Effective engagement on climate the job of all

By Kay Shipman

Agriculture and farmers “need to be at the table or be on the table” and “set the record straight” regarding climate discussions, Terri Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president of communications, told FarmWeek.

On Feb. 18, Moore will lead two workshops focused on effective engagement for climate discussions during the Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference in the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, Springfield.

The conference theme is “Leadership Our Legacy.” To register, contact your county Farm Bureau by Feb. 10.

“Because of different opinions on causes and solutions, that’s OK. We can acknowledge those and set the record straight,” Moore said.

She pointed to a couple of statistics. Some in the general public might estimate agriculture contributes 50% to 70% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. However, all U.S. agriculture accounts for only 9% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, Moore noted. Plus, 15% of all U.S. farmland, 140 million acres, is involved with conservation practices.

“There’s a good story to be told,” Moore added. “It’s an opportunity.”

During her workshops, Moore plans to discuss how farmers can effectively engage. “That’s the job of all of us,” she said. “The language we use and the jargon about what we’re doing can have a big impact.”

American Farm Bureau Federation’s involvement in climate discussion started after the organization received pressure from members of Congress, according to Moore. Those representatives noted “lots of fingers were being pointed at agriculture,” but the industry and its spokesmen were “pretty silent,” she continued.

Since then, AFBF President Zippy Duvall and the AFBF board have sent clear signals for the organization and its members to be engaged, Moore said.

During the conference, three general sessions and 15 workshops will be offered. That evening, the traditional legislative reception for General Assembly members will start at 6 p.m. County Farm Bureau leaders are encouraged to invite their legislators as well as their adopted legislators.

In the first general session, Colleen Callahan, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; John Kim, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency; and Jeremy Flynn, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture; will discuss their agencies’ priorities and the impacts to Illinois agriculture.

The second general session will feature Washington political commentator Michael Smerconish. Smerconish hosts a weekly Saturday TV program on CNN. He is also a newspaper columnist, author and lawyer.

For the third general session, Mark Gebhards, executive director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities, will join Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation, and Adam Nielsen, IFB director of national legislation and policy development, to discuss the organization’s priority issues for the 2020 legislative year.

Workshop topics include national and state legislative priorities, anhydrous ammonia, shared governance, farmland assessment, local governments and livestock, media relations, transportation rules, working with local governments, preparing for the 2020 elections and climate change. Some workshops are offered more than once.

The registration fee is $75 per person. Collegiate Farm Bureau members may pay a discounted rate of $50 each.

For an agenda and additional information, click here.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.