NEW ORLEANS — Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th annual convention adopted policies to guide the organization’s work during its centennial year on key topics such as farm bill implementation, cell-cultured food products, trade, rural broadband access and rural mental health programs.

Government Shutdown

Delegates urged the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible. The current shutdown means farmers and ranchers are being delayed in securing loans and crop insurance as well as disaster and trade assistance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of important provisions of the farm bill.

Trade

Delegates voted to favor negotiations to resolve trade disputes, rather than the use of tariffs or withdrawal from agreements. They also voted to support the United States’ entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Cell-based Food

Delegates adopted a comprehensive policy to support innovation in cell-based food products while ensuring a level playing field for traditional protein. Delegates affirmed that the Agriculture Department is best equipped to be the primary regulator of new cell-based products as it encouraged USDA to utilize the Food and Drug Administration’s expertise in food safety. The policy also calls for complete and accurate product labels to ensure that consumers have all the pertinent information they need.

Rural Broadband

Delegates supported improved broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. AFBF will work with the Federal Communications Commission to address map inaccuracies.

Substance Abuse, Mental Health

Delegates supported increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues. Delegates also voted to support funding for the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network, which was included in the 2018 farm bill. AFBF will urge appropriations committees to fund this program, which is critical to address the mental health issues faced by many farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans.

Delegates elected

Delegates elected members to serve as board and committee leaders for the organization.

Stefanie Smallhouse and Todd Fornstrom were elected to two-year terms on the AFBF board of directors, Western Region.

Re-elected to two-year term:

 Western Region: Hans McPherson, Montana

 Northeast Region: Chuck Fry, Maryland; Don Tuller, Connecticut

 Southern Region: Jeff Aiken, Tennessee; Ronnie Anderson, Louisiana; Russell Boening, Texas; Gerald Long, Georgia; Mike McCormick, Mississippi; Rodd Moesel, Oklahoma; and Larry Wooten, North Carolina

 Midwest Region: Richard Felts, Kansas; Richard Guebert, Jr., Illinois; Craig Hill, Iowa and Kevin Paap, Minnesota

 Re-elected to two-year terms on the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee: Sherry Saylor, Arizona (chair); Isabella Chism, Indiana (vice chair); Marieta Hauser, Kansas; Debbi Tanner, Connecticut; Lorenda Overman, North Carolina; Carol Guthrie, Idaho

 Paul Molesky of New York was elected as the new chair of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee for a one-year term, which makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors.

Field editor for the Midwest Messenger.