Resolutions originating from Montana Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy process were voted on during the American Farm Bureau Convention in Austin. Three-hundred and forty-six voting delegates from across the country spent January 21 discussing and voting on what will become American Farm Bureau policy for 2020.

Montana Farm Bureau Vice President Cyndi Johnson sat on the voting delegate floor along with MFBF President Hans McPherson and several other members who rotated as alternates in the two seats delegated to Montana. The number of delegates each state is allowed is based on membership numbers: Montana Farm Bureau has close to 21,000 members.

Resolutions varied from animal care to commodity markets, predator control to cattle I.D.

“The delegate body voted for the elimination of the Army Corps of Engineers’ requiring a mitigation fee for stream bed stabilization,” said Johnson. “In other words, the Corps needs to quit charging us money to do the right thing.”

A resolution passed that would prevent the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture releasing reports from studies that had untruths in them. “For instance, there was a study regarding the nutritional value of peas and lentils and damage those products can do to a dog. We oppose those two agencies from releasing reports without peer review or adequate science reviews.”

Other Montana-originated policies that passed supported euthanizing any apex predator that had been trapped by any agency because the animal had been deemed a problem animal. Another MFBF policy passed that supported the USDA implementing a comprehensive educational system for producers as they transition from a national uniform ear-tagging system to a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system. 

Johnson pointed out two policies that passed regarding animal care that weren’t from Montana, but held interest to farmers and ranchers: One opposed any effort to ban the use of horses in rodeos, agriculture, transportation, entertainment or exhibition; the other supported making it a criminal offence to willfully harass livestock with a drone.

One policy that passed opposed any efforts to “re-wild” the West, while several others centered around farmers and ranchers having the right to repair their own equipment, including rebooting a tractor’s operating system.

“Of course, immigration and farm labor were prevalent issues for the delegates,” Johnson said. “It was good to see a resolution pass that opposed the agricultural industry paying more than any other industry pays for labor; we shouldn’t be required to pay a higher minimum wage because it’s agriculture.”

Johnson noted, “We were really excited to see Montana’s policies make the final cut. There are a couple that didn’t, but they will get more attention in advisory committee meetings in Washington, D.C. in February. The delegates who come from all over the country to the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting understand the process, they get it right and pass good policy. It’s always an honor to sit on the delegate floor and realize you’re a part of this amazing grassroots organization.”