BY TIMOTHY EGGERT
Voting delegates at American Farm Bureau Federation's 2022 Annual Meeting on Tuesday adopted more than a dozen new policies — including measures on the 2023 farm bill, urban agriculture and climate change — submitted by Illinois Farm Bureau's delegation.
Delegates also approved IFB policy proposals related to renewable energy, labor and crop insurance and risk management, advanced by the AFBF Resolutions Committee in December.
"Good discussion today," IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. told FarmWeek following the voting session, which capped AFBF's 103rd Annual Convention, held in Atlanta. "We were pretty successful getting all but one of our submittals through and put into AFBF policy."
Illinois was represented by 20 delegates, part of the 345-member delegate body. Overall, more than 4,000 people attended the convention.
"Other states' presidents and I have built coalitions, our delegates here have built coalitions over the years with other states, and we support one another," Guebert said of IFB's success. "Especially when there's policy that's really important our members and theirs as well, and we support each other going forward."
Voting delegates on Tuesday also reelected AFBF President Zippy Duvall to another term. He has held the position since 2016.
IFB delegates on introduced seven amendments — all were approved except one — to final policy submittals. Of those and the IFB policies adopted by delegates, Guebert said the measure on climate change is one of the most important.
The final language on that measure, among other things, includes support for a voluntary market-based carbon system with "clear, science-based and consistent standards for calculating the amount of carbon sequestered by agricultural practices" and farmer compensation for future, current and past sequestration activities.
It also features support for "education programs for farmers and farmland owners with negotiating carbon sequestration language to provide fair and equitable compensation, adequate legal protection and liability limits."
Mark Gebhards, IFB executive director of governmental affairs and commodities, echoed Guebert on the importance of the policy.
"It's critically important when we talk about the entire climate change arena that we have very clear policy that outlines how farmers will be incentivized and, if you will, rewarded around participation around some of these climate change initiatives," Gebhards told FarmWeek.
"While this is a new area it's certainly an area that is here to stay," Gebhards said, adding it's key that early adopters receive credit for practices they've had in place and continue to follow.
Another IFB policy adopted into national policy is a new measure defining and supporting urban agriculture.
The new policy defines urban agriculture as a wide range of activities from cultivation to processing and from marketing to distribution of food in urban and suburban settings in both outdoor and indoor facilities.
Despite no amendments or floor discussion, Guebert said other states with major urban areas expressed "a lot of support" for it in December during the AFBF Resolutions Committee.
2023 farm bill, risk management & crop insurance
Delegates further adopted IFB policies about the 2023 farm bill, including supporting inflation-adjusted farm program payment limits and supporting increased commodity loan rates.
IFB also helped to defeat an amendment from multiple states to strike national farm policy language supporting "treating base acres lost to renewable energy projects the same as CRP base acres" and "when the energy contract expires, and the underlying land returns to production, the base acres return."
Guebert, rising on the delegate floor in opposition to the amendment, said it's "very important" to give landowners — especially those who host solar projects — an opportunity to "bring those acres back and get your base reestablished after the project is concluded."
IFB delegate and former District 13 Director Dennis Green helped to defeat an amendment from Iowa and Kansas to risk management and crop insurance policy. It would have cut language supporting making permanent the per-acre cover crop discount on crop insurance premiums.
"We look at this as a way to encourage producers to help conserve the soil and the nutrients on it," Green said, advocating for the language to be retained. "This is one way to help the producer get started and continue with it."
Other IFB policies adopted by voting delegates include support for:
- insurance companies offering coverage for damage from terrorist events.
- disaster coverage for crop losses due to governmental restrictions, pest infestations or cyberattacks.
- allowing a producer who elects to include a Harvest Price Option (HPO) to receive the harvest price if it is higher on prevented plant acres.
While IFB did not submit its own policy on the topic, delegates did contribute to a 1.5 hour debate over amendments to livestock marketing policies.
IFB Vice President Brian Duncan, who manages an independent hog operation in Ogle County, spoke in support of an amendment from Iowa to eliminate language opposing government mandates that "force any livestock slaughter facility to purchase a set percentage of their animal supply via cash bids."
Duncan said that cutting the language doesn't necessarily translate to support or opposition to mandates, it just keeps silent on the issue.
"I'm not a big fan of mandating this, but ... I don't think we should take the bullet out of the gun as we try to get packers to do something that's fair for price discovery," Duncan said of the amendment, which ultimately failed.
Guebert later described livestock market reform as a "huge topic," one that will continue to drive "diverse conversation all over the country."
Energy policies adopted by voting delegates include:
- supporting a federal (USDA or DOE) program to incentivize solar panel installation on farm buildings and bins.
- supporting requiring a comprehensive drainage plan to be developed for farmland where surface or subsurface drainage will be impacted from construction, deconstruction or maintenance or a proposed commercial solar energy conversion system.
- opposing solar or wind energy conversion systems that create negative impacts to surface or subsurface soil productivity from construction, deconstruction or maintenance activities.
Additional adopted IFB policies include support for:
- efforts to improve industrial hemp contracts between growers and processors.
- multiple sources and increased levels for funding for developing and expanding broadband and cellular network access to rural areas.
- improved programs for agricultural guestworkers that assist in finding, hiring and retaining an adequate, legal and cost-competitive labor supply.
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.