Voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) an­nual meeting last week adopted several policies brought forward by Iowa’s delegation, including ensuring meat processors accept timely delivery of cattle, enhancing swine biosecurity measures and making sure crop insurance premiums aren't impacted by specific conservation mandates. 

Also during the business session at AFBF’s 104th annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, delegates voted to modernize the farm bill by expanding baseline funding, developing more flexible disaster relief programs and extending protection to more specialty crops 

In addition, the delegates formalized Farm Bureau positions opposing the 2022 Waters of the U.S. rule and a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule if it requires “Scope 3” emissions reporting from farms.

“I was really proud of our voting delegates. They did a fantastic job,” said Iowa Farm Bureau (IFBF) President Brent Johnson, a Calhoun County farmer. “They all did their homework. They spoke up when they needed to, and their points were relevant.” 

The cattle market policy would require meat packers to take delivery of finished market 

cattle within two weeks after being traded. If delays occur, expenses should be paid by the packer unless otherwise negotiated, delegates said. 

“Timely delivery of market cattle has been an issue for years in the Upper Midwest,” said Brent Lorimor, a southwest Iowa cattle feeder in Fremont County. 

He noted that Midwest cattle feeders are routinely asked to continue feeding cattle for three weeks or more after selling them to a packer, burdening the feeder with additional feed costs as well as risks of cattle injury or death.

“This discrepancy puts the Up­per Midwest feeder at a competitive disadvantage when marketing fat cattle,” Lorimor said. 

Delegates also approved language prohibiting the feeding of pork products to swine, a measure aimed at preventing the spread of African swine fever (ASF). ASF outbreaks in the Dominican Republic have been traced to feeding pork food waste from cruise ships or airlines that wasn’t properly heat-treated to kill the virus. 

Nearly one-half of U.S. states already prohibit feeding food waste to hogs.

“If African swine fever makes it to the United States and starts to spread, it’s going to be a $50 billion impact to the swine industry, 140,000 jobs and years of lost exports,” said Iowa Farm Bureau Vice President Brian Feldpausch, who raises hogs on his Grundy County farm. 

Farm bill policies adopted by the delegate body include Iowa language to enhance risk management and oppose tying crop insurance premiums to implementation of specific conservation practices. 

Delegates also approved new policy to support access to nutrition programs including connecting farms directly with food banks, increasing the number of SNAP-approved food sales outlets and other efforts to make produce available to families living in food deserts.

On trade, delegates added policy calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue working with the Mexican government to drop a proposed ban on imports of biotech corn. The new policy also encourages USDA to urge the Mexican government to accept established science on the safety of U.S. biotech products.

In addition to policy changes, IFBF’s Johnson was elected to a two-year term on the AFBF board of directors.

“One of my priorities as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau was to make sure that Iowa is properly represented on the AFBF board of directors, and I’m really proud and excited to do that for the next couple of years,” he said.

Additionally, Iowa Farm Bureau was recognized during the AFBF convention with Awards of Excellence in all four program areas: Advocacy, Coalitions and Partnerships, Engagement and Outreach, and Leadership and Business Development.

Iowa was represented by nine delegates in the 342-member AFBF voting delegate body. 

In addition to Johnson, Feldpausch and Lorimor, delegates representing IFBF were District 4 Director Sharyl Bruning of Monona County, Darrick Hall of Jones County, Deanna Brennecke of Decatur County, Craig Recker of Dubuque County, Chris Prizler of Iowa County and Brian Borcherding of Franklin County.