The voting delegate body of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest grassroots general farm organization, met in West Des Moines this week to develop the legislative policy direction on issues important to members statewide.  The voting delegates, representing each Iowa county, again is making conservation a priority, seeking to maximize the environmental benefit of conservation programs.  Members also approved policies to protect taxpayers and combat the spread of Palmer amaranth.  

“IFBF’s annual, two-day Summer Policy Conference provides our organization with a clear policy direction for the upcoming year to serve our membership,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “IFBF’s year-round policy development process is truly grassroots with engagement and input from members in each county of the state culminating with the Summer Policy Conference.  This process helps to ensure a strong, unified voice on behalf of our membership to support Iowa agriculture.”   

The delegates affirmed support for conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and will seek to maximize the environmental benefit of the program and also create opportunities for young and beginning farmers.     

Palmer amaranth, an invasive weed which can devastate corn and soybean yields, was a major concern for the delegates. The weed has spread rapidly across Iowa and caused a significant economic impact for Iowa farmers.  The planting of native grasses to promote pollinator habitat has inadvertently brought the noxious weed to the state and has spread from just five Iowa counties in 2016 to as many as 80 today. 

“Palmer amaranth spreads so much faster than any other weed,” said Jason Russell, a voting delegate from Linn County.   “If your neighbor makes a mistake letting Palmer amaranth get established, it becomes your problem as well.  That’s why I feel that better labeling should be required.  Let’s not dance around it; let’s make sure we know what we’re doing.”

The delegates enacted policy for all CRP seed mixes to be certified noxious weed free, to eliminate the possibility of unintentional planting of the weed when establishing pollinator habitat.    

The IFBF Summer Policy Conference is the culmination of a year-round grassroots policy process in each of the 100 county Farm Bureaus across the state.  National policies are subject to debate during American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) policy discussions, which will take place at the AFBF Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, January 5-10, 2018.