Iowa Farm Bureau voting delegates set state and national policy direction for 2017

The voting delegates of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest general farm organization, met in West Des Moines this week to develop policy direction on issues important to farmers and all Iowans.  The voting delegate body again is making conservation a top priority to secure funding for soil conservation and water quality improvement.

Members also approved policy to help with the prevention and management of devastating animal disease outbreaks. 

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

Soil conservation and water quality improvement remains a primary focus for the organization looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session.  The delegates reaffirmed their support for prioritizing long-term, dedicated funding within the state budget.  The delegates also concluded that as any new future funding options are being considered by the Iowa legislature, the distribution of funds must focus on implementing the Water Quality Initiative (WQI), and the funds should not be used to fund land acquisition and other expenditures that have little impact on water quality. 

“It is really important that we lead on this issue and bring all Iowans with us,” said Fayette County voting delegate Chad Ingels. 

In light of recent devastating animal disease outbreaks, including avian influenza, which caused a $1.2 billion economic hit and the loss of more than 31 million birds, animal disease management was discussed.  The discussion resulted in policy to support identifying additional tools that farmers can utilize for business interruption as a result of Class A animal diseases.  The delegates also insisted on the need to keep information related to the premise identification confidential and only used for animal disease outbreak.

The delegates also debated policies that impact property taxes.  The discussion reaffirmed Iowa Farm Bureau’s philosophy that property taxes should be utilized for property services, and that property taxpayer protections for landowners should continue.  

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 Phoenix, Arizona, January 6-11, 2017.