Oklahoma delegates to the 88th American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting were successful in changing policy regarding the national animal identification program.
Previously listed as “mandatory” in the AFBF policy book, Oklahoma Farm Bureau leaders asked that delegates reconsider and instead support a voluntary animal ID program.
“Oklahoma producers have a number of concerns with a mandatory program and feel like a voluntary animal id system is the way to go,” said Steve Kouplen, Oklahoma Farm Bureau President. “AFBF delegates agreed and now our policy supports a voluntary program.”
Delegates also supported consideration of legislation to ensure confidentiality of producers’ data and provide cost-share assistance from the federal government to encourage participation.
Oklahoma delegates recommended that Homeland Security reconsider rules and regulations concerning the national incident management systems as they apply to rural communities of 10,000 people or less.
“In our small communities, the majority of fire departments are volunteer,” Kouplen said. “Increased costs and training related to these new regulations would stretch our volunteer system too thin.”
Regarding the new farm bill, delegates voted to continue their support of the concepts of the 2002 farm bill, which expires in September.
While they removed from AFBF policy the requirement that the current farm bill be extended until a new World Trade Organization agreement is reached, the delegates encouraged Congress to include the basic concepts of the current bill in the 2007 farm bill. The delegates also supported consideration of a “green box”-compliant, or non-trade distorting, specialty crop program for growers.
“The 2002 farm bill remains very popular with farmers across the country,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “While they recognize that some adjustments will be needed, farmers are dealing with rising input costs and the perpetual uncertainty of commodity prices and farmers continue to need a safety net to ensure they can continue to produce the nation’s food, fiber and fuel.”
On other issues, delegates supported comprehensive immigration reform, a voluntary country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program and legislation requiring that purchasers of ammonium nitrate show identification.
Delegates voted to oppose the regulation of agricultural dust under the Clean Air Act.
In other annual meeting news, Kouplen, a rancher from Beggs, OK, was re-elected to the AFBF Board of Directors. Also, Danielle Budy of Alva was elected to serve as vice chair of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.
The annual meeting, held January 7-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah , involved deliberations by 366 voting delegates representing every state and commodity. The policy approved at the annual meeting will guide AFBF’s legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2007.