WyFB Looks Forward to Annual MeetingWritten by Ken Hamilton
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting will be in Laramie Nov. 10-12 to talk about issues that county Farm Bureaus feel are important to their membership. In conjunction with the Wyoming Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation will hold a symposium on poisonous plants.
The WyFB Foundation Symposium on Nov. 10 begins at 8:30 a.m. and will feature scientists from the USDA Poisonous Plants Lab in Logan, Utah. Dr. Kip Panter, Dr. Kevin Welch and Dr. Clint Stonecipher will present ongoing research and solutions to problems caused by poisonous plants. Some of the research and work that is being done at this facility is pretty exciting.
The symposium is free and open to the public.
Farm Bureau members will also be electing a new president to head up our organization since President Perry Livingston, who has lead the Wyoming Farm Bureau for 11 years, will be retiring. Having dedicated leaders to work on behalf of Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers is something for which all of us in agriculture can be thankful. We certainly are grateful when someone dedicates the time that President Livingston has to work for agriculture at the state and national levels.
Of course, the entire purpose of our meeting is to discuss and vote on resolutions sent in by our counties on policy issues that concern these grassroots members. Naturally, these cover a broad range of topics including proposed policies on special tax districts, shed antler hunting, speed limiting devices on vehicles and a host of other topics.
In addition to policy discussions, members will also hear a variety of updates. Ryan Yates, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, will talk about policy and priorities for the lame duck session and the new Congress and Administration. Ryan also deals with a lot of the federal lands issues for the American Farm Bureau, so he will also discuss various federal lands issues.
Katelyn McCullock, who is in the Economics Division with the American Farm Bureau, will bring her perspective on the economic outlook for livestock for the coming year.
Cole Coxbill, chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher Committee and AFBF board member, will also update the members on all of the activities of the American Farm Bureau, as well as the activities of the Wyoming Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher program.
Fall is a busy time of year with harvest activities. We are thankful for the many volunteers who take the time from their busy schedule to travel to the Farm Bureau annual meeting and finish the process that started at the counties in developing direction for the Federation in the coming year. These are your neighbors and you can support them through your membership or by getting involved at the local level.
This is our 97th annual meeting, and for the 97th year in a row, Farm Bureau will continue working to keep agriculture strong in Wyoming.
Wyoming SRM Emphasizes Range HealthWritten by Mae Smith
Rangelands are grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, wetlands and deserts that support mostly native vegetation and are grazed by domestic animals. That sounds like Wyoming, doesn’t it? In fact, rangelands cover 85 percent of Wyoming.
Everyone in Wyoming is tied to rangelands. For ranchers, the connection is obvious, as their livelihood is reliant on this land to raise livestock. And, of course, we Wyomingites love our beef. Many of us also take advantage of public lands for recreational activities like hunting, camping, off-road vehicle use or just for a nice Sunday drive.
There is a big group of us who make a living managing these beautiful landscapes. This sector includes ag producers; federal land management agencies– like the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and national parks; state lands; private lands; non-governmental organizations; educational entities; and others. With so many people employed in rangeland management, it makes sense that there would be a professional organization where these people can come together, share ideas and learn the latest science.
Society for Range Management (SRM) is the professional society dedicated to supporting persons who work with rangelands and have a commitment to their sustainable use. There are members from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Wyoming has an active membership of 132 people in our “section.” Much of the membership is comprised of agency employees and educational entities, but we would love to have more ag producers as members.
You may wonder what Wyoming SRM (WY SRM) does throughout the year. One event WY SRM organizes is Wyoming Resource Education Days (WyRED). This is a weeklong outdoor camp for youth that introduces participants to range management principles and techniques. They dig soil pits, estimate forage production, identify plants, tour ranches and have a lot of fun. We hope to inspire the next generation to fill those much needed range manager positions.
Wyoming SRM not only focuses on youth education but also offers professional development opportunities. Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) are incredibly useful tools to assist in range management decisions, so there have been workshops on what ESDs are and how to use them. There have also been range schools offered throughout the state. These schools are intensive classroom and field-based courses that cover range management topics such as soils, plants, grazing, monitoring, drought and wildlife.
Wyoming SRM also hosts an annual meeting that rotates around the state. As President-elect of this great organization, I got the pleasure of planning this year’s meeting. The meeting is a great opportunity to network with others who are dedicated to rangelands, hear what projects are going on across the state and learn about range-related topics.
The meeting will be in Cody from Nov. 15-17 at the Holiday Inn. We will be co-hosting with the Wildlife Society. This has been a great collaboration because we will hear about wildlife, range and how they interact through habitat. Larry Butler, host of RFD-TV show “Out on the Land,” will be one of the keynote speakers, along with Steven Buskirk and Joshua Millspaugh.
Some of the other events include a viewing of the PBS film, “The Range Riders,” featuring Wyoming ranchers and how grazing and large predators can co-exist. There will be a morning dedicated to sage grouse monitoring and what techniques are used by different agencies.
The afternoon workshop will be hands-on learning about components of Ecological Site Descriptions. The Nature Conservancy’s Heart Mountain Ranch is the location of the half-day tour where we’ll see beaver dam analogues, range improvement projects and talk about grizzly bear populations.
The conference will conclude with the banquet at the Cody Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Registration is only $40 and the website for the conference is wytwsconference.org. Please join us at the meeting to see what Wyoming SRM is all about.
There is an SRM representative in your area that you can connect with to ask questions, get involved or make suggestions for educational events you’d like to see. The current WYSRM Council members are:
President: Jessica Crowder
President-Elect: Mae Smith
Past President: Windy Kelley
Secretary/Treasurer: Marji Patz
Newsletter Editor: Brian Sebade
Northeast Council Rep: Kassie Bales
Northwest Council Rep: Curtis Bryan
Southeast Council Rep: Sarah Kauer
Southwest Council Rep: Bryan Christensen
The Northeast and Southwest representatives will change and a new President-elect will be selected at this meeting.
Rural America Stays Strong, ResilientWritten by Barack Obama
I’ve spent most of my life living in big cities. But the truth is, a lot of what’s shaped me came from my grandparents who grew up on the prairie in Kansas. They taught me the kind of values that don’t always make headlines, let alone the daily back-and-forth in Washington. Honesty and responsibility. Hard work and toughness against adversity. Keeping your word and giving back to your community. And treating folks with respect, even if you disagree with them.
They’re the same values I saw as a Senator in Illinois, driving long country roads to visit with folks in small towns. They’re the same values I saw in Iowa, campaigning for this office in community centers and coffee shops and high school cafeterias. They’re the same values that have inspired me every day as President, in visits to all 50 states and letters I read every night from every corner of this nation. And it’s only reinforced my belief that the values that drive our small towns and rural communities are the same ones that drive America as a whole.
At the same time, what’s also true is that when our country is tested, our rural communities are tested, as well. An economy that’s been changing for decades – more automation, more global competition – has, in many ways, hit rural communities particularly hard. Too many people are still fighting back from the recklessness on Wall Street that shuttered storefronts on Main Street. Too many workers are still reeling from plants that moved overseas and took good jobs with them. Too many communities are struggling to compete, hamstrung by lagging infrastructure like slow or nonexistent broadband connections, and too many families have been ravaged by the heartbreaking epidemic of opioid use.
For too long, leaders who could do something to help have passed the buck or pointed fingers, rather than offer concrete solutions and new avenues of opportunity. But we’ve pursued a different approach – one that helps workers retrain and learn the skills they need for a job in the new economy. One that supports small businesses and entrepreneurs to help attract more of the new economy’s jobs to rural communities. One that upgrades our schools – from working toward universal preschool to two years of free community college – so that all our kids have the same chance to reach their potential without having to leave their hometown.
Over the last eight years, my administration has worked hand-in-hand with rural communities to build more opportunity – investing in rural schools, supporting rural small business owners, deploying high speed internet and wireless and building partnerships between businesses and colleges to help train folks not just for a job but for a career. And for those struggling with opioid use, we’ve expanded access to treatment to help them get the care they need.
So we’re making progress – progress that’s possible only because of the strength and resilience of the people in our rural communities.
In Clinton County, Ohio, young people have organized to tackle the brain drain, creating a fellowship program that matches local businesses with college students home for the summer. And those young people aren’t just learning, they’re leading – just last year, Wilmington, Ohio elected a majority-millennial city council.
In Piedmont, Ala., school leaders have invested in high-speed connectivity and laptops for every student, so that teachers can tailor lessons to individual students and assess each student’s progress in real time. Already, test scores and graduation rates are up, and tiny Piedmont City School District has emerged as a national model for digital learning.
That’s what rural America can look like in the 21st century – smart investments that lead to real, tangible progress. Today, rural unemployment has dropped from a high of about 10 percent during the Great Recession to six percent. The rural child poverty rate is dropping, and rural median household incomes are rising again.
We certainly still have more work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. And that couldn’t be more important. Because as a prominent rural Kansan – President Eisenhower – once said, “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.”
In so many ways, from its resilience and ingenuity in the face of a challenge to the defining values that power it every day, rural America represents that beating heart. That’s why these communities are so important – because when America’s rural communities are strong, America is strong.
Wyoming Women – Prepare for Some Fun in CasperWritten by Traci Faxon
Wyoming women in ag – your jobs are many and your responsibilities are endless! You are an important part of your agriculture operation. You deserve a day out to laugh a little, learn a little and meet new friends. Wyoming Women in Ag (WWIA) has provided women throughout Wyoming an opportunity to recognize their important role in agriculture while showcasing their unique interests and needs at our yearly ag symposium. This one-day event offers a great opportunity to build knowledge, learn new opportunities, gain new skills and build a network of support for women involved in all aspects of agriculture.
Most women in agriculture come from various backgrounds and often have very different ties to agriculture. Many of us spend days on the tractor, hours working on the books or working livestock in all kinds of weather. Others spend their time building relationships through sales, accounting, lobbying or supporting their husband’s agriculture careers or family ranches. Maybe you are a friend of agriculture and love to spend your free weekends helping a friend brand cattle. If you are one of these women, the 2016 Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium is for you!
The 23rd Annual Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium will be held Nov. 11 at the Ramkota Hotel in Casper. The daylong symposium is geared to various topics that women deal with in the agriculture industry, although the men are welcome to attend.
WWIA will start the event by offering a Nov. 10 evening hors d’oeuveres social, open to all friends and family interested in agriculture issues. The night features Karen Budd-Falen speaking on private property rights and entertainment by Wyoming Poet Laureate Pat Frolander. Don’t forget, this evening event is also free to all attendees.
This year’s symposium will motivate and entertain you to “Advocate for Agriculture” with keynote speaker Greg Peterson. Greg and his brothers found a fun way to share their life on the farm with a “few” of their friends. They created YouTube videos that quickly reached over 40 million views. Wow, that’s really advocating for agriculture! Everyone is sure to enjoy the Peterson Brothers’ farming parodies set to popular songs, and you may even relate a bit of your own agriculture life portrayed. Check out their videos at youtube.com/user/thePetersonFarmBros.
Once Greg has inspired you and made you laugh, WWIA offers you a full day of educational workshops, great Wyoming products at the trade show and lunch!
After the morning keynote, the day will continue with a wide variety of breakout sessions designed to target the issues that women see on the farm and ranch every day. Breakout sessions this year include Wyoming Livestock Board Director Steve True talking about livestock theft and practical tips to preventing theft. Velvet Hiser and Kelly Weidenbach will talk about health issues on the farm and ranch, and Cole Ehmke will look at Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in his session.
During afternoon breakouts, Kim Garrett will look at bookkeeping and helpful software for keeping the ranch’s financials in order, and Barb Sexton will look at soil health and conditions.
Following lunch, a panel of three distinguished women in the ag industry will look at hot topics facing farming, ranching and women in ag today. Panelists include Wyoming Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Stacia Berry, Wyoming Ag in the Classroom Executive Director Jessie Dafoe and Wyoming Association of Conservations Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank.
In between each session, attendees will have the chance to shop at a wide variety of booths around the symposium. Vendors will sell items ranging from pottery to skin care and photography to fun gifts. Make sure to stop by and check it all out.
Of course, none of this could happen without the support of our generous sponsors. We’re incredibly grateful to Jonah Wealth Management, Jonah Bank of Wyoming and Farm Credit Services of America for their generous support of this year’s symposium.
Registration for Friday’s Symposium is $25 before Nov. 5 or $30 beginning Nov. 6. Register online at wywomeninag.org. We can’t wait to see you there!