Delegates to the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting policy session this week approved the organization’s national agenda, a month after Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) members adopted their 2021 state policy docket.
Representing Michigan’s interests on the virtual “delegate floor” were MFB President Carl Bednarski; Vice President Andy Hagenow; Paul Pridgeon, Young Farmer representative; Julie Stephenson, Promotion & Education representative; and district directors Leona Daniels, Doug Darling, Mike DeRuiter, Travis Fahley, Ben LaCross, Brigette Leach, and Jennifer Lewis. Serving as alternates were district directors Dave Bahrman, Pat McGuire, Mike Mulders, Jeff Sandborn, and Stephanie Schafer.
More than a dozen amendment recommendations passed on from county Farm Bureau members to Michigan delegates to the AFBF annual meeting were adopted and will appear as new or amended language in the 2021 AFBF policy book. The Michigan delegation also spoke in support of several amendments led by other state Farm Bureaus that align with MFB member’s policy guidance.
State Young Farmer Representative Paul Pridgeon, a first-time national delegate, drew comparisons to Michigan’s policy development process for those who haven’t experienced it.
“AFBF annual convention is very similar to what we do here in Michigan,” Pridgeon said. “There’s a policy development process where we submit amendments … and today was our opportunity to vote on those amendments.”
As the federal government transitions to a new administration and newly elected members of Congress begin their work, Pridgeon touched on the importance of providing a consistent message from the nation’s farmers.
“The message from agriculture is that we have critical needs on a national scale, and we continue to be aligned for this new incoming administration, so they understand our priorities going forward. We hope that every administration — whether Republican or Democrat — values the American farmer and would understand our concerns, and value our policy initiatives, as we continue to try to produce food, fiber and energy for the American citizen.”
Pridgeon said most of the important issues talked about are the issues farmers heard a lot about in 2020.
“Immigration was talked about and increasing the cap for H-2B workers that are allowed to come in under that program,” he said.
“We spent a lot of time talking about pricing … dairy pricing models and the variances that exist with that. We’re also recommending a study committee to look at how cattle are priced.
“Ethanol standards was talked about again and how we continue to promote higher ethanol blends in order to meet higher octane requirements in our automotive industries.”
Michigan also successfully advocated for a recommendation by delegates to recommend the AFBF Board of Directors convene a dairy pricing taskforce to explore simplification of the milk pricing system for the next farm bill, as well as support the establishment of a study committee to examine issues in the meat industry.
Some, but not all, of the successful Michigan-driven amendments included: