Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation sets policy for coming year, elects leaders - November 16, 2022
November 16, 2022—Corner crossing trespass, aging irrigation infrastructure, social governance scores, and foreign ownership of land, water and minerals were among the many topics included in policies adopted at the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 10-12, 2022 in Casper, Wyo., the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of the Farm Bureau Federation. The need for the protection of property rights 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.” Farm Bureau Federation members thoroughly discussed and emphasized the need for government agencies to prioritize and simplify land trades for landowners looking to establish contiguous blocks of private land thus improving access to public land. “If the federal government would make it easier to conduct land trades we could avoid a lot of the issues we are currently dealing with now as it relates to corner crossing,” Hamilton explained. “The whole issue is to make the private/federal land trade process easier and reduce the cost the federal government has to go through to get to the point where the land trades can happen and benefit both parties.” Irrigation water is vital to agriculture in Wyoming. Irrigation infrastructure was constructed by the United States Bureau of Reclamation decades ago and in many cases over 100 years ago. “Policy was passed that points out our members continued concern over aging irrigation infrastructure,” Hamilton stated. “We certainly think there is more to be done to try and solve some of the problems.” The irrigation infrastructure policy calls for Congress and the State of Wyoming to explore the possible transfer of title, funding and policy in order to address the irrigation infrastructure needs. In addition to the possible transfer of title, voting delegates asked for state and federal funding sources to be explored to offset the rehabilitation, replacement or repair costs. Concerns for the economic, social and military security of the United States led to policy asking the Wyoming Legislature and the U.S. Congress to introduce legislation to prohibit foreign ownership of land, water and the mineral estate within the United States of America. “Voting delegates voiced their concern and passed this policy in an effort to curb the foreign ownership of land, water and mineral estate in America,” Hamilton stated. Regarding the University of Wyoming (UW) Board of Trustees, voting delegates passed policy asking for the trustees to be elected by party and by region. “Our members feel like there needs to be a more direct representation of Wyoming’s taxpaying citizens on the UW Board of Trustees,” Hamilton said. “By directly electing trustees our members feel they would receive more representation.” Voting delegates expressed their opposition to the implementation of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) scores for banking. “Our members are very concerned about using nebulously defined criteria to drive social policy instead of relying on economic information for decision-making,” Hamilton said. 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. Leaders elected Todd Fornstrom, of Laramie County, was elected to his seventh term as WyFB President at the organization’s 103rd Annual Meeting. “Being trusted to be a representative for what I believe to be best agricultural organization in our country, if not the world, is an extreme honor,” said Fornstrom. “I’m ready to continue working for our farmers and ranchers in Wyoming.” Todd and his family farm in Laramie County. He and his wife, Laura, have four children. 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 seventh term as WyFB Vice President. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three children. They run a trucking business, commercial row crop spraying business, raise cattle and farm. Lane Hageman, of Goshen County, was elected to his second term as the Director-At-Large. Hageman lives and works 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 Committee State Chair serve on the state board. The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Carbon County Rancher Quade Palm as state YF&R Chair. 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 103rd annual meeting held Nov. 10-12, 2022, 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.