Seven Farm Bureau members represented Oklahoma at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Issue Advisory Committee meetings February 17-18 in Arlington, VA.
The IAC meetings bring together Farm Bureau members from across the country to discuss pertinent issues facing agriculture including energy, environmental regulations, ag labor, organic and direct marketing, technology, animal care, farm policy, water, budget and economy, federal land, food safety and market structures.
Karen Dodson of Caddo County served on the budget and economy committee. Top areas of discussion in her committee were income taxes, interest rates and the upcoming farm bill.
“These committees – other than the grassroots – are the only input to changing current policy and what we stand for and support,” she said.
A longtime farmer and certified public accountant, Dodson brought a wealth of knowledge to her committee.
“It takes my non-farm career and fine-tunes that down to where it does help farmers and ranchers,” she said. “As a CPA, that’s not something you normally think is farm-related, but it allows me to use my accounting and tax knowledge to be able to have input on that topic down to that degree.”
Josh Anderson of Johnston County served on the environmental regulations committee, which discussed the effects of regulations handed down from the Environmental Protection Agency. Restrictions on Enlist Duo, a commonly used herbicide, was a major topic of conversation.
“The potential issues with the two active ingredients – 2, 4-D and glyphosate – play a big part in crop production,” he said.
Anderson said he enjoyed serving on the committee and knows he can bring what he learned back home to help the grassroots policymaking process.
“It’s a good way to see the issues that are happening in the country as a whole, and it gives us some good insight looking forward in how we can protect Oklahomans,” he said.
For Cody Goodknight of Comanche County, serving on the technology committee hit close to home, especially when discussing rural broadband. As a farmer in rural southwest Oklahoma, broadband access is a necessity as machinery gets more advanced and often needs a wireless data connection.
“It’s not just (needed) where people live,” he said. “We are operating machinery and doing a lot of work in the field. We don’t want to have to go back to the house to hook up to a cable connection.”
Goodknight said serving on the committee helps him stay up to date with current issues in the agriculture industry.
“I like being part of a solution to a problem,” he said. “These are issues that we face on a day-to-day basis, and if I can gather that information from across the nation with other Farm Bureau members and figure out a solution to a common problem, it’s interesting, challenging and rewarding to me.”
Scott Neufeld of Major County said the new Farm Bill was the primary conversation in the farm policy committee, with climate-smart practices at the forefront.
“I’ve heard of climate change and climate implications, but climate-smart is the new buzzword,” he said. “What will we be doing in the new Farm Bill that will be climate-smart?”
Neufeld said the committee expects many voluntary and incentive-based climate-friendly practices will appear in the new Farm Bill.
Chad Budy of Woods County said solar energy was the primary topic for the energy committee, unlike years past when wind energy discussion was the focus. Conversation centered on transmission lines and the effect it has on landowners, he said.
Budy formerly leased out some of his land for wind energy, but the endeavor was short-lived when he found out his property was in a military flight zone. He now thinks that land might be a good candidate for solar energy.
“The (solar) industry has come a long way,” Budy said. “I think it could be a potential asset for us.”
Jordan Cook, a seedstock producer in Washita County, served on the animal care committee. She said major topics in her committee were animal diseases, gene editing and California’s Proposition 12.
“It’s very interesting to see what’s going on in different states, and especially with the animal care committee, just all the different things out there that living in Oklahoma we’re not really aware of,” she said.
Cook said she feels very fortunate to live in a state like Oklahoma where farmers and ranchers do not always face the same issues as those in other states. She said she learned a lot in her committee meeting and has more research to do.
“It’s really a learning experience and something I can bring back home,” she said.
Chad Selman of Tulsa County joined the agricultural labor committee virtually this year. He said his committee focused heavily on H2A labor, discussing what works well and what does not.
They also discussed overtime pay, housing for agricultural workers and the ability for workers’ spouses to join them while in the United States. Overall, the committee wants to make the process easier for legal immigrant workers, Selman said.
Each OKFB member was nominated to their respective committee by OKFB president Rodd Moesel. They serve a two-year term with a maximum of four years total. In addition to the annual in-person meeting, committees meet regularly via conference call or Zoom to continue their discussion and make recommendations to the AFBF Board of Directors.