When a state Farm Bureau group meets to set policy, all topics are on the table — and that was true for Wyoming recently. The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation gathered in mid-November to set policy and elect officers.
Topics covered in the policy sessions ranged from the meat supply chain to state agency coordination with county entities and pandemic responses by nonelected officials.
This was the 101st annual gathering of the group. And according to the organization, the need for a competitive enterprise system, individual freedoms and protection of property rights rings through all the discussions as members develop policy.
Ken Hamilton, WyFB executive vice president, explains that county Farm Bureau members start the policy development process at the local level. “The process continues through the district, state and national levels, as members discuss a wide variety of policy issues that are of concern to members and their families.”
A hot topic in this year's discussions was the need to address the disruption in the meat supply chain exacerbated by the pandemic. Adds Hamilton: “Our members want to help facilitate local ranchers’ ability to market their meat products easier. The resolutions that became policy would work to build resiliency into the supply chain by enabling more local and regional processing of meat products.”
Price discovery was another key topic for the meat supply chain. “Members passed policy supporting legislation that would require packers to purchase a minimum percentage of their weekly cattle volume on the open, or spot, market through negotiated cash trade,” Hamilton says, adding that the legislation would focus on packers that process more than 125,000 head per year.
More key ag topics
For animal agriculture, Farm Bureau members spoke about the need for long-acting antibiotics. Hamilton says the organization wants to see federal agencies work to increase the availability of long-acting antibiotics. "They are urging action by federal agencies to increase the availability of long-acting antibiotics as an essential medication to care for animals should they become sick.”
For crop production, members expressed the need for legislation to address legal protections for chemical applicators regarding drift liability. The policy outline calls for protections provided to others where innocence is presumed until guilt is proven.
Another issue in the state regards improved coordination between state and county officials. “Policy was adopted to expand that request to state agencies asking that they also coordinate their actions with county entities and county natural resource plans,” Hamilton says.
Several policies were enacted addressing the concern about the actions of nonelected officials responding to the pandemic. “This member-based, open-forum policy discussion is the reason we hold our annual meeting each year,” he says. “Our members were overall supportive of having the ability to have an in-person meeting.”
Hamilton added that members exercised self-discipline and assessed their individual circumstances “without the need for governmental guidance.”
Leaders elected for new year
Todd Fornstrom of Laramie County was elected to a fifth term as WyFB president. He and his wife, Laura, have four children. Fornstrom works with his family on the Fornstrom Farm near Pine Bluffs. His diversified farm raises irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans and he runs a cattle and sheep feedlot. Fornstrom also run a trucking business; custom harvest operation; and Premium Hay Products, an alfalfa pellet mill.
Voting delegates elected Cole Coxbill of Goshen County to his fifth term as WyFB vice president. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three children. They run trucking and commercial spraying businesses and raise cattle.
Rachel Grant of Converse County was elected to her second term as director-at-large. She and her husband, Will, have four children and ranch in southern Converse County.
The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Niobrara County rancher Chelsea Baars to her second term as the state committee chair. This position has a seat on the WyFB board of directors.
Rounding out the WyFB board of directors are Raenell Taylor, Northeast District director; Kevin Baars, Southeast District director; Tim Pexton, Central District director; Thad Dockery, Northwest District director; and Justin Ellis, Southwest District director.
Learn more about the organization and its work at wyfb.org.