Iowa Farm Bureau’s 2018 Summer Policy Conference

Voting delegates engage in discussion at Iowa Farm Bureau’s 2018 Summer Policy Conference.

WEST DES MOINES — While trade wars, low grain prices and endless rain dominated conversations in the hallways, the talk inside the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s official delegate sessions during the organization’s 2018 summer policy conference were fairly quiet.

“I would characterize it as mixed,” said IFBF President Craig Hill. “(Trade) is on all their minds.”

He said the 2018 legislative session was a good one for the Farm Bureau, and many of the issues bothering members are ones where the organization’s stance is already well-known. It already has language supporting free trade, for example.

As a result, there were relatively few proposed resolutions this year and many of those proposed were passed with virtually no debate. A handful of more controversial ones were voted down after brief debate. Only a couple of items drew a spirited discussion.

One of those that did get members worked up was the idea of labeling as it pertains to laboratory grown meat or almond “milk.”

“This policy here is one that really hits in the dollars,” said Brett Pierce, a farmer from Boone County. “All of us here know what meat is. … This is a very critical issue that is going to impact all of us.”

Hill, speaking after the session, said it is an issue of growing importance to farmers.

“It’s a matter of truth,” he said

The delegates did make one major change in that proposed resolution, from pushing for Iowa to enact state legislation on the issue to stressing that it is a national issue that requires a national solution.

Another topic that drew significant discussion was promoting livestock production in the state. Various forms of a vague pro-livestock or pro-state matrix resolution were proposed and voted on during the two-day session, but at the end of it all, delegates agreed that the organization already had strong pro-livestock language in its policy.

“Believe me, there is no confusion where Farm Bureau stands on this” said Chad Ingels, a farmer from Fayette County who has served on the state Environmental Protection Council and ran for the Republican nomination for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

The delegates also easily voted down a pair of potentially controversial ideas. One was a resolution that proposed allowing landowners who live outside a voting district to vote on bond issues. Another proposed separating the commodity title from the nutrition title of the farm bill.

Resolutions that were approved included one against the idea of toll roads and another in favor of asking the state Department of Transportation to consult with local governments in regard to decisions on possible closure of road overpasses.

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