Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation sets policy for coming year, elects leaders
November 15, 2023—Non-use of federal lands, road maintenance funding, state lands, water, drones and voting were among the many topics included in policies adopted at the 104th Annual Meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 9-11, 2023 in Cheyenne, Wyo., the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of the Farm Bureau Federation. The need for the protection of multiple-use of federal lands resonated through the discussions as Farm Bureau Federation members developed policy.
“County Farm Bureau Federation members start the policy development process at the local level discussing policy issues of concern to the members and their families,” said Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President. “The annual meeting is the final step at the state level for the grassroots policy development process. Policies with national implications will proceed to the national convention for consideration.”
Voting delegates expressed their continued opposition to the concept of non-use of federal lands through rule-making and executive orders. “We see the use of the word conservation in many places starting with the 30 x 30 initiative, also known as ‘America the Beautiful’,” Hamilton said. “Having conservation as a beneficial use as proposed in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed federal rules is another concern for the management decisions of federal lands.”
Members passed policy supporting the historic uses of BLM land as stated in the Federal Land Policy Act of 1976 and the Taylor Grazing Act. “Multiple-use of federal lands is important for the health of the lands and the economy of the communities and the people who utilize and steward the land,” Hamilton continued. “Our members oppose the concept of preservation of federal lands through non-use of the lands.”
Farm Bureau Federation members discussed road maintenance in Wyoming. Fuel taxes are collected to fund road repairs in Wyoming. The voting delegates expressed the desire for electric vehicles to contribute to the state’s infrastructure repair. “The discussion centered around addressing how electric vehicles can pay to support the state’s infrastructure with some kind of equivalency to the fuel tax paid by petroleum fueled vehicles,” Hamilton said. “Our members support Wyoming collecting revenue on electric vehicle charging stations and adding a registration fee for electric vehicles to be equitable to the fuel tax paid by petroleum fueled vehicles.”
Delegates raised concerns regarding the operations of the Office of State Lands specific to lease renewals. “Policy was passed calling for the State Land Board to prioritize production agriculture by ensuring current lessees in good standing retain first right of refusal on their existing leases,” Hamilton explained. “Continuity and planning are important to all businesses.”
Water is vital to agriculture in Wyoming. Policy passed to address the need for the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to base groundwater permits on the aquifer recharge. “Voting delegates called for the legislature to clarify the law for the issuance of high capacity well permits to address protecting the underground water resource,” Hamilton said.
Wyoming landowners provide habitat for Wyoming’s wildlife. Herd objectives in many areas of the state far exceed the state’s objective numbers thus impacting forage, fence lines and animal health. Farm Bureau Federation members emphasized the need for the Wyoming Game & Fish Department to manage species to meet the herd objectives rather than raising objective numbers. “Members also specifically passed policy asking for the Game & Fish to more aggressively manage elk numbers,” Hamilton said.
Regarding animal identification, voting delegates reaffirmed policy opposing mandatory animal identification.
Protecting private property rights is at the core of the organization’s mission. Voting delegates expressed continued concerns about drones trespassing on private property.
The right to vote is valued deeply by Federation members. Members called for a Wyoming state residency requirement to vote in Wyoming and also voiced strong opposition to rank choice voting.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation has always stood on the principles of individual freedoms and constitutional government. “Our members strongly believe individual freedoms and constitutional government are vital,” Hamilton concluded.
In addition to passing resolutions, annual meeting attendees heard from Courtney Briggs with the American Farm Bureau who discussed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and PFAS. To hear more discussion from the annual meeting, visit wyfb.org (“News” tab) to listen to an annual meeting podcast recording.
Todd Fornstrom, of Laramie County, was elected to his eighth term as President of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.
“It is hard to put into words what an honor it is to represent people like our members that continue to show up and speak up for agriculture,” Fornstrom said.
Fornstrom and his family farm in Laramie County. He and his wife, Laura, have three daughters, a son, a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law. Fornstrom runs Premium Hay Products, an alfalfa pellet mill, and runs a trucking business and custom combining business. Fornstrom also works with his father farming near Pine Bluffs. The diversified farm consists of irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, and dry beans.
Voting delegates elected Cole Coxbill, of Goshen County, to his eighth term as WyFB Vice President. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three children. They run a commercial agriculture spraying business, raise cattle, farm and have an agriculture trucking business.
Lane Hageman, of Goshen County, was elected to his third term as the Director-at-Large. Hageman and his wife Shaina live and work on his family’s cow/calf ranch in southeastern Wyoming.
In addition to the three statewide elections, five District Directors and the Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Committee State Chair serve on the state board.
The YF&R Committee elected Tucker Hamilton, of Weston County, as State YF&R Chair. This position has a seat on the WyFB Board of Directors.
Rounding out the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors are District Directors Raenell Taylor, Northeast District Director; Kevin Baars, Southeast District Director; Tim Pexton, Central District Director; Thad Dockery, Northwest District Director; and Justin Ellis, Southwest District Director.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. The purpose of the 104th annual meeting held Nov. 9-11, 2023, was to develop policy to guide the organization in the coming year. Visit www.wyfb.org.
The mission of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is to represent the voices of Wyoming farmers and ranchers through grassroots policy development while focusing on protecting private property rights, strengthening agriculture, and supporting farm and ranch families through advocacy, education, and leadership development.