By Ashley Rice, Kay Shipman
Harvest loomed on the minds of several Illinois Farm Bureau Resolutions Committee members this week, but IFB Vice President Brian Duncan assured the Farm Bureau leaders their discussions and work would have a lasting impact.
“The work we do on the farm matters for this year; the work we’re doing now is important for generations,” said Duncan, chairman of the Resolutions Committee.
The subcommittees’ work covered several “heavy hitter issues” from state income tax to labor and from pesticide processes to NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) in well-thought-out submittals from county Farm Bureaus,” Duncan said. “This will culminate at annual meeting where delegates will approve or disapprove of these submittals.”
IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. reiterated the importance of the issues on the table. “We have a lot of important things here today, including several tough issues to talk about,” stated Guebert. “Topics, such as climate change, will only become more prevalent in the years to come. Other topics, like trade, have been a long, drawn out affair. I encourage each of you to be a part of the conversation.”
State and Local Government
The State and Local Government Subcommittee considered policy resolutions concerning Illinois state income tax policy.
Illinois voters will consider a proposed state constitutional amendment next fall, and the subcommittee discussions focused on IFB tax policy, according to Mercer County Farm Bureau President Michael Zecher, the subcommittee chair.
“We’re trying to stimulate discussion at annual meeting on the delegate floor about what our policy should be,” Zecher said. “We know what will happen if the constitutional amendment passes. We’re trying to get out in front of this issue and think, ‘What could happen?’ We want policy to guide our IFB Board to support or oppose (income tax) legislation.”
The subcommittee felt current IFB policy dealing with the state income tax wasn’t clear and choose to clarify that IFB supports a moderate flat rate state income tax, Zecher explained. That proposal would bring the state income tax policy into consistency with existing IFB policy dealing with local real estate property taxes, sales tax, motor fuel tax and other taxes, he added.
In addition, the subcommittee felt IFB should analyze all state tax proposals and expanded the policy to reflect that all tax proposals should be analyzed and not just state sales taxes, Zecher said.
The committee also chose to move a stand-alone policy on the state income tax into State and Local Finance policy to streamline state tax policy.
Ag Production/National Issues
The Agricultural Production/National Issues Subcommittee discussed county submittals ranging from renewable fuels, equine agriculture, H-2A worker program and crop insurance.
The subcommittee felt the H-2A worker policy proposed by Union County was necessary as IFB has no current H-2A policy.
“The H-2A submittal was quite enlightening,” said Bob Fecht, Marshall-Putnam Farm Bureau president and subcommittee chair. “I don’t know that there are many farmers who deal with that specifically in my area. But it sounds like Union County really has a vast array of different farming purposes and practices that require a lot of hands-on employees.”
Sangamon County submitted a proposal regarding government farm policies and payment limits being set at the entity level.
“Right now, it’s one payment per entity, Fecht told FarmWeek. “We have a new amendment that basically says each actively engaged farmer should be receiving payments from a government program regardless of their businesses’ organizational structure.”
The subcommittee also discussed a proposal concerning USDA NASS survey methodology submitted by Sangamon County.
The subcommittee decided not to include the proposal because USDA already has procedures in place.
“We know that there are specific guidelines for the NASS counters to go out and utilize,” explained Fecht.
The full committee further discussed the issue and shared frustrations with the reports as well as concerns regarding yield calculation methods conducted by farmers and enumerators. The full committee did not alter the subcommittee’s ruling.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee discussed at length a climate change policy proposal submitted by the Conservation Natural Resources Strength with Advisory Team (SWAT).
Effingham County Farm Bureau President Kent Mellendorf, Natural Resources Subcommittee chairman, credited the SWAT members for studying the issue and developing proposals “to expand climate change policy and not penalize farmers.” The proposals include voluntary, incentive-based ideas as well as discussion points.
These include communicating about agricultural efforts to increase climate resiliency, improve water quality and soil health, prevent soil erosion and sequester carbon in soil.
The proposal also supports expanding and improving state and federal conservation programs as well as market-based solutions that allow farmers to voluntarily adopt conservation practices that increase climate resiliency, improve water quality and soil health, sequester more carbon in the soil and prevent soil erosion.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee, and later the Resolutions Committee, had lengthy discussions about proposed policy related to pesticide labels and regulatory authority. Mellendorf explained the subcommittee discussed the need for pesticide labels to cover extenuating conditions “so, hopefully we won’t have inversions and problems.”
The Resolutions Committee also approved a proposal to support federal and state agencies involved in pesticide registration to minimize adverse effects on sensitive crops and sensitive areas.
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.