A centennial for any group or business is nothing to sneeze at, and for Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, it was a time to celebrate when the group held its annual meeting in Laramie.
First order of business was to elect a president, and Todd Fornstrom held his position when elected for a fourth term.
“I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Fornstrom says. “Advocating for agriculture is something Farm Bureau members do every day and I’m honored to be counted in that group.”
4TH TERM: Todd Fornstrom was reelected as president of Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation at the group’s meeting in November. He farms near Pine Bluffs.
Fornstrom and his wife, Laura, have four children, and he works with his family on Fornstrom Farm near Pine Bluffs. The diversified farm includes irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans, and a cattle and sheep feedlot. In addition, the Fornstroms run a trucking business, and Todd Fornstrom is in a partnership and runs Premium Hay Products, an alfalfa pellet mill.
Voting delegates elected Cole Coxbill, of Goshen County, to his fourth term as WFB vice president. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three children. They run a trucking business and a commercial spraying business, and they raise cattle.
Rachel Grant of Converse County was elected to her first term as the director-at-large. Grant is a past president of the Converse County Farm Bureau Federation and a former WFB Young Farmer & Rancher Committee member. She also serves as the state chair of the WFB Natural Environmental and Resources Committee. 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 first term as the state committee chair. This position holds a seat on the WFB board of directors.
Rounding out the WyFB board of directors are district directors Raenell Taylor, Northeast District; Kevin Baars, Southeast District; Tim Pexton, Central District; Thad Dockery, Northwest District; and Justin Ellis, Southwest District.
DISCUSSION MEET WINNER: Laramie County Community College’s Kathi LaPoint (center) won the 2019 Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Collegiate Discussion Meet. She received her awards from the farm bureau’s YF&R Committee members Toni Swartz (left) and Chelsea Baars.
Setting policy for 2020
Key roles for the organization are to advocate for key issues in the state for agriculture, and support national efforts. During the annual meeting, WFB members adopted a number of polices including irrigation infrastructure, taxes, private property rights and migration corridors.
“County Farm Bureau members start the policy development process at the local level,” says Ken Hamilton, WFB executive vice president. “The process continues through the district, state and national levels, as members discuss a wide variety of policy issues that are of concern to them.”
Infrastructure was top of mind at this year’s meeting, in part due to the collapse of the irrigation tunnel in Goshen County that cut off water to more than 100,000 acres of Wyoming land. Infrastructure support became a policy issue.
“Farm Bureau members recognized the importance of managing our water resources and addressing aging irrigation infrastructure through policy, calling for the creation of a funding mechanism to utilize in emergency irrigation infrastructure situations,” Hamilton says.
On taxes and state expenditures, the group spoke out against tax increases, including a policy to oppose any new fuel taxes. The members also expressed concern over Wyoming expenditures on school capital construction. “Our members know education costs and school capital construction costs are a large item, and they feel the state should work diligently to ensure school buildings are only updated or replaced when necessary,” he adds.
Concern about eminent domain use by county, state or federal governments led to policy calling for the limit of this use within the state to protect property rights The group approved policy to amend the state constitution to limit use of eminent domain within the state for state or county government projects.
On the topic of migration corridors, the policy highlighted the need for local involvement in decisions, a risk analysis process to be used, protection of existing economic and planned activities as well as private property rights, and consideration of any funding increases to the state. If there are any state mandates, they must be paid for by the state.
In other issues, members reiterated their concern of the need for a humane slaughter facility for horses in America. “Additional policy specified that U.S. horse meat should be used to feed animals in U.S. zoos and game parks rather than importing horse meat” Hamilton says.
The group also reiterated support for Second Amendment rights, including opposition to red flag laws that would allow law enforcement to take guns from those deemed dangerous to society.
On brand inspection, the group rejected the idea of eliminating brand inspections for crossing county lines, noting that brand inspection provides protection.
Wyoming Farm Bureau
FINALISTS: These are the “Final Four” finalists in the 2019 Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Collegiate Discussion Meet held in Laramie mid-November: Toni Swartz, WFB YF&R Committee (from left); Caden Callaway, Laramie County Community College; Kathi LaPoint, LCCC; Jedidiah Hewlett, University of Wyoming; Kylie Carson, LCCC; and Chelsea Baars, WFB YF&R Committee.
Discussion meet recognition
Laramie County Community College student Kathi LaPoint discussed agriculture issues at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Collegiate Discussion Meet, earning $300 in cash and an expense-paid trip to Louisville, Ky. LaPoint competed Nov. 12 in Laramie. Twelve competitors representing LCCC, Sheridan College and the University of Wyoming entered the competition. The competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting, where discussion and active participation are expected.
LaPoint says she is grateful for the opportunity provided through this competition. “It has allowed me the experience of getting in touch with agriculture on a new level that sheds light on what is affecting farmers and ranchers today. The ability to understand pressing issues in modern agriculture is key to staying informed as I chase my college degree in agriculture business and animal science.
Jedidiah Hewlett, a UW student, was named the runner-up and was awarded a $150 cash prize. Hewlett is a senior majoring in ag business, farm and ranch management. He also serves as chapter president of the UW Collegiate Farm Bureau.
Rounding out the “Final Four” finalists were Kylie Carson and Caden Callaway, both of LCCC. Carson, of Torrington, is a freshman majoring in ag business. Callaway, from northeastern Colorado, is a freshman majoring in ag business.
Contestants are given predetermined topics. They are judged on their knowledge, speaking ability, ability to participate in a committee meeting, and listen to others and air all points of view. All contestants competed in two rounds of competition. The top four advanced to the Final Four round.
The Final Four discussion topic was: “The 21st-century agricultural economy is threatened by labor shortages.”
FUND DRIVE: The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Committee holds an annual Harvest for All fund drive to make a difference for Wyoming families in need. This year’s drive raised the equivalent of 12,413 meals for Wyoming families in need. Converse County rancher Rachel Grant (left) won the raffle of a quilt handmade by Chelsea Baars, a Niobrara County rancher and WFB YF&R Committee member.
Wyoming families facing hunger received a boost mid-November with the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Committee Harvest for All project. The annual fund drive and raffle to benefit the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies raised $3,103.35, which is the equivalent of 12,413 meals for Wyoming families.
During the state annual meeting, held Nov. 13-15 in Laramie, county Farm Bureaus and farmers and ranchers from across the state donated money to help the food bank in its work with hunger-relief programs across Wyoming. A raffle for a handmade 100th anniversary quilt helped raised funds for this project.
Niobrara County Rancher Chelsea Baars is the chair of the subcommittee that oversees the Harvest for All project. “You can't be involved in agriculture without caring for others,” Baars says. “It is the very foundation of why we do what we do. Agriculture isn’t an easy job, and it doesn’t always pay well. However, at the end of the day we are thankful for what we have, and want to share what we can with those less fortunate.”
The WFB Young Farmer & Rancher Committee is in its 17th year of joining with the American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R Committee in what is called a Harvest for All.