Farm Bill, national meeting and economics reviewed at WyFB meeting
Cheyenne – “Offices will be closed and the farm programs as we have known them in recent history will be much different than they are now,” said Wyoming Farm Bureau Vice President Jim Hefenieder at the organization’s legislative meeting Feb. 27 – 28, speaking of the 2012 Farm Bill.
Hefenieder relayed remarks from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s presentation at the American Farm Bureau (AFB) annual meeting, held this year in Hawaii.
“As the Farm Bill moves ahead, we will find out what these programs will look like,” continued Hefenieder. “Secretary Vilsack also talked about deep cuts that will be occurring in the Department of Ag. I think most of us hope there will be a lot of spending cuts as a whole.”
Policy emphasizes insurance over direct payments
Hefenieder also mentioned that three Wyoming members served among the 350 delegates charged with setting Farm Bureau’s policy for the next year, and one of AFB’s Farm Bill policies emphasizes insurance, rather than the direct counter-cyclical payments the crop industry has seen over the past few years.
“Those payments were not sustainable if we’re to make any headway in the federal government’s problems,” he added. “Risk management will be more important in the future for producers.”
On behalf of Wyoming’s members, Hefenieder also mentioned that the state submitted several resolutions dealing with eminent domain, sugar policy and wild horse issues, noting that one resolution related to sugar was particularly complicated.
“I think we were able to see our way through that and hopefully we’ve got policies put together in the way that we need them to be as we move forward,” Hefenieder noted.
Behind the scenes
Wyoming Farm Bureau’s Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton added, “We try to address the issues while you are free to take part in the other aspects of the business. We do rely on your time and energy to get things done.”
“It’s all about talking to people,” Hamilton commented. “We, as Farm Bureau members, can try to mitigate potential threats by being active in our country and at the state level.”
Looking into the economic future
Other national issues of importance to Farm Bureau included the economy.
“We are at an exceptional period of time with net farm income, and that is fun,” said Hefenieder. “We also have indications that the U.S. economy is improving a little bit.”
He explained that two groups of economists have focused on different parts of the world for indications of the economic future. While one group cautions that activity in China is critical, the other argues that what happens in the European Union will be more important.
“Another warning the economists have given us is that the Bush tax cuts were extended, but by only another year or so,” added Hefenieder. “We will see those revert back, and that will be a huge tax increase. That is something we need to be aware of.”
Speaking with the
President Perry Livingston, Southeast District Director Kevin Baars and Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Brett Moline also represented Wyoming Farm Bureau at a formal dinner at the Governor’s mansion.
“We were pleased to find that the Governor and First Lady were warm and gracious, and it was a good opportunity to interact with Governor Mead,” Hefenieder reported. “He has emphasized the importance of agriculture in the state of Wyoming, and that is unique from recent administrations.”
Mead also emphasized that, to govern Wyoming, he needs to have contact and a strong interaction with citizens of the state.
“We have an opportunity to make the Governor aware of our concerns,” said Hefenieder. “I find that encouraging.”
Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com