The federal deficit, mounting regulations by appointed state boards and the 2012 Farm Bill topped the topics of lively debate among the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation voting delegates who met in West Des Moines September 2 and 3 to approve policy. The state's largest grassroots farm organization members gather annually at its Summer Policy Conference to approve policies that impact farmers, rural vitality and all Iowa taxpayers.
"Our members spent a lot of time discussing the need and the difficulties of reducing our nation's $13 trillion deficit, which is a burden we don't want to saddle with our grandchildren," says IFBF president Craig Lang. "Our voting delegates agreed that fiscal responsibility should be the cornerstone of all our state and national policies, and that includes the 2012 Farm Bill."
Despite talk of eliminating all farm programs, Iowa Farm Bureau members last Friday voted to defend most USDA programs but proposed eliminating direct payments in exchange for improved risk-management tools, such as crop insurance and crop revenue insurance.
Farm Bureau calls for end to USDA direct payments to farmers
Voting delegates discussed a wide range of options and acknowledged regional differences, but agreed that the new 2012 Farm Bill must provide a dependable, fiscally responsible safety net for all farmers. "Instead of direct payments, we agreed the money should be used to enhance a sound revenue insurance program, risk management and fair trade. Our members also agreed the next farm bill should help beginning farmers improve their income," says Lang.
These IFBF policy positions will be forwarded and subject to national debate during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) policy discussions to be held January 9-12, 2011 in Atlanta, Ga.
At last week's Iowa Farm Bureau summer policy meeting, extensive discussion also centered on regulations. "Farm Bureau members agreed that all state regulations and rules proposed by unelected members of departments, commissions, boards or agencies have to win legislative approval before they can be put in place," says Lang. "The Environmental Protection Commission, or EPC, is one such appointed board that has been given free reign for too long."
IFB wants state Environmental Protection Commission eliminated
He adds, "Our members support elimination of the Iowa EPC because many of the EPC's proposed rules go far beyond those already enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and extend past the scope or intention of those who created the state board."
IFBF delegates also voted to increase the use of renewable fuels, achieving the highest renewable fuel standard possible, requiring all gasoline sold in Iowa to be blended with ethanol at the maximum rate allowed in the standard automotive fleet. Additionally, Farm Bureau voting delegates wrote policy opposing the expansion of the 100-year flood plain and any additional restrictions beyond current law. Always interested in improving soil and water conservation measures on the farm, members also discussed the erosion reduction benefits of tile drainage and oppose any new regulation of the use of tile drainage.
The September 2-3 Summer Policy Conference is a key step in Farm Bureau's grassroots policy development process, with the Iowa Farm Bureau's national policies yet to be submitted to the AFBF. All state Farm Bureaus meet in January each year to finalize the organization's national policies.