By unanimous vote, delegates to the 95th annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention reelected Texan Bob Stallman to another two-year term as president of the organization. Stallman has served in that role since 2000.
In other business, the delegates spent most of the day debating and voting on resolutions put forth by the AFBF Resolutions Committee. The resolutions committee formally adopted the resolutions in December. However, they do not become official policy of AFBF until finally adopted with any necessary amendments by the voting delegates. Many resolutions were not changed from 2013. However, some did generate considerable discussion and a few new resolutions were adopted.
Not surprisingly, there was much discussion on some of the current hot button topics such as immigration. The resolution approved at the 2013 convention was virtually rewritten and a number of amendments were put forth this year.
There was quite a bit of discussion on the section dealing with ag workers to work for other farmers. The original wording was: "We support amending the H-2A agricultural worker program to work for other farmers as long as a minimum of 51 percent of the originating contract terms are completed and the transfer is approved by the original contracting employer."
A Kentucky delegate moved to eliminate the 51% requirement, saying that would be difficult for row crop farmers in his area of the country. A Michigan delegate pointed out that the requirement is needed in his area where there is a lot of fruit and vegetable harvest and they need the flexibility to move workers from place to place.
After much discussion, an amendment was passed amending the H2-A program to allow workers to work for other farmers as long as a transfer is approved by the original contracting employer.
Sale of raw milk has been a hot topic for quite some time and was a hot topic during the delegate meeting. The resolutions committee suggested deleting the statement that FB supports "only pasteurized milk and milk products being sold or distributed in the United States for human consumption" and changing the statement to: "States should have authority to regulate raw milk sales."
An amendment was offered to keep the original statement. This amendment generated a lot of discussion. A 33-year-old dairyman from Illinois stated it should be a state issue. However, another 33-year-old dairyman from South Carolina suggested Farm Bureau should keep the original language as it is a food safety issue.
"We should be promoting pasteurization," he noted. The amendment to keep the original statement passed.
Then another amendment was brought forth to delete the line all together. Again, more discussion. A delegate pointed out it is divisive in FB to have two sides to this issue and the group needs to be united. The amendment failed and the original wording stays.
Another topic in the news lately has been unmanned aircraft systems, so the delegates also had to decide where AFBF stands on that issue. After a vote, AFBF supports the used of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes (i.e. agriculture, forestry, and other natural resource use); and they support requiring the operator of the UAS to gain the consent of the landowner and or operator if the UAS will be surveying or gathering data about the landowner's property below navigable air space.
AFBF also supports the regulation of UAS as recreational aircraft. But AFBF does not want to see a federal agency using UAS for the purpose of regulatory enforcement and litigation. Nor does AFBF want UAS gathering data without the consent of the landowner and or operator below navigable air space and they do not want FAA regulations of UAS as fixed wing aircraft.
In another new policy, AFBF supports propriety data collected from farming and agricultural operations is valuable and should remain property of the farmer and warrants protection. AFBF opposes any federal agency Freedom of Information Act-eligible entity from serving as a data clearing house for all proprietary data or aggregated data collected by private companies.
Recommendation to the board
The AFBF Resolutions Committee also offered a recommendation to the board: "We encourage our elected representatives to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as "Obama Care." The delegates approved this recommendation.