American Farm Bureau delegates want risk management in farm bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Voting delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual meeting in Nashville earlier this month voiced support for a bipartisan, reform-minded farm bill, crafted around a broad, flexible, crop-insurance-based program, including risk-management protection for peanuts, rice, forage and specialty crops.

“We will push hard, in cooperation with our congressional and administration allies, for a five-year farm bill that provides our farmers certainty and extends much-needed risk management tools across more acres and more crops,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas.

Delegates said AFBF would not only support a farm bill with a strong safety net and risk management programs to protect farmers from catastrophes, but they also would work for programs that provide emergency assistance for livestock and tree producers not covered by federal crop insurance programs.

Delegates reaffirmed policy supporting changes to the dairy safety net, consistent with the margin insurance programs included in versions of the farm bill approved by the House and Senate ag committees.

No raw milk support

On another dairy issue, delegates approved a new policy that states only pasteurized milk and milk products should be sold for human consumption.

Other key issues

On national fiscal policy, delegates reaffirmed the importance of a sound budget process with a priority on spending restraints rather than tax increases.

Delegates also voted to support streamlining or replacement of the H-2A seasonal and temporary agricultural worker program in addition to allowing experienced, undocumented agricultural workers to adjust to legal status.

Biotechnology

Recognizing the important role played by agricultural biotechnology and rapid developments in the industry, delegates expressed continued support of a private-sector, industry accord to govern how biotech traits are managed when patents expire.

They also reiterated support for the continued implementation of an industry solution that promotes investment and marketability of new technologies.

Delegates voted to support greater flexibility within the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Specifically, they voted to oppose mandatory limits on calories and serving sizes for lean meats, protein-rich foods and dairy products.

The policies approved at the annual meeting will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization in its legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2013.

Leadership vote

The delegates newly elected three state Farm Bureau presidents to the AFBF board of directors: Richard Bonanno of Massachusetts (Northeast Region), Jimmy Parnell of Alabama (Southern Region) and Don Shawcroft of Colorado (Western Region).

Fourteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to represent their regions on the AFBF board of directors: Midwest Region: Craig Hill of Iowa, Kevin Paap of Minnesota, Don Villwock of Indiana and Wayne Wood of Michigan. Southern Region: Ronnie Anderson of Louisiana, Kenneth Dierschke of Texas, Zippy Duvall of Georgia, Mike Spradling of Oklahoma, Lacy Upchurch of Tennessee and Larry Wooten of North Carolina. Northeast Region: Dean Norton of New York and Carl Shaffer of Pennsylvania. Western Region: Perry Livingston of Wyoming and Paul Wenger of California.

Zach Hunnicutt, a crop farmer from Nebraska, was elected the new chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, which also makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors during his one-year term.

Terry Gilbert of Kentucky was re-elected to serve a two-year term as chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee and on the AFBF board of directors.

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