MFBF President Hans McPherson recently returned from Washington D.C. where he attended the AFBF Policy Development meetings and saw all three of our Congressional Delegation.  The President is often the face of our organization and President McPherson takes his responsibility to all the MFBF members back home seriously.  We visited with President McPherson to discuss his ‘Top Three’ from his time in D.C.

AFBF Policy Resolutions Meeting

Held last week in Washington, D.C. this meeting is where all policy resolutions submitted to AFBF by state Farm Bureaus are reviewed.  All of the state presidents attend and are split into subcommittees charged with reviewing all submitted policies.   They check for redundancy, conflicts with current policy and proper placement in the AFBF policy book. The subcommittees can reword and/or clarify the policies.

They can also throw out policy if they don’t agree with it, which is different from our process here in Montana. That’s why it’s important for state presidents and staff to be there to defend their state’s policy and make sure it gets on the delegate floor at the AFBF Convention for a final vote. Sometimes the presidents from other states and regions need further explanation, so President McPherson and MFBF National Affairs Director, Nicole Rolf, were on hand to do just that. 

President McPherson carried five policies passed by the Montana delegates during our convention to Washington D.C.  He says one of the highlights of the trip was the fact that four out of five of MFBF’s resolutions were accepted:

  • Beef Check Off

Beef Check Off, new line 2.5

Half of the Beef Check Off stay in the state of origin without the requirement that producers sign a form to keep check off funds in state. 

This policy was submitted by Northwest Counties Farm Bureau.  It was amended by the subcommittee to read:

“Half of the Beef Check-off should go automatically to the state Beef Council of origin, without requiring producers to sign a waiver or grant written consent. Each state beef council may keep their half or remit a portion to the national level.”

Fun fact: after the meetings we learned that not every state has a ‘Beef Council’, so we wouldn’t be surprised if this policy were to be amended slightly on the Delegate Floor in Nashville.

  • Federal Lands

National Forest Management, pg. 197, new line 1.4:

We support the Forest Service and BLM managing forests by active thinning of trees for increased timber volume production and wildfire reduction plus logging of dead, insect infested and diseased trees.

This policy was submitted by Sweet Grass County Farm Bureau and accepted without amendments.

Wildland Fires, pg. 203, new line 1.2:

We support Federal and State Land management agencies pursuing aggressive Initial Attack procedures on wildland fires wher it is safe to do so.

Submitted by Northwest Counties, this policy was accepted without amendments.

  • Regulatory Review and Reform

Pg. 8, new line 9.6:

We support reforming the Equal Access to Justice Act in order to minimize the negative effect it has on sound management decisions concering our public lands.

Submitted by Front Range Counties Farm Bureau , this policy was not accepted.  The subcommittee felt this topic was thoroughly covered by exisiting policy in the AFBF Policy Book which can be found in Section 156/Litigation.

  • Water Use

Pg. 228, new line 5.1.12:

We support the continued investment, repair and maintenance of the St. Mary/Milk River irrigation project.

Submitted by Phillips County and accepted without amendments.

President McPherson and Vice President Cyndi Johnson will represent MFBF as voting delegates during the AFBF Annual Convention January 5-10, 2018 in Nashville, TN.  If passed during the Delegate Session in Nashville, these grassroots policies will be placed in the 2018 AFBF Policy Book and become guiding directive to staff working on national issues. 

Meetings with Congressional Delegation

This time of the year, it can be rare to secure a face-to-face meeting with a member of Congress.  However, President McPherson and Nicole were able to do just that and had very positive meetings with Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Representative Greg Gianforte.  The topics of discussion included Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), Comprehensive Tax Reform, NAFTA/Trade, Farm Bill and a wild horse and burro provision to the Appropriations Bill and Senator Daines’ Wilderness Study Area release bill.

Western State Presidents Round Table

In D.C., President McPherson and other western state Farm Bureau presidents met to discuss important issues.  “Of the 13 western state presidents 10 have less than 2 years of experience, so these meetings are pretty important,” said President McPherson.  With the recent turnover in many western states, it’s critical for these leaders to communicate regularly about common issues each state is facing.  Often, state leaders and staff will collaborate to tackle issues that impact all of the western U.S.  During this meeting, state presidents discussed the proposed AFBF dues increase, water rights and use, natural resource management, public land use and the Antiquities Act.

President McPherson’s role as the President of MFBF often takes him outside the Big Sky State to get things done.  After this trip, President McPherson says he was most proud of being tasked with carrying and representing members’ policies during the resolutions process.

“When we get to the delegate session at AFBF, Montana only has two delegates out of 353 and we have to work hard to pass ourpolicies.  So, these meetings in D.C. were important.  I got to carry these policies forward and educate my peers about our issues before we’re on the delegate floor with 300 other people.”

But the big take away here is the power of the grass roots.  “These policies were hatched at the county level in Sweet Grass, Phillips, Front Range and Northwest counties and being able to help pass these policies to the next level goes to show that the work our members do in their communities and their county Farm Bureau board meetings is not in vain—what they do matters immensely.”