WyFB renews ag policy
Sheridan — In early November the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) gathered in Sheridan for their 89th annual meeting, which included education, elections and policy decisions.
“It is a real privilege to serve agriculture and Wyoming Farm Bureau members,” said WyFB President Perry Livingston, who was reelected to a fourth term, in his address to the members. “The changes that will occur in January are significant and radical to most of our minds. Conservatism as we in agriculture know it will come under great scrutiny in the next four years. Lack of experience and moving too fast will cause some heartburn and may be very expensive.”
He said the situation reminds him of being horseback five miles from home with an approaching thunderstorm. “You know you can’t get there, and you don’t quite know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“In Wyoming we are continuing to face issues with the wolf, sage grouse and forest plans, to name a few,” he continued. “There is no shortage of items on our plate and that is what makes this job interesting and challenging.”
“We are one year from meeting for nine decades, and that speaks well of the commitment of the WyFB members,” said WyFB Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton in his report.
“One of the things that’s happened recently – that I didn’t think would ever happen in this country – is we started to have a discussion on the importance of food and whether we’re going to have adequate amounts,” said Hamilton. “The conversation took a different turn when they started talking about food versus fuel, and that debate still goes on today.”
He said the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) looked into the issue and found that, while there is some impact when food is produced and used for fuel, the majority of the impacts come from the use of fuel to produce food. “That spells out an important thing for this nation,” explained Hamilton. “We have to recognize we need both fuel and food, and we have to have some coherent policy to ensure we have long-term energy for this country. We have to do it in a fashion that is economical.”
Hamilton also add-ressed the issue of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL). “Voting delegates at the AFBF annual meeting changed the policy of the AFBF from voluntary COOL to mandatory COOL,” he said. “That’s an example of how votes that start out in this room and in your counties help influence policy for agriculture in the U.S.”
However, he said the job isn’t done with COOL. “We have to recognize the same producer here in Wyoming that spends a lot of time and care raising an animal will have the same label on their meat as the person that uses the cow as a hobby. The American consumer will not be able to differentiate between the beef raised by ag producers and the food raised as a hobby. We’re going to have to work to make sure the American public is aware that a product produced in the U.S. is a very good product.”
Voting delegates at the meeting reelected Jim Hefenieder of Worland to his fourth term as WyFB Vice President. “Farm Bureau is the voice for agriculture and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve our members and implementing the policy developed from the grassroots,” said Hefenieder, who farms and feeds cattle with his wife Beth and his family.
Glen Reed of Park County, who farms with his brother Dennis, was elected to the position of Director-At-Large. Reed and Dennis operate a 900-acre flood irrigated farm, primarily raising sugar beets and malt barley.
“I’ll continue doing what I have at the county level and will take that work to the state level to affect a broader scope of people,” said Reed. “I look forward to working closely on the issues facing Farm Bureau and helping the Wyoming Farm Bureau work to accomplish our goals on the issues at hand.”
The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Chalsey Kortes to serve a third term as the state committee chair. This position occupies a seat on the WyFB Board of Directors. Kortes and her parents run a cow/calf operation near Hanna.
Voting delegates at the meeting passed resolutions relating to brucellosis, wolves and energy, among others. “The brucellosis issue was one high in our members’ concerns,” said Hamilton. “We support the establishment of a management area and would like to see changes in the compensation program. We’re also very supportive of increasing funding to address the issues of brucellosis vaccination.”
Hamilton said members feel strongly that Wyoming needs to adhere to the law passed in 2003 relating to the trophy game and predator status of the wolf. “There was also some discussion on getting the federal government to enhance energy and conduct some natural resource exploration,” he said.
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.