Five Oklahoma Farm Bureau members gathered with fellow farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention on Tuesday, Jan. 15 to adopt policies that will guide the organization’s work during its centennial year on key topics such as cell-cultured food products, trade, rural broadband access and rural mental health programs.
Gary Crawley of Pittsburg County, Alan Jett of Beaver County, David VonTungeln of Canadian County, Mary Sloan of Sequoyah County and Brent Haken of Payne County represented Oklahoma as delegates.
“As our organization has done for the last 100 years, grassroots delegates from across the nation came together to express a unified voice on issues vital to the success of our farms, ranches and rural communities,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “We continue to face a challenging farm economy and we stand ready to work with Congress and the Trump administration to address the issues important to our farm and ranch families.”
A number of OKFB-member resolutions were adopted by the delegate body including policy that calls for accurate labeling of cell-based food products, also referred to as “fake meat.”
“‘Fake meat’ was a big concern for members in Oklahoma,” Crawley said. “We’re really honored that we were able to get some of our language added into national policy. We want consumers to know what they’re actually eating. We want them to be able to distinguish between the products they’re receiving.”
Delegates affirmed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is best equipped to be the primary regulator of new cell-based products as they encouraged USDA to utilize the Food and Drug Administration’s expertise in food safety. The policy also calls for complete and accurate product labels to ensure that consumers have all the pertinent information they need.
Due to the uncertainty it’s caused farmers and ranchers, Farm Bureau members also urged the administration and Congress to “work earnestly and cooperatively” to end the government shutdown as quickly as possible. The current shutdown means farmers and ranchers are being delayed in securing loans and crop insurance as well as disaster and trade assistance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of important provisions of the farm bill.
Delegates voted to favor negotiations to resolve trade disputes, rather than the use of tariffs or withdrawal from agreements. They also voted to support the United States’ entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Delegates supported improved broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. AFBF will work with the Federal Communications Commission to address map inaccuracies.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Delegates supported increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues. Delegates also voted to support funding for the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network, which was included in the 2018 farm bill. AFBF will urge appropriations committees to fund this program, which is critical to address the mental health issues faced by many farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans.
To learn more about the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention, click here.