INFB member delegates gathered at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds on Aug. 26 to determine the policy positions of the organization for 2018.
The delegate body consisted of 260 members representing Indiana’s 92 counties. The members discussed topics including property taxes, annexation, transportation, utilities and issues related to the upcoming farm bill.
“It’s about being here to discuss policy and what’s important to us. The next step is carrying out that engagement to the Statehouse,” said INFB President Randy Kron. “We need to engage with legislators to make sure they understand our story. As you look across the state, agriculture is less than 2 percent of the population. Our members realize that they have to tell their story.”
In response to continuing concerns about county personal property audits that focus on all farming operations, delegates supported an addition to the policy book asking for clear definitions and guidelines for assessment of tangible items on personal property.
Delegates added language that supports annual notification to landowners identifying the utility who owns transmission lines and contact information for the utility. In terms of transportation, the delegates voted to insert language that supports reciprocity between adjacent states to recognize farm plates and fuel permits.
The delegates asked for further research before taking a position on placing tolls on interstates as a source of road funding.
“One thing is clear: Our members believe in Indiana Farm Bureau as a policy organization and one that can help them solve problems,” said INFB director of public policy Katrina Hall.
During the session, delegates also elected four county Farm Bureau presidents who would represent INFB at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation convention. They are John Feutz, Gibson County; Patty Lange-Fischer, Decatur County; Deidra Gottbrath, Washington County and Mark Scarborough, LaPorte County. The convention delegates will consider policy positions for the national organization along with representatives from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Deidra Gottbrath, Washington County Farm Bureau president, said that leading up to the convention she plans to connect with members in her district and throughout the state to ensure that she’s informed about where Indiana stands on the important issues.
“It’s an honor to be able to represent Indiana at the AFBF convention and help speak for Indiana agriculture on the national level,” said Gottbrath.
Gottbrath said one of her main focuses at the convention will be to make sure that INFB remains aware of policy changes. If something doesn’t suit Indiana agriculture, she wants INFB members to be able to discuss the issue and take action to make more effective policy recommendations for Indiana in the future.
Now, the Indiana Farm Bureau board of directors will determine the priority policies for the 2018 state legislative session. The INFB public policy team will work with regional managers, district directors and county Farm Bureau members to hone in on top priorities to set the stage for the organizations efforts at the Statehouse and in Washington, D.C.