WyFB leaders attend AFBF convention
Nashville, Tenn. – Hearing President Donald Trump address 7,400 farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Convention (AFBF) on Jan. 9 in Nashville proved to be a highlight for Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) President Todd Fornstrom and Vice President Cole Coxbill. Both leaders thought the president was forthright and engaged with his audience.
“He certainly doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it like it is,” said Fornstrom. “He said all the right things to the farmers and ranchers in the audience.”
He continued, “Certainly, his messages about tax reform, especially regarding the estate tax, the rollback of regulations and his forming an administration that understands agriculture were very well received. What resonated with me especially was how President Trump seems like a real person not a façade.”
Coxbill agreed with Fornstrom, saying, “It was a real honor to have the President of the United States address American Farm Bureau members at our convention. He was very straightforward. What really resonated with me was his tax reform, especially regarding the estate tax.”
Both leaders gave the thumbs up to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s address, which preceded Trump’s.
In his comments, Perdue addressed reform of onerous rules and the fact the administration has removed 800 regulations that affect agriculture.
“They deleted 22 regulations for every one they kept,” Fornstrom noted. “USDA has targeted 27 final rules for elimination that will save $56.15 million annually. That’s very important to farmers and ranchers trying to run their businesses.”
Perdue asked farmers and ranchers to bring any onerous regulations to USDA’s attention by visiting the agency’s website.
“What impressed me particularly was Mr. Perdue is only the fourth farmer to serve as our Secretary of Agriculture. That’s a real win for Farm Bureau and agriculture in general,” Coxbill said.
“The fact the administration is listening to farmers and ranchers in addressing – and plans to rescind – the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule is huge,” Coxbill explained. “One study found 98 percent of Wyoming would be under regulations under the Army Corps of Engineers because of WOTUS.”
He continued, “Another regulation causing a lot of concern are the trucking regulations. Both Todd and I deal with those regulations and believe the new Electronic Logging Device and Hours of Service regulations will be a serious problem for livestock owners, livestock auctions and feedlots. We are hoping the Trump administration can do something with the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) to exempt agriculture and/or mitigate these rules.”
Further, Coxbill explained, when trucking livestock, often things don’t go as planned, and regulations limit driving time to 14 hours in a truck.
“FMCSA doesn’t realize we might be sitting for six hours while cattle are gathered and trucks are loaded, and that can really cut into the allotted 14 hours of service,” he said. “Then, when we have to take 10 hours off, we can’t just sleep on the side of the road with the animals standing in the truck.”
The Resolutions Session was also held during the AFBF Annual Business Meeting where delegates from state Farm Bureaus voted on AFBF policy for the coming year. Resolutions approved by farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation ran the gamut of issues, from trade to regulatory reform, crop insurance, biotechnology and more.
The body voted to increase dues to AFBF by one dollar per member, thus providing necessary funding to the country’s largest agricultural organization.
“Sitting as a voting member in the Delegate Session is a great honor,” said Coxbill. “It starts at the county level and works its way up.”
He added, “It’s good to see the culmination of policy that is diverse and allows us to learn about other commodities and their concerns. For instance, they were talking about a resolution regarding dairy policy, which was out of my and Todd’s realm of understanding, so we texted another delegate across the room who knew about a dairy issue. He provided us with knowledge enabling us to make an educated vote.”
In addition to time spent in the convention center Jan. 5-10, Farm Bureau leaders had the opportunity to attend a tour and reception at the RFD-TV headquarters.
“It was interesting to see their studio and facility and learn how their programming is produced. One of the people working there was from Cheyenne,” Fornstrom noted.
One benefit of attending this national convention is networking with other farmers and ranchers.
“We can sit with anyone in the room and have a conversation. They’re like a neighbor,” Coxbill said. “I talked to folks from Indiana and Illinois, and even though they might have different commodities, climates and landscapes, we have similar concerns with commodity prices being low, experiencing a drought or having too much moisture.”
“Everyone is always more than happy to visit and share information about their farms and ranches,” Coxbill commented. “That’s what makes this convention – and Farm Bureau – great.”
Rebecca Colnar is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org