Farm Bureau Trump headlines AFBF convention
Published on Feb. 1, 2020
Hearing the President of the United States and seeing Wyoming policy brought to the voting delegate floor during the 101st American Farm Bureau Convention were high points for the eight Wyoming Farm Bureau member who travelled to Austin, Texas January 17-22 to participate in the gathering.
President Donald Trump assured farmers and ranchers that a top priority of his administration is fighting for the farmers and ranchers who grow our food. In his address Trump listed numerous victories of his administration in trade, regulatory reform, rural connectivity and ag labor.
“Our recent trade deals are just the beginning of a really incredible story,” Trump told more than 5,000 enthusiastic farmers and ranchers.
He pointed out that farmers and ranchers deserved a level playing field in trade and now they have it and more with China, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the trade agreement with Japan and others in the works.
“I want to help those who harvest or herd sell their products all around the world,” he noted.
Trump covered regulatory reform including the withdrawal of Waters of the U.S. Rule. “This president will never micro-manage America’s farms,” he said. “There are no better stewards of our precious natural resources than the American farmers who depend on the land and the environment for their very livelihood. Farmers and ranchers love their land.”
In addition, he touted the investments continuing to be made in getting rural broadband to all rural communities across America.
“It was great seeing President Trump for the third year in a row,” said Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) President Todd Fornstrom. “What I especially admire is that he admits he doesn’t know much about farming or ranching, but does his research and he’s willing to learn and listen to those people involved with it.”
He continued, “He said he didn’t know much about wheat, but quickly found out how important that commodity is to America’s farmers in the trade arena. He understands that farmers would rather have trade than aid. We like our independence, being responsible and pulling our own weight.”
Fornstrom said having Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue was also a highlight. “Secretary Purdue comes across as such a genuine person who is actually involved in agriculture, and I believe that gives him standing when he speaks,” said Fornstrum. “He understands what farmers and ranchers are dealing with and he also knows the political side of his position.”
Fornstrum continued, “At this point, I don’t know a batter person to do his job. It means a lot when the Secretary of Agriculture shows up with the president at your convention.”
Delegate Session is the backbone of convention
Although the American Farm Bureau Convention consists of the exciting general sessions, workshops, the trade show and great networking, its main purpose is having voting delegates selected from state Farm Bureaus to discuss and vote on American Farm Bureau Policy for 2020.
“Wyoming had a few policies that made it to the national delegate floor, and one from Carbon County Farm Bureau authored by rancher Kyle Berger regarding making it illegal to use drones for harassing livestock on federal and state lands,” said Fornstrom.” It was fun to see that go through.”
Fornstrom pointed out that it’s good to see the western states stick together on issues that affect them.
“Being able to see grassroots policy make go all the way through to the national spotlight is fulfilling, it’s what Farm Bureau is about,” Fornstrom said. “It’s exciting that even Wyoming Farm Bureau’s delegation here representing 13,000 members is part of a platform that is representing six million members.”
WyFB’s Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton, also praised the policy process. “Sometimes our policy will get combined with other states having similar policy, but it’s good to know the policy we set at our state convention in November is part of this process,” said Hamilton
The AFBF Convention gives Hamilton the opportunity to touch base with his counterparts in other states and learn more about what legal actions are going on.
“We all were talking about the demise of the Waters of the U.S and the new clean water rule,” said Hamilton. “We had a conversation with people from Illinois and the National Resource Conservation Service’s attempt to do their “swamp busting” by classifying an area as a wetland when it was an approved for farming, converted wetland.”
Hamilton said a workshop on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights opened his eyes to serious legislation that will prove very detrimental to farming and private property rights.
“The city of Toledo, Ohio, voted, although it was only nine-percent of the population who voted in a special election, to implement the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). This bill, which gives the lake human rights, allows any citizen to sue a business or governmental entity if they feel the LEBOR is being violated,” Hamilton explained.
He continued, “The activists have even talked to the United Nations about how wonderful this is. The expanse is ill-defined and gives the city of Toledo the ability to reach outside of its city limits and impact people who have no say. The Ohio Farm Bureau says the ag community is stepping up to fight it, but it will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate. Their best hope is a judge will find it unlawful.”
Although the convention was positive and upbeat with new trade deals looming, the defeat of WOTUS and the president speaking, there was a sad overtone as the wife of AFBF President Zippy Duvall passed away after losing a battle with ovarian cancer Jan. 18.
“Being the Farm Bureau family, the members were especially sad to learn of Bonnie’s passing,” Hamilton said. “The fact that both the president of the United States and the Secretary of Agriculture talked about Bonnie and their sympathy for the Duvall family was especially touching. We all mourned Bonnie’s passing and wish the Duvalls strength and healing in this hard time.”
Rebecca Colnar is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.