Wyoming ag groups look to 2018 with optimism
Setting priorities for 2018 has been top of mind for many agriculture advocacy groups in the final days of 2017.
Concerns at both the federal and state level will continue to be prominent.
Wyoming Farm Bureau’s (WyFB) Ken Hamilton says, “Our priority will continue to be to protect private property rights.”
While the upcoming budget session has consumed much time for ag groups, their focus for the year will lie in interacting with the federal government.
Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts will remain engaged on the federal level for the new year, notes the organization’s Executive Director Bobbie Frank.
“We will remain involved in waters of the U.S. issues, and we hope, with congressional efforts, to see movement and modernization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” she says.
Hamilton agrees, adding that removal of gray wolves and grizzly bears from the endangered species list has been accomplished, but WyFB is looking forward to seeing improvements to the ESA to improve that process.
“Unfortunately, the real solution lies with Congress and the close margins between parties,” he says. “This may be a long time coming.”
Further, Frank looks forward to engaging in federal land planning and implementation for local conservation districts.
For Scott Zimmerman and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, passage of a new farm bill is a top priority in 2018.
“Our current farm bill is just not meeting producers’ needs when it comes to a safety net in times of low commodity prices,” he explains. “Although we are concerned about whether the passage of a farm bill can be accomplished in an election year, we still plan to make it our main focus.”
As another hot topic, Hamilton explains that the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative has spurred discussion about how to reform how wilderness designations occur.
“When Wyoming has the largest percentage of Forest Service lands in wilderness of any state in the nation, designation of more wilderness is troubling, as is the fact that, once identified, this land is managed for wilderness characteristics until Congressional action is taken,” he says. “The unfairness of this situation is apparent.”
“Depending on the outcome litigation, the trespass to collect data litigation legislation will continue to be a priority to ensure integrity and respect of private property in data collection,” Frank adds.
As they look forward, all of Wyoming’s agriculture industry organizations agreed that 2018 will be another busy year, especially as it relates to interactions with the federal government and the upcoming state election cycle.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.