Five Oklahoma Farm Bureau members joined farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention in adopting policies to guide the organization’s work in 2020 on key topics ranging from dairy to labor and climate change to conservation compliance.
OKFB President Rodd Moesel led the state’s delegates which included Jimmy Kinder, District Four Director and Cotton County member; John Grundmann, District Eight Director and Pottawatomie County member; Nocona Cook, OKFB YF&R Chair and Washita County member; and Cindy Schoenecke, OKFB WLC member and Lincoln County member.
“Delegates from across the nation came together today to look ahead at issues and opportunities facing farms, ranches and rural communities,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal. “The 2020 policies ensure we are able to continue producing safe and healthy food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.”
Labor and immigration policies were updated, emphasizing that significant changes to the H-2A program are needed. While AFBF has long had policy in place to ensure an accessible, competitive guest worker program, the updates address problems with the adverse effect wage rate and emphasize the importance of year-round program access to all of agriculture.
After a year-long process to review ways to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders, AFBF’s delegates voted to support creation of a flexible, farmer- and industry-led milk management system. This includes giving individual dairy farmers a voice by allowing them to vote independently and confidentially on rules governing milk prices. The new dairy policies, when combined, will form a strong foundation to guide the organization during future reform efforts to better coordinate milk supply and demand in the U.S.
Creating significant new policies on conservation compliance, delegates called on USDA to significantly improve program transparency and due process for farmers. They specifically prioritized changes in USDA’s processes for wetland delineations and the appeals process. Delegates also adopted a new policy supporting the repeal of Swampbuster provisions. The changes highlight growing frustration with conservation compliance practices within the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Delegates voted to support allowing a higher THC level in hemp, giving AFBF staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators about the appropriate legal level, and to increase the window of time farmers are allowed to conduct THC testing, acknowledging the many questions about how the testing process will work and the potential for backlogs.
New policies are on the books supporting science-based climate change research and the documentation of agriculture’s tremendous advances toward climate-smart practices. Delegates also made clear they want federal climate change policy to reflect regional variations, and they oppose a state-by-state patchwork of climate change policies.
Beyond policy changes, delegates also elected members to serve on the AFBF board of directors and national program committees.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal were re-elected to two-year terms.