.”
Delegates urged the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible. The current shutdown means farmers and ranchers are being delayed in securing loans and crop insurance as well as disaster and trade assistance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of important provisions of the farm bill.
Delegates voted to favor negotiations to resolve trade disputes, rather than the use of tariffs or withdrawal from agreements. They also voted to support the United States’ entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Delegates adopted a comprehensive policy to support innovation in cell-based food products while ensuring a level playing field for traditional protein. Delegates affirmed that the Agriculture Department is best equipped to be the primary regulator of new cell-based products as it encouraged USDA to utilize the Food and Drug Administration’s expertise in food safety. The policy also calls for complete and accurate product labels to ensure that consumers have all the pertinent information they need.
Delegates supported improved broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. AFBF will work with the Federal Communications Commission to address map inaccuracies.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Delegates supported increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues. Delegates also voted to support funding for the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network, which was included in the 2018 farm bill. AFBF will urge appropriations committees to fund this program, which is critical to address the mental health issues faced by many farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans