Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 92nd Annual Meeting voted to maintain a strong farm income safety net, address dairy price volatility and urge greater oversight of regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, the delegates reiterated their support for extending the concepts of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Delegates believe farm program baseline funds should not be diverted outside the farm bill. The new farm bill should maintain a strong "safety net" that consists of direct payments, a simplified Average Crop Revenue Election program and the countercyclical, marketing loan and crop insurance programs. They also adopted policy that provides flexibility to move forward with farm policy within the budget framework that will become clearer later this year.
A new direction in dairy policy is needed, according to the delegates, to reduce milk price volatility. Recent years have seen both historical but short-term highs and devastating longer-term lows in milk prices. A resolution approved by the delegates says, in essence, that the dairy price support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs have not performed adequately.
Also, the delegates adopted new policy in support of a dairy risk management program that offers protection based on gross margins after subtracting feed costs. Funding could utilize all funding previously allocated to dairy price support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs to a new risk management program.
The delegates also reaffirmed support for establishing a guest worker program that meets agriculture's need for farm labor, fair and open world trade and continued inclusion of the word "navigable" in the Clean Water Act's definition of the water bodies that are subject to federal regulatory jurisdiction.
Four state Farm Bureau presidents were elected to the AFBF board of directors during the meeting. They are Blake Hurst of Missouri; Pat Langenfelder of Maryland; Randy Knight of Mississippi; and Paul Wenger of California. Sixteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to the board.
Ben LaCross, a Michigan grower of cherries, plums and apples, was elected the new chairman of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Terry Gilbert, a corn and cattle producer from Kentucky, and Sherry Saylor, a cotton producer from Arizona, were re-elected as chair and vice-chair of the Women's Leadership Committee.