WyFB adopts policy and elects leaders during annual meeting
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) held its 104th Annual Meeting Nov. 9-11 at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne.
During the three-day event, WyFB members and other attendees participated in a “Water in Wyoming” Seminar, attended standing committee meetings, heard from keynote speakers, adopted policy and elected leaders.
On the morning of Nov. 10, WyFB kicked off their general session with WyFB President Todd Fornstrom presiding.
Fornstrom called the meeting to order and delegates were seated together by county. WyFB Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee State Chair Quade Palm led the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance and the Berger family of Carbon County sang the National Anthem.
Southeast District Director Kevin Baars then took to the stage to welcome meeting attendees.
“Welcome to the 104th WyFB Annual Meeting,” said Baars. “I was given input on the theme and several ideas were brought up, but they all seemed a little generic. I got an e-mail suggesting the idea of ‘It Starts With You,’ and I thought, ‘That’s it!’”
“These four little words are the cornerstone of WyFB, and President Fornstrom put it best, ‘If the theme of It Starts With You doesn’t scream grassroots, then I don’t know what does,’” he added.
Baars continued, “This process started months ago with counties drafting resolutions, which were then scrutinized at district meetings and vetted by state committees yesterday. Today and tomorrow they will be brought before the assembly and approved by membership, in which they will become WyFB policy or they will go back to the drawing board.”
However, Baars noted the work doesn’t end there, as WyFB staff will continue lobbying for and against legislation, help draft more bills and visit with government agencies and officials.
“Our grassroots policy is truly what separates us from other organizations,” Baars concluded. “Thank you for being involved, and remember, it starts with you.”
Fornstrom followed Baars’ welcome with his own address, noting although people in the room may have changed, WyFB’s mission and many of the issues the agriculture industry continues to face remain the same.
“We have water, federal lands, labor, taxes, government regulations, endangered species, wolves, grizzlies, sage grouse, eagles, wild horses and politicians in between us and what we want,” he stated. “I don’t think these things are ever going to change, but we will still be here to fight the fight.”
Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton also took to the stage to provide an address. Hamilton noted despite a multitude of issues standing in the way, WyFB always seems to get things done.
Hamilton also announced his retirement after 40 years of service to WyFB.
Among the many topics of policies adopted during the general session were non-use of federal lands, state lands, private property rights, road maintenance funding, water, wildlife management, drones and voting.
Voting delegates expressed continued opposition to the concept of non-use of federal lands through rule-making and executive orders and passed policy supporting the historic uses of Bureau of Land Management land, as stated in the Federal Land Policy Act of 1976 and the Taylor Grazing Act.
The assembly also raised concern regarding Office of State Lands lease renewals, and policy was passed calling for the State Land Board to prioritize production agriculture by ensuring current lessees in good standing retain first right of refusal on their existing leases.
On the topic of private property rights, delegates discussed air space and expressed their continued concerns for drones trespassing on private property. After a long, heated debate, an amended resolution was passed to allow private property owners the right to shoot down trespassing drones.
Water and wildlife management are two very important topics for the agriculture industry as well.
WyFB members passed policy to address the need for the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to base groundwater permits on the aquifer recharge and called for the legislature to clarify the law for the issuance of high-capacity well permits to address protecting the underground water resource.
Members also emphasized the need for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to manage certain wildlife species – those of which are over population objectives – by aggressively managing them to meet herd objectives as opposed to simply raising objective numbers.
Other discussion included reaffirmation of policy opposing mandatory animal identification, a call for Wyoming state residency requirements to vote in Wyoming, strong opposition to rank choice voting and the desire for electric vehicles to contribute to the state’s infrastructure repair.
In addition to adopting policy, WyFB also elected leaders during their annual conference.
Fornstrom was elected to his eighth term as WyFB president.
“It is hard to put into words what an honor it is to represent people like our members who continue to show up and speak up for agriculture,” Fornstrom said.
Voting delegates also elected Cole Coxbill of Goshen County to his eighth term as WyFB vice president and Lane Hageman of Goshen County to his third term as WyFB director at large.
Tucker Hamilton of Weston County was elected as the new state YF&R chair, which also gives him a seat on the WyFB Board of Directors.
Rounding out the WyFB Board of Directors are District Directors Raenell Taylor of the Northeast District, Baars of the Southeast District, Tim Pexton of the Central District, Thad Dockery of the Northwest District and Justin Ellis of the Southwest District.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.