Wyoming Farm Bureau sets policy for coming year - Nov. 20, 2013
Laramie— Policies dealing with livestock trespass, taxes, wildlife damages and support of the coal industry were among the many policies adopted at the 94th annual meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 14-16, 2013 in Laramie, Wyo., the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of Farm Bureau.
“Farm Bureau policy is founded on the protection of private property rights, constitutional government and individual freedoms,” WyFB President Perry Livingston said. “The policy discussions focused on many different issues relating to our founding principles.”
Regarding livestock trespass, members approved policy which would support the state of Wyoming codifying the “fence-out” precept in Wyoming Statutes. “The established precedence of Wyoming being a “fence-out” state is based on case law,” Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton said. “Our members feel it is important to establish this in Wyoming Statutes.”
Dissatisfaction with the continued onslaught of privacy invasion generated new policy regarding the use of drones. “The policy opposes the use of drones to monitor private property without a court order,” Brett Moline, Wyoming Farm Bureau Director of Public and Government Affairs, said. “With current aviation laws, anything flying under 500 feet must receive property owner permission. However, drones are a grey area in the law.”
In tax issues, members reaffirmed once again their support for the Fair Tax issue. Regarding state property taxes, policy passed calling for agricultural land taxes not to be increased by more than five percent annually. “The discussions centered around the need to have consistency on tax increases,” Moline explained. “With a 37 percent increase this year and a 25 percent increase last year, irrigated land is really being impacted by low interest rates and the high price of hay which are part of the formula for determining agricultural land valuation.”
Farm Bureau members expressed concern with the impact wildlife have on private property when the wildlife populations are not managed to the objective level. Policy passed asking that a landowner be allowed to protect their property from damage if the state fails to take effective action. Additional policy asks the Wyoming Game and Fish to pay damage claims at no less than market value of the damaged resource.
“Farmers and ranchers provide habitat for wildlife in Wyoming as part of their normal agriculture operations,” Hamilton explained. “However, when wildlife numbers far exceed the objective level and the herds are not managed appropriately the damage to the lands and people providing the habitat for these animals is all too real and it impacts the resource.”
Showing continued support for the coal industry, policy was passed supporting the United States coal industry and coal fired electrical generating plants.
“Our members recognize and are concerned about what the impact of regulations will be to other resource users here in Wyoming,” Hamilton explained.
Regarding telecommunications, Farm Bureau policy calls for the continuation of the Wyoming Universal Service Fund. Additionally this year, members asked that no subscriber be required to pay more than 130 percent of the statewide average price for a landline. “The Wyoming Telecommunications Act is set to sunset in 2015,” Hamilton explained. “With the telecommunications discussions occurring in the Legislature, we in agriculture want to make sure affordable, modern telecommunications is available in rural areas of Wyoming.”
New policy passed supporting the sale and consumption of raw dairy products. “In the discussions we’ve been having in our organization, the members seem to want to move towards less regulation and allow folks to have more opportunities and more choices,” Hamilton said.
Members expressed opposition to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) promotion of the “Meatless Monday” program.
“Invaluable discussion was exchanged on these resolutions to determine what is in the best interest for all of agriculture and Farm Bureau,” Livingston concluded. “The resolutions passed at the state level guide the work of our organization for the coming year.”
“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.
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.