Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention approved resolutions that will provide the organization grassroots authority to ask Congress to finish many measures that remain unsettled at the start of 2015.

“Our delegates are the men and women growing the food and fiber for our nation and much of the rest of the world every day,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “They have made great strides over the last decades in improving their environmental performance, in adopting cutting edge technologies and taking actions to make sure they can pass their farms and ranches on to the next generation.”

According to Stallman, however, these same producers recognize that many of the challenges they face are derived from the federal government’s attempt to overreach in its regulation of land use.

“This is particularly true with respect to improper application of federal water rules,” Stallman said. “Our members also want us to continue our effort to secure a stable and reliable supply of agricultural labor.”

Regarding other policy matters, delegates:

  • Reaffirmed that farmers’ proprietary data remain strictly the property of the farmer or rancher when submitted to third parties for analysis and processing;
  • Agreed that farmers and ranchers must have the right to remove their data permanently from the systems of agricultural technology providers. Members feel especially strongly  about this point given the exponential growth of agricultural data systems and the double-digit productivity gains they have generated in just a few short growing seasons;
  • Opposed state efforts to dictate out-of-state, farm-level production practices;
  • Reaffirmed support for producer-led and -approved checkoff programs;
  • Reaffirmed support for country-of-origin labeling provisions consistent with World Trade Organization rules;
  • Called for a state-led, voluntary pollinator stewardship program to address concerns over recent declines in the populations of honey bees and butterflies;
  • Supported the production, processing, commercialization and use of industrial hemp;
  • Called for an end to the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to require permits for farmers to repair erosion damage on their property;
  • Opposed the current cap on agricultural labor visas under the H2-B program; and
  • Called for common-sense reform in endangered species protection legislation.

A total of 355 voting delegates representing every crop and livestock sector in the United States deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policies approved at the convention will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization throughout 2015.