Tackling issues from pollinators to animal welfare, Illinois Farm Bureau leaders discussed proposed policy changes and rewrites during last week’s two-day Resolutions Committee meeting in Bloomington.
“It’s always a great opportunity to review current and emerging issues that are on the minds of members,” said IFB Vice President David Erickson, who serves as chairman of the Resolutions Committee. “There was a good discussion, and good participation by counties in the process.”
In all, the committee reviewed 55 proposed policy changes submitted by county Farm Bureaus and the Policy Review Committee (PRC), which recommends streamlining and reorganizing the policy book. Delegates will debate approved policy resolutions during December’s IFB annual meeting in Chicago.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee discussed pollinator habitat seed contaminated with herbicide-resistant weeds and Palmer amaranth. A couple of subcommittee members noted they planted pollinator habitat on their land or on habitat demonstration plots elsewhere.
While supporting the planting of pollinator habitat, subcommittee members felt strongly that efforts are needed to keep Palmer and other resistant weeds from spreading. Resolutions Committee members agreed and recommended the expansion of existing Farm Bureau policy on weed control.
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With extensive input from the PRC, the subcommittee focused on consolidation and updates of existing Farm Bureau policy related to government conservation programs and communication and public image.
“There are several conservation programs and not everyone understands which program is under which agency,” explained Heather Poppy, chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee. By consolidating related conservation policies, the subcommittee’s goal is to provide “clarity for farmers” about which agencies oversee which programs and whom to contact, she added.
Referring to conservation program and communication policy, Poppy said, “We have a lot of great policies. If we streamline them, we can make them more efficient.”
Possible consolidation and streamlining also received attention from the State/Local Government Subcommittee, according to Chairman Jay Niemann of Montgomery County.
The subcommittee discussed proposals for voters to approve the consolidation and/or streamlining of their local units of government. “We’ve got townships that want to share equipment and expertise,” Niemann noted.
Niemann suggested ways to achieve cost-effective local government services will generate discussion during the IFB annual meeting. “In townships and small communities, times are tough. Taxes are going up. We have to work together, and share equipment and personnel,” Niemann said.
The Agricultural Production and National Issues Subcommittee dived into the organization’s proposed priorities for the 2018 farm bill debate and discussed proposals addressing animal health and welfare practices. The committee supported a proposal by Logan County that outlines steps the Illinois State Fair should take regarding testing animals in show events for illegal drugs. It also signed off on consolidating and reformatting IFB’s Big Data and E-commerce policies.
Why the resolutions process is important:
“It’s important because it brings viewpoints from farmers across the state and allows us to have conversations and look at proposals in front of us and improve them.”
- Heather Poppy, Henry County, chairman, Natural Resources Subcommittee
“Our resolutions come from the grassroots level and go up. That’s our voice to legislators on the important views of Farm Bureau.”
- Jay Niemann, Montgomery County, chairman, State/Local Government Subcommittee
“This brings perspectives from all across Illinois into one room to make sure the concerns of members are covered by IFB policy.”
- Chris Murray, Champaign County, chairman, Agricultural Production/National Issues Subcommittee