Farm scene

WEST DES MOINES — In most years, delegates at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation summer policy conference enjoy a good argument. They debate the issues for hours, disagreeing over grammar and wording.

This year’s session was quiet.

“The mood is disappointed,” explained IFBF President Craig Hill.

There are issues the delegates care deeply about, he added, but there is already policy on the books for most of those issues. The problems, as they see it, are ones of implementation.

The most obvious downers at the moment are poor crop conditions and low prices, neither of which are easily solved through policy debates. The other top concerns regard trade wars and hardship waivers for refineries’ use of ethanol. On both of those issues, there is policy in place and the organization has made its thoughts well known.

Farmers are angry at the Trump administration on the waivers and the trade war with China, Hill said. But they are not sure what to do about those items other than to continue to express their displeasure.

Right now, Hill said, the best things that could happen would be a smooth harvest season, some price improvement and approval by Congress of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“I hate to be a downer,” he said, “but we could use a little bit of good news.”

Very few resolutions were debated and passed at the Sept. 4-5 conference. The delegates did re-emphasize their support for Iowa’s prohibition against foreign ownership of farmland. They also voiced support for providing incentives to encourage private large-animal veterinarians in the state. And they approved language supporting a farm permit for drivers under the age of 16 which would be similar to a school driving permit.

There was also a brief discussion of renewable energy and the siting of items such as wind turbines and solar arrays. The delegates said decisions regarding setbacks for those items should be done on a statewide basis, similar to livestock facilities. That debate may have been spurred by recent county setback requirements passed in Madison County.

And the deer population drew the attention of delegates, as it has many times over the years. Language simply saying the state should pursue a smaller overall deer population was approved.

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.