INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Farm Bureau member delegates gathered at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 24 to determine the policy positions of the organization for 2020.
The delegate body consisted of 255 farmers and agribusiness professionals from across the state. The members discussed a number of issues including local government structure, hemp production, education, assessments and more.
“Our members worked very hard to craft policy positions for issues that impact agriculture,” said Randy Kron, INFB president. “INFB also has worked hard to streamline our policy process from the county submissions to the work of our resolutions committee, and that was evident in this year’s meeting.”
INFB’s policy creation process begins at the local level. Each year, all counties have the opportunity to make policy suggestions or edits. Then, those suggestions are debated by a resolutions committee before being brought to the full delegate session. The grassroots structure is vital to ensuring that INFB members can voice their opinions.
“It’s important that each member has an opportunity to be heard,” Kron said. “When you look at what’s going on in the agriculture community, our members are facing a number of issues that impact their bottom line from trade barriers and a down farm economy to the weather experienced this spring. Having clear policy positions in place gives our organization direction when we advocate for solutions to these concerns and others.”
In response to the progress the Indiana General Assembly made on the Indiana hemp program last session, delegates supported additions to the policy book that call for research to find other uses for hemp, the right for all farmers to grow hemp and a diversified hemp market to provide growers with a fair and equitable system to sell what they produce.
“Many of our members were able to grow hemp this year under the new license program facilitated by the Office of the Indiana State Chemist,” said Katrina Hall, INFB director of public policy. “As the popularity of this commodity gains steam, our members have put the organization in an even stronger position to advocate for policies that will benefit those who wish to grow hemp in Indiana. In recent years, we’ve seen a surplus of commodities that Indiana typically produces, and hemp may serve as an additional diversification option for our members.”
Delegates adopted language that supports local control in regards to the use and development of renewable energy in Indiana. Other positions supported by delegates included the repurposing of abandoned box-store buildings, rehabilitation programs inside jails, strengthening school safety and efforts to increase teachers’ salaries.
During the session, delegates also voted on members who would represent INFB at the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. The AFBF Convention will be held in Austin, Texas in January. The INFB delegates chosen will discuss policy positions for the national organization with representatives from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Four county Farm Bureau presidents were elected as delegates for the AFBF Convention:
- Aaron Benton, Spencer County
- Virgil Bremer, Rush County
- Linda Croft, Fountain County
- Stephen Williams, Fulton County
Over the next few weeks, the INFB board of directors will determine the priority policies for the 2020 state legislative session. Federal priorities are set at the AFBF level based on input from all state Farm Bureaus. Now, the INFB public policy team will work with regional managers, district directors and county Farm Bureau members to hone in on top priorities to set the stage for the organizations efforts at the Statehouse and in Washington, D.C.
— Indiana Farm Bureau
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