Wyoming Farm Bureau sets policy for coming year; elects leaders - Nov. 21, 2019
November 21, 2019— Irrigation infrastructure, taxes, private property rights, and migration corridors were among the many topics included in policies adopted at the 100th annual meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 13-15 in Laramie, Wyo., the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of Farm Bureau. “County Farm Bureau members start the policy development process at the local level,” said Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President. “The process continues through the district, state and national levels as members discuss a wide variety of policy issues that are of concern to them.” Infrastructure at all levels is critical to agriculture production. “The collapse of the irrigation tunnel in Goshen County this summer brought the discussion on emergency funding to the forefront,” Hamilton explained. “Farm Bureau members recognized the importance of managing our water resources and addressing aging irrigation infrastructure through policy calling for the creation of a funding mechanism to utilize in emergency irrigation infrastructure situations.” Regarding taxes and state expenditures, Farm Bureau members spoke out against tax increases when they supported a policy to oppose any new fuel taxes. “In addition to opposing new fuel taxes, our members expressed concern over state expenditures on school capital construction,” Hamilton explained. “Our members know education costs and school capital construction costs are a large item and they feel the state should work diligently to ensure school buildings are only updated or replaced when necessary.” Concern about eminent domain use by county, state or federal governments led to policy calling for the limit of this use within the state to protect property rights. “Farm Bureau members are always concerned when entities use eminent domain to take property,” Hamilton said. “They approved policy that would support amending the Wyoming State Constitution to limit the use of eminent domain within the state for state and county government projects.” Farm Bureau members weighed in on discussions surrounding migration corridors in the state and what points they feel should be considered. The policy highlighted the need for: local involvement on decisions; a risk analysis process to be used; protection of existing economic and planned activities as well as private property rights; consideration of any funding increases to the state; and if there are any state mandates, they must be paid for by the state. In other issues, members reiterated their concern of the need for a humane slaughter facility for horses in America. “Additional policy specified that U.S. horse meat should be used to feed animals in U.S. Zoos and Game Parks rather than importing horse meat,” Hamilton explained. Farm Bureau is dedicated to the principles on which our nation was built. Farm Bureau members reiterated their support for the Second Amendment again this year with discussions surrounding Red Flag laws. “Several resolutions were discussed on this issue and members eventually settled on a policy that does not support these types of laws,” Hamilton said. Regarding brand inspection issues, discussion looked at eliminating brand inspections for crossing county lines. “This idea was rejected by the voting delegates because they feel brand inspection provides protection and they expressed the desire to retain the ability to have a brand inspector look at movement across the county line,” Hamilton explained. “This policy discussion is the reason we hold our annual meeting,” Hamilton concluded. “By the time a resolution makes it to our state policy book, it has been discussed by our members at three different levels. This grassroots policy development guides the work of our organization and we are proud to have just completed that process for the 100th year of the organization.” “Our policy continues to support strengthening private property rights,” said Brett Moline, WyFB Director of Public and Governmental Affairs. “These policies will be added to our policy book to help guide the federation in the work we do to protect private property rights.” Leaders elected Todd Fornstrom, of Laramie County, was elected to his fourth term as WyFB President at the organization’s 100th annual meeting. He and his wife, Laura, have four children. Fornstrom works with his family on the Fornstrom Farm near Pine Bluffs. The diversified farm consists of irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans and a cattle and sheep feedlot. They also run a trucking business, custom harvest and Todd is in a partnership and runs Premium Hay Products, an alfalfa pellet mill. Voting delegates elected Cole Coxbill, of Goshen County, to his fourth term as WyFB Vice President. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three kids. They run a trucking business, commercial spraying business and raise cattle. Rachel Grant, of Converse County, was elected to her first term as the Director-At-Large. Grant is a past president of the Converse County Farm Bureau Federation and a former WyFB Young Farmer & Rancher Committee member. She also serves as the State Chair of the WyFB Natural Environmental and Resources Committee. She and her husband, Will, have four children and ranch in Southern Converse County. The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Niobrara County Rancher Chelsea Baars to her first term as the state committee chair. This position has a seat on the WyFB Board of Directors. Rounding out the WyFB 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 100th annual meeting held Nov. 13-15, 2019 was to develop policy to guide the organization in the coming year. Policy development is grassroots beginning at the local level where members discuss issues of concern. 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.