AFBF delegates approve general principles for next farm bill

Delegates covered the full range of agriculture policy over the day-long session, held Jan. 10. Regarding the farm bill, delegates approved a new section of policy subtitled “Farm Bill Principles.” The purpose of this section is to give state Farm Bureaus and American Farm Bureau lobbyists some general guidelines to follow as Congress begins work on the 2018 farm bill.

Among the principles included in the new section: protecting current farm bill program spending; maintaining a unified farm bill which includes nutrition programs and farm programs together; that any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949; and that risk management tools, which include both federal crop insurance and commodity programs, remain top funding priorities.

Indiana Farm Bureau had proposed a significant amount of language new to the policy book – much more than most years – and a very high percentage of that language was adopted by AFBF delegates, noted Bob White, INFB’s national government relations director. Of the 26 policy changes that had been approved during INFB’s delegate session and accepted by the AFBF resolutions committee, 25 were adopted by the full AFBF delegate body

Much of that new language involved the upcoming farm bill debate, but there were also resolutions favoring effective enforcement of all immigration laws, more allocation of funds for the maintenance and improvement of transportation infrastructure and a unified method of wetland determination by the Natural Resource Conservation Service for all agencies.

“The actions taken today by our farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation represent the culmination of our year-long grassroots policy process,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It also provides us a roadmap for actions AFBF will take to implement our policies throughout this year, and I am optimistic about those prospects.”

Delegates approved policy supporting regulatory reform, including legislation to eliminate “judicial deference,” which has essentially nullified the power of the courts to serve as a check on agency abuses. Delegates also approved a special resolution urging Congress to enact swift, meaningful and strongly bipartisan regulatory reform.

Also on the topic of regulations, delegates approved policy to oppose agency advocacy campaigns in support of their own proposed regulations.

Delegates overwhelmingly approved language supporting efforts to fund nutrition programs including food assistance and school lunches through the same, unified farm bill that funds farm safety-net programs. Indiana Farm Bureau policy also supports this concept.

Delegates reaffirmed strong support for risk-management and safety-net tools to defend against volatile commodity markets; for flexibility in the H-2A program that would allow workers to seek employment from more than one farmer; and for the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers.

For more on the delegate session, see AFBF’s news release.