BY TIMOTHY EGGERT
Delegates adopted dozens of changes to Illinois Farm Bureau federal policy, ranging from support for conservation programs and tailored carbon markets to opposition to a permanent federal disaster program.
“We have more clarity on a couple of issues,” IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. said. “One being energy, and the other one being the farm bill, which is on the hearts and minds of our members.”
Delegates also passed measures that address members’ concerns about climate, carbon sequestration and crop insurance, which they want to remain “front and center and stay where it is and has been as a risk management tool in our toolbox,” Guebert said.
Approved farm program policies include measures to support allowing farmers to update base acres and yields, treating renewable energy project base acres the same as Conservation Reserve Program base acres, inflation-adjusted farm program payment limits and increased commodity loan rates.
Delegates also approved a resolution opposing the removal of base acres on farms participating in a renewable energy project.
Speaking from the delegate floor during the business session, Adam Henkel, chairman of the Agriculture Production/National Issues Resolutions Subcommittee, said having IFB policies on base acres is vital for members.
As of now, farms that host a renewable energy project see those acres disappear, setting up long-term issues for future generations or for a farmer who may want to use those acres again after a project is decommissioned.“You want those base acres to stay on the farm for future use,” Henkel said.
Delegates rejected proposed resolutions to support eliminating forced producer choice between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and making base acres portable.
Other approved resolutions included:
- A new policy to oppose a permanent disaster program at the federal level.
- A submittal from Henry County, which supports farmers with Harvest Price Option receiving the harvest price if it is higher on prevented plant acres.
- Supporting a number of conservation programs, including creation of a water quality credit, incentives for sequestering carbon through cover crops and publicly-funded land grant university research on soil carbon.
- Disaster assistance policies that received approval include support for animal disease prevention and management programs, and federal spending to protect the agriculture industry from cyberattacks.
- Adding policy language that states IFB supports carbon market-based solutions that provide open, transparent and consistent measurement, certification and verification for carbon sequestration; provide price transparency to market participants; recognizes the true cost to adopt practices and addresses data collection.
Guebert said there are still a “whole host of questions that need to be answered out there” about how the federal government will implement and manage emerging carbon sequestration and credit programs.“I have a number of questions that I’m not too eager to sign up real fast until I get clarity on a number of questions,” Guebert said.
Delegates also approved a resolution introduced by Clinton County that amends part of the IFB policy on labor, to support “establishing improved programs for agricultural guest workers that assist in finding, retaining and maintaining an adequate, legal and cost-competitive labor supply.”
Mark Gebhards, IFB executive director of government affairs and commodities, said the new labor policy could be presented to American Farm Bureau Federation as a model for a new national policy.
“So this is a big deal, it’s a big issue,” Gebhards said, adding that expanding the guest worker provision is an “extremely difficult political position” for Congress to deal with and could take time to resolve.
“So what this policy does is say let’s look beyond the legislative approach of H2A guest worker programs and try to find some other ways to bring a labor force or to increase our labor force in agriculture, obviously, but even in the areas that maybe are indirectly, we are affected in agriculture in what we do in the supply chain,” Gebhards said.
Gebhards said policies adopted by IFB delegates related to the 2023 farm bill are also important because of the legislation’s scope and impact on agriculture.
“It’s going to be a difficult bill to write because there’s going to be a lot of pressure from different areas to try and say farmers should not get some of the support that’s in that bill currently, especially around crop insurance,” he said.
He also expects the bill to contain new policies and programs focused on climate change and conservation.
“And I think that’s going to be a battle,” Gebhards said. “It’s been a battle for the last couple of bills. Every farm bill we write is is more difficult.”
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.