Wyoming Farm Bureau sets policy for coming year; elects leaders – Nov. 19, 2015

CODY—Fire damage to private property, federal mandates and pesticide registration were among the many topics included in policies adopted at the 96th annual meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 12-14, 2015 in Cody, Wyo., the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of Farm Bureau.

“The Farm Bureau grassroots policy development process ensures that our policy begins at the local level,” WyFB Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton explained. “By the time a resolution enters the policy book it has been reviewed by members at three different levels; county, district and state.”

Farm Bureau members approved policy calling for any federal agency that initiates a fire on public managed land to be responsible for full compensation for any property damaged should the fire move to private land. “This is a reaction to the federal government not paying for lost forage and other private property when a controlled burn has escaped and caused damage to private land,” said Brett Moline, WyFB Director of Public and Government Affairs.

Regarding the U.S. Forest Service 9 Plan Amendment about Sage Grouse habitat, voting delegates passed policy asking for the minimum stubble height to change from a “seven inch stubble height” to a “height that is attainable most years in the Semi-Arid Precipitation zone.” In the discussion, it was noted that forage growth and height is dependent on precipitation.

“In many cases, depending on the location and precipitation levels, a seven inch growth would not be attainable and then livestock would not be able to graze due to this unreachable requirement,” Moline explained. “Not only is this important for the livestock owners, but also for the land itself. Grazing provides many benefits to the land which is relied upon for wildlife habitat including fire protection, health of the grasses and more.”

Concern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s elimination for funding of pesticide applicator training brought forth policy supporting an increase in Wyoming’s license fee for pesticide registration from $75 to $90. “The additional monies collected would be used for training pesticide applicators,” Moline said. “We do realize the cost will be passed on to farmers and ranchers. However, our members felt it was important to keep applicators up to date with trainings for many reasons including safety.”

Farm Bureau voting delegates passed policy opposing a federal mandate in the transportation policy that would limit the speed of commercial vehicles. The proposed rule would require speed limiters in all commercial trucks to limit their speed to less than other vehicles. “Requiring commercial trucks to travel slower than other vehicles on the roadway could increase traffic hazard on the roads,” Moline said.

“These policies will be added to our policy book to help guide the organization in the work we do to protect private property rights,” Hamilton concluded.

Leaders elected

Perry Livingston, of Sundance, was elected to his eleventh term as WyFB President. Livingston and his family run a cow/calf operation in Crook and Weston Counties.

Todd Fornstrom was elected to his third term as WyFB Vice President. Todd and his family farm in Laramie County. Dale Heggem, of Torrington, was elected to his fifth term as the Director-At-Large.   Heggem works for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture as the state grain warehouse examiner and he and his wife operate a small grain and cow/calf operation.

In addition to the three statewide elections, five district directors and the Young Farmer & Rancher state chair serve on the state board. The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Cole Coxbill to his second term as the state committee chair. This position has a seat on the WyFB Board of Directors. From Goshen County, Coxbill farms with his family.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. Policy development is grassroots beginning at the local level where members discuss issues impacting them. Resolutions that pass locally proceed to the district and then the state. Those resolutions with national impact proceed to the national convention. The primary goals of the organization are to protect private property rights and help members achieve an equitable return on their investment. On the web, www.wyfb.org.

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