Wyoming Farm Bureau sets policy for coming year – Nov 17, 2010
Laramie— Policies dealing with perpetuities, government budgeting, capital gains, and health care were among the many policies adopted at the 91st annual meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB). Held Nov. 11-13, 2010 in Cody, 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.”
Following the Constitution is very important to our state. Farm Bureau members passed policy calling for all entities to adhere to the Wyoming Constitution in regards to perpetuities. “Article 1, Section 30 of the Wyoming Constitution says “Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state, and shall not be allowed.”
Farm Bureau members are concerned about the increase in state spending. Wyoming Farm Bureau policy favors the concept of zero based budgeting for all state and federal agencies. This policy was originally passed in 1976 and reaffirmed by the voting delegates again this year.
“We were pleased to see the discussion about zero based budgeting during the gubernatorial elections this year,” Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation executive vice president, stated. “Our members are concerned about the increase in state spending and hope perhaps this would be one way of addressing this issue.”
Reaffirmation of several policies dealing with game animal damage on private land highlights the importance for landowner compensation when that damage is excessive.
“This was a big item this year especially in the Northeastern part of the state where there is urban encroachment,” Hamilton said.
“We’ve had reports of significant reductions of standing alfalfa by white tailed deer,” He continued. “Landowners proudly provide habitat for wildlife, but when the damage is significant they need to be compensated. For example, when the hay crop is reduced significantly, the landowner has an increase in cost to buy winter forage just to keep their livestock alive.”
Regarding irrigation, policy was passed requesting the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) to allow maintenance of irrigation waterways in highway rights of way.
“This appears to be an issue in the Big Horn Basin where the landowners want to work with WyDOT to solve the problem because without adequate maintenance of irrigation structures it could lead to severe degradation of the highways,” Hamilton explained
Farm Bureau members oppose a state run, mandatory, individual animal identification program beyond the already existing identification systems.
“Our members feel comfortable with the current programs such as brand inspection and scrapie tags,” Hamilton stated. “Adding a new program to what is already being done would increase costs and the paperwork burden that could have an impact on a producer’s ability to remain a viable operation.”
In national issues, Wyoming Farm Bureau members expressed support for death tax reform. “Death tax uncertainty leaves many family-owned businesses and farms guessing about tax liabilities and unable to make prudent business decisions,” Livingston stated.
“As part of Farm Bureau’s nationwide work on the issue, Farm Bureau members have signed “Put Death Taxes to Rest” postcards to thank Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation for their work on this issue,” Livingston said as he presented Senator Barrasso with over 400 signed postcards at the annual meeting.
“The Wyoming Farm Bureau recognizes and thanks the Wyoming Congressional Delegation for their support of death tax reform,” Livingston continued. “We appreciate the work that Senator Enzi, Senator Barrasso and Representative Lummis are doing for Wyoming in Washington.”
In a related issue, Farm Bureau favors the immediate elimination of the tax on capital gains. Until capital gains are eliminated, policy calls for capital gains to be computed as current sales price, minus sellers original cost, minus improvements, minus inflation since the time of purchase.
“Because agricultural operations don’t change hands very often, capital gains have a more significant impact on agriculture businesses then other businesses,” Hamilton stated. “Capital gains and the death tax go hand in hand and Congress needs to address both issues.”
Farm Bureau members strongly oppose mandated government run health care. Policy was passed asking Wyoming to join other states in litigation against the American Health Care Act of 2010.
Farm Bureau members continue to be concerned with the regulatory overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regards to Cap and Trade (Cap and Tax) regulations. This prompted policy demanding Wyoming join other states in fighting the Obama administration and the EPA over the proposed Cap & Trade or any new climate legislation and/or regulation.
The increased use of the judicial branch by many organizations whose primary goal is to do away with production agriculture prompted discussion of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The Wyoming Farm Bureau support the return of the Equal Access to Justice Act to its original intent, which was curbing abusive government action against individual citizens and be subject to full disclosure and review.
“Taxpayer money is being used to reimburse environmental organizations who are suing the federal government,” Hamilton stated. “This abuse of the EAJA needs to be addressed by Congress.”
Wild horse and land resource management was another area of great concern for Farm Bureau members. The Wyoming Farm Bureau encourages the federal government to seek effective and economical means of controlling wild horse populations to ensure the health of the land resource as well as maintaining sustainable numbers of wild horse populations.
Farm Bureau policy calls for administrative costs to be reduced for all wild horses or burros that are captured or will be captured in the future. The policy was amended to include the re-opening of horse slaughter plants in the United States as an effective means.
“Invaluable discussion was exchanged on these resolutions to determine what is in the best interest of 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.”
“We will begin working immediately to implement these policies that the members have developed,” 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.
Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President, 307.721.7712 or [email protected]
Perry Livingston, WyFB President, 307.283.2858 or [email protected]
Kerin Clark, WyFB Media Director, 307.532.2002 or [email protected]