Voting delegates of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), including 21 from Illinois, addressed several of Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) priority issues during the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville Jan. 5-10.
“Our delegates successfully introduced several submittals on farm policy, the Conservation Reserve Program, seed protection, property rights and environmental and conservation issues,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., president, IFB. “We expect Congress to debate and pass a farm bill in 2018. The policies adopted will better position us for those deliberations.”
Delegates adopted policy language from IFB to provide a floating conservation-oriented commodity loan program that increases loan rates, addresses conservation goals and satisfies the credit needs of beginning farmers. Green said the new AFBF positions also address conservation goals and provide additional credit options for beginning farmers.
“Farmers don’t utilize marketing loans like we previously did because the price levels are too low to be helpful,” said Dennis Green, IFB delegate from Lawrence County. “The floating loan price, based on a 5-year Olympic average, should make it more attractive for farmers as a cash flow tool,” he said.
IFB delegates also successfully advocated to oppose any increase in the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap unless additional acres are tied to continuous sign up practices and to the most environmentally sensitive ground.
Additional polices offered by IFB and adopted by national delegates include allowing farmers to sign up once for the duration of the Farm Bill, assuming there are no changes to the farming operation; requiring seed for program acres be free of invasive species of weed seed, such as Palmer amaranth; and a new policy section on solar energy designed to protect farmers and other landowners.
Delegates also approved a by-law change to increase AFBF dues to $5.00 a member, an increase of $1.00. The change is effective January 1, 2019. The last dues increase took place in 2002. “The additional revenue from a dues increase will provide resources to allow AFBF to maintain its prominence as the leading voice for agriculture” said Guebert, who serves on the AFBF Executive Committee from the Midwest region.
U.S. President Addresses Convention
On Monday, President Donald Trump spoke to a full house of convention attendees. He was the first U. S. President to speak at an AFBF convention in 25 years.
“President Trump’s attending the AFBF convention speaks volumes about how important rural America is to him,” said Guebert. “It was gratifying to hear the president talk about issues that are important to Illinois Farm Bureau – specifically, reducing regulations including WOTUS, investing in our country’s infrastructure, and making broadband more accessible.”
“I was pleased he acknowledged the importance of exports and that he is working to renegotiate a better NAFTA. We plan to hold him to this commitment,” said Guebert.
Call to Action
Many of the 510 IFB members attending participated in a call to action during AFBF President Zippy Duvall’s address. In all, nearly 2,000 members contacted the President and members of Congress to show support for ag exports and the importance of a renegotiated NAFTA.
Recognition for IFB
IFB member Lynn Rohrscheib, Vermilion County, competed in the Young Leader Achievement Award competition and Sean Arians, Woodford County, participated in the Young Leader Excellence in Agriculture Award. Jesse Faber of Livingston County advanced to the final 16 in the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet.
“I’m so proud of the time and effort our IFB Young Leader contestants put into preparing for this event,” Guebert said. “They’re the future of our organization. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the future.”
Illinois had three County Activities of Excellence Awards winners; individual awards for DuPage and Lawrence Counties and an award for Jackson and Union Counties for a joint project.
IFB received Awards of Excellence in all four program areas, including advocacy, engagement and outreach, leadership and business development, and membership value.
More than 7,000 people from 50 states and Puerto Rico attended the convention, including 353 farmer and rancher delegates who voted on grassroots policies and policy amendments.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 396,000 and a voting membership of more than 79,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.