MFBF sets policy for upcoming year at convention
More than 170 delegates from across the state gathered in Billings Nov. 9-12 to vote on policy at the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention. The voting delegates were part of the 400 convention attendees who participated in educational workshops, district caucuses and the awards banquet earlier this month. However, the main purpose of the convention is to set policy for the upcoming year. County Farm Bureaus held their annual meetings in September to determine if policy was needed on a variety of issues; those policies were then brought to the MFBF Convention where they were discussed and debated. Not all county policy made is approved.
This year, the majority of policy that passed centered around livestock, especially regarding the Department of Livestock and how the organization can realistically support it. Four new policies addressed the Animal Diagnostic Lab, all supporting other funding for the lab, but opposing brand inspection fees being used.
“The delegate floor discussions indicated our members are concerned about the funding situation within the Department of Livestock, and our policy reflects what our organization can do to help right that ship,” noted MFBF Director of State Affairs Chelcie Cremer. In the livestock category, members opposed implementation of a new Beef Check-Off program and would prefer to improve the current program. This policy will be debated more at the national level when the American Farm Bureau meets in San Diego in January.
A new policy dealing with animal health supports the development of a state-wide team consisting of veterinarians, veterinarian assistants, extension agents and livestock producers to be organized to provide a coordinated response in the event of a disease outbreak or a natural disaster.
In the ‘Water’ category, delegates voted to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. Rule which would greatly expand governmental jurisdiction over water and land. The delegates also formed policy on the adjudication process, noting, “We oppose requiring mandatory water measurement on diversions of any drainage including but not limited to creeks, streams and rivers that are not under a court-ordered decree.”
An entire new section for predators was created. Policy regarding predators was moved from the Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Endangered Species sections to the new predator section. There were additions made to existing policy supporting the addition of grizzly bears and mountain lions to the Livestock Loss Program, as well as support continued classification of a wolf as a species in need of management. Delegates adopted policy to support counties adopting their own predator control policy.
Once voted upon, the policy is then what the Montana Farm Bureau lobbyists use to guide them when working with legislation at the Capitol in Helena during the 2015 Legislative Session.