By Ashley Rice and Kay Shipman
From hot-button issues to public service needs, Illinois Farm Bureau’s policy development covered a range of subjects.
Eighteen county Farm Bureau presidents serving on the Resolutions Committee discussed policy proposals from county Farm Bureaus in a daylong meeting Wednesday in Bloomington. Policies approved will be forwarded on to delegates at Annual Meeting.
“This policy development process is paramount to Illinois Farm Bureau and the whole Farm Bureau system and families across the country,” IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. said in a welcome to committee members.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee had lengthy discussion on two major policy issues – energy and global climate change.
Lee County Farm Bureau proposed consolidating existing IFB energy policies to provide clearer direction. Following the Natural Resources Subcommittee’s recommendation, the Resolutions Committee supported much of the proposal.
Grundy County Farm Bureau President Scott Halpin, Natural Resources Subcommittee chairman, understood why the proposal surfaced. “Energy is on the front of people’s minds,” Halpin said. “It’s clear renewable energy is going to be a priority and something to be aware of and to stay on top of.”
Halpin emphasized his subcommittee considered all county Farm Bureau proposals: “We’re here to hear what county Farm Bureaus have to say. We discuss options and consequences, both intended and unintended consequences.”
The Natural Resources Subcommittee had a lengthy discussion on climate policy. In the end, the committee approved climate policy supporting market-based solutions that:
- Are open and transparent;
- Recognize the true cost to adopt practices and the effects of weather;
- Set out exactly what practices that farmer must perform and how the performance will be measured;
- Limit data collection to only participating acres and the contract length and data use to five years;
- Reserve any compensation from USDA programs as a result of the practice to the farmer; and
- Include practices previously adopted.
“From the number of submittals the committee received on climate change, it’s clear our members want a framework for climate change issues,” said Halpin. “This policy is just a start towards workable market-based solutions for our farmers.”
Policy supporting federal crop insurance premium benefits as a method for compensating farmers for implementing conversation practices was also approved with little debate.
“With the wide acceptance of the Illinois cover crops premium discount program and the federal Pandemic Cover Crop program, it shows that farmers are interested in taking advantage of these opportunities,” added Halpin.
The Agricultural Production/ National Issues (APN) subcommittee approved new urban agriculture policy submitted by Cook County that recognizes the importance of raising, cultivating, processing, marketing and distributing food in urban and suburban areas.
“The urban agriculture submittal is a good policy and it’s something we didn’t have before,” said Adam Henkel, Lee County Farm Bureau president and APN subcommittee chairman. “The subcommittee agreed that urban agriculture is production agriculture so it should have a place in Illinois Farm Bureau policy.”
With development of more solar- and wind-generated energy projects around the state, the committee approved new policy to support legislation strengthening Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) enforcement of an Agriculture Impact Mitigation Agreement, known as an AIMA, entered into between a solar or wind energy developer and IDOA.
Vermilion County Farm Bureau President Dennis Smith, chairman of the State and Local Government Subcommittee, said some policy proposals focused on services provided by local governments and safety concerns. For example, the subcommittee discussed a situation that may impact both counties under township and a commission forms of government. Edwards County Farm Bureau proposed policy to support striking only a district residency requirement for highway commissioners and road district clerks only if no qualified candidate existed within the district, leaving all other requirement qualifications.
The committee approved the addition to existing IFB policy supporting a similar waiver for highway commissioners in townships and to eliminate a population threshold of less than 500 to the application.
The Resolutions Committee will return Nov. 3.
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.