Farm Bureau Establishes 2020 Policies - Jan. 21, 2020
January 21, 2020--Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention adopted policies on January 21 to guide the organization’s work in 2020 on key topics ranging from dairy to labor and climate change to conservation compliance. “Delegates from across the nation came together today to look ahead at issues and opportunities facing farms, ranches and rural communities,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal. “The 2020 policies ensure we are able to continue producing safe and healthy food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.” Delegates also re-elected American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal for their third terms. VanderWal served as chair of the meeting on behalf of Duvall, who is grieving the loss of his wife, Bonnie. Delegates updated labor and immigration policies, emphasizing that we must see significant changes to the H-2A program. While AFBF has long had policy in place to ensure an accessible, competitive guest worker program, the updates address problems with the adverse effect wage rate and emphasize the importance of year-round program access to all of agriculture. AFBF looks forward to working with Congress on efforts that align with these policy objectives. After a year-long process to review ways to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders, AFBF’s delegates voted to support giving individual dairy farmers a voice by allowing them to vote independently and confidentially on rules governing milk prices. The opportunity to vote on milk pricing rules, along with other proposed changes to marketing orders will form a strong foundation to guide the organization during future reform efforts to better coordinate milk supply and demand in the U.S. Delegates also voted to support the creation of a flexible, farmer- and industry-led milk management system. There are significant new policies on conservation compliance. Delegates called on USDA to significantly improve program transparency and due process for farmers. They specifically prioritized changes in USDA’s processes for wetland delineations and the appeals process. Delegates also adopted a new policy supporting the repeal of Swampbuster provisions. The changes highlight growing frustration with conservation compliance practices within the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Delegates voted to support allowing a higher THC level in hemp, giving AFBF staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators and lawmakers about the appropriate legal level, and to increase the window of time farmers are allowed to conduct THC testing, acknowledging the many questions about how the testing process will work and the potential for backlogs. New policies are on the books supporting science-based climate change research and the documentation of agriculture’s tremendous advances toward climate-smart practices. Delegates also made clear they want federal climate change policy to reflect regional variations, and they oppose a state-by-state patchwork of climate change policies.