The meat supply chain, state agency coordination with county entities and pandemic responses by non-elected officials were among the many topics included in policies adopted at the 101st annual meeting of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB), the state’s largest general agriculture organization.
Held Nov. 12-14, in Casper, the meeting is an important step in the grassroots policy development process of Farm Bureau. The need for a competitive enterprise system, individual freedoms and protection of property rights ring through all of the discussions as Farm Bureau members develop policy.
“County Farm Bureau members start the policy development process at the local level,” Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President said. “The process continues through the district, state and national levels as members discuss a wide variety of policy issues that are of concern to the members and their families.”
Farm Bureau members heavily discussed the need to address the disruption in the meat supply chain exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our members want to help facilitate local ranchers’ ability to market their meat products easier,” Hamilton said. “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 is another area of concern with 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 said. “This legislation would focus on packers who process over 125,000 head per year.”
Regarding animal agriculture, Farm Bureau members spoke about the need for long-acting antibiotics to be made available.
“Farmers and ranchers are always concerned about the health and welfare of their animals,” Hamilton said. “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.”
Regarding crop agriculture, members expressed the need for legislation to address legal protections for chemical applicators concerning chemical drift liability.
“The policy calls for the protection of agricultural applicators through the same legal protections provided to others where innocence is presumed until guilt is proven,” Hamilton said.
Farm Bureau has long called for federal agencies to coordinate activities with county entities and county natural resource plans. “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 said.
Several policies were enacted addressing the concern about the actions of non-elected officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This member based open forum policy discussion is the reason we hold our annual meeting each year,” he said. “Our members were overall supportive of having the ability to have an in-person meeting.”
“Farm Bureau members exercised self-discipline and assessed their individual circumstances without the need for governmental guidance,” Hamilton said. “Those who felt they would be affected by an in-person meeting took the appropriate precautions for their individual health and exercised self-discipline by not attending.”
Todd Fornstrom, of Laramie County, was elected to his 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. The diversified farm consists of irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans and a cattle and sheep feedlot. They also run a trucking business, custom harvest and Todd runs 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 kids. They run a trucking business, commercial spraying business and raise cattle.
Rachel Grant, of Converse County, was elected to her second term as the 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 district directors: 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.