Crop insurance protection and tools for sharing knowledge of the new veterinary feed directive for antibiotic use in livestock lead policy discussion

 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) voting delegates successfully worked to secure several important IFBF state policies that will guide national policy this week at the 98th AFBF Annual Convention in Phoenix.

Iowa members emphasized the importance of a strong crop insurance program in the new farm bill and new provisions to enhance the new Veterinary Feed Directive or VFD, a new program designed to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics in livestock.  The new provision calls for AFBF to work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture to promote education about the antibiotic limits and how farmers can use new tools, such as telemedicine, to access that information if their access to livestock veterinarians is limited in their area. 

AFBF policy discussions also included conservation programs and protection for livestock farmers hit by catastrophic disease outbreaks, like the avian influenza outbreak that devastated the Iowa poultry industry in 2015.    

“The AFBF priorities mesh very well with the issues that have been stressed by our members in our policy development process,” said Craig Hill, IFBF president.  “Our Iowa delegates said, loud and clear, that crop insurance was the most important risk management tool for farmers and that it should be protected.”

One conservation issue that was discussed during the voting delegate session was the link between conservation compliance and crop insurance. Linking conservation requirements to crop insurance helps maintain the integrity in the program, encourages conservation and is a key tool for building alliances with environmental groups as the farm bill negotiations begin this year.

“Iowa farmers have worked hard to take on the challenge of improving water quality and reduce soil erosion, so we didn’t want to give up any of the tools we have to accomplish that,” said Hill. 

Additional policy approved by delegates during the policy-setting conference included provisions calling for regulatory reform, improvement in immigration programs, and the protection of data gathered by farmers. 

AFBF policies are developed by Iowa voting delegates and Farm Bureau delegates from the 49 other states to secure united grassroots lobbying strength in the 2017 legislative session.  The number of delegates awarded to each state is based on the state’s membership total.    

In addition to advocating for policy that will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau and several of its members received recognition and took home awards during the AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show.  

For the fourth year in a row, the Iowa Farm Bureau received the coveted Pinnacle Award, the top honor of national achievement presented to a state Farm Bureau in its membership group that demonstrated outstanding achievements in six program areas: Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications.  

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by AFBF with the prestigious Pinnacle Award for the fourth year in a row,” said Hill.  “The award is a testament to the strength of Iowa’s grassroots policy process, our membership, and the successful programs developed by our state staff.”

Shamus Brown, a Warren County Farm Bureau member, represented Iowa in the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Discussion Meet.  Brown earned his way into the national competition after finishing first in the Young Farmer Discussion Meet during the IFBF Annual Meeting in December.

Ian and Val Plagge, Franklin County Farm Bureau members, competed in the YF&R Young Farmer Achievement competition and earned a top-10 finish competing against other farm couples from around the country.  The Plagges were recognized with the Young Farmer Achievement Award during the IFBF Annual Meeting. 

Additionally, Peter and Lydia Whitman, Farm Bureau members from Clinton County, represented Iowa on the National YF&R Committee during the Annual Convention.  During the meeting, Lydia was elected to serve on the National YF&R Discussion Meet subcommittee.