IFB's solar energy policy, others now part of AFBF policy book

New policy also strengthens the organization's farm bill priorities. Read about other topics debated at the AFBF Convention.

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Illinois Farm Bureau District 13 Director Dennis Green proposes a floating conservation-oriented commodity loan program to delegates during policy discussion at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. (Photos by AFBF)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau delegates played an active role in setting national farm policy.

Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn., adopted IFB’s new solar energy policy and strengthened the organization’s farm bill priorities. Other issues debated included immigration, conservation, trade and labeling laws.

In all, 353 voting delegates from across the country attended AFBF’s business meeting, including 21 from Illinois.

“Our delegates successfully introduced several submittals on farm policy, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), seed protection, property rights, and environmental and conservation issues,” said Richard Guebert Jr., IFB president. “We expect Congress to debate and pass a farm bill in 2018.  The policies adopted will better position us for those deliberations.”

Illinois Farm Bureau District 4 Director Brad Temple, left, confers with Jay Niemann, Montgomery County Farm Bureau president and IFB State and Local Government Subcommittee chairman.
Illinois Farm Bureau District 4 Director Brad Temple, left, confers with Jay Niemann, Montgomery County Farm Bureau president and IFB State and Local Government Subcommittee chairman.

Related: USDA leadership remains bullish on trade. Read more here.

Delegates also re-elected Zippy Duvall of Georgia to another two-year term as president, and Scott Vanderwal of South Dakota as vice president.

The policies adopted and reaffirmed at the convention will serve as AFBF’s roadmap for 2018. Illinois policy language approved last week included:

- Solar energy policy, which establishes state standards for commercial solar projects that protect property rights and allow for reasonable development, ensures adequate funding for decommissioning and allows landowners the ability to terminate a lease in case of failure. An attempt by Colorado Farm Bureau to remove language supporting projects on marginal/underused land failed.

- A one-time farm bill sign-up if there are no year-to-year changes to the farming operation.

- A floating conservation-oriented commodity loan program that provides a loan price based on a five-year Olympic average, addresses conservation goals and satisfies the credit needs of young farmers.

“When the current farm bill was enacted, corn and soybeans were very profitable, providing farmers with very good cash flows,” IFB District 13 Director Dennis Green explained to delegates. “A loan rate set at $1.95 per bushel for corn and $5 per bushel for soybeans was set at a very low price, and really weren’t used very much because farmers didn’t need them. … But since then, corn and soybean prices have declined. Cash flows have tightened.”

Green said the marketing loan program would help farmers manage their cash flow, meet conservation and nutrient loss reduction goals, and provide additional assistance to beginning farmers.

- Opposing any increase in the national CRP acreage average unless additional acres are tied to continuous sign-up practices and to the most environmentally sensitive ground.

IFB District 3 Director Jeff Kirwan, who introduced the amendment on the delegate floor, said the new language could help bolster Nutrient Reduction Loss Strategy efforts.

“As we deal with water-quality issues in Illinois and everywhere, I think it’s important that you allow continuous sign-up for those practices like riparian buffers and waterways as part of the CRP program,” he said.

- Limiting CRP participation rates so it doesn’t adversely affect local farmland rental rates.

- Requiring seed for CRP acres be free of invasive species of weed seed, such as Palmer amaranth. 

- Limiting the size of pollinator tracts with an emphasis on smaller parcels and capping pollinator rates.

- Supporting a moratorium on additional listings under the Endangered Species Act in its current form.

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