15 January 2017 - A Unique Farm Federation Convention

During my many years as a farm broadcaster, I have attended many annual conventions of the American Farm Bureau Federation. This past week in the Valley of the Sun in Phoenix, Arizona, I attended a very unusual Farm Bureau Convention because there were far more questions than answers.

A lot of major topics to be discussed, but no conclusions could be reached because we are not quite sure where we will be under the Trump administration as far as agricultural policy is concerned. At this convention, yes, the delegates were hammering out farm policy over the next two or three years, yet again, talking to State Farm Bureau Presidents, not really knowing what (or who) they will be dealing with from the standpoint of USDA staff, Secretary of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture. What kind of department will it be under the Trump administration?

The members talked a about farm policy; they talked about concerns over writing a new Farm Bill for this coming year and maintaining crop insurance as an important part of the program for the financial security of farmers and ranchers. They agreed that the food assistance program, SNAP, should be kept in the farm bill to give farmers more leverage with their city counter-parts when the bill hits the floor of Congress.

They talked a great deal about over-regulation of government agencies, particularly the E.P.A. Immigration? Oh, yes . . . that was discussed as well because Arizona is a border state with Mexico. Farm labor is vital to the lettuce bowl in the Imperial Valley of California and Arizona with 30,000 workers crossing the border every day in the harvest season; so they did talk a lot about immigration.

As the members discussed all of these issues, they did formulate policy without actually knowing who is going to set the policy. As one state Farm Bureau President said . . . “We really don’t know until the Secretary of Agriculture is appointed and how much of a strong voice the new Secretary will have in the Trump administration.”

The only other annual Farm Bureau Convention that was more unusual for me than this one was one I did not attend . . . several years ago the convention in Atlanta was hammered by an ice storm, flights were canceled, including mine, and I never made it to Atlanta. At least this year’s convention in the Valley of the Sun, didn’t have didn’t have an ice problem.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.