DANVILLE, Ind. — Indiana Farm Bureau delegates met Aug. 24 to decide on the organization’s policy stances for 2020.
Nearly 260 farmers and agribusiness professionals from every county discussed topics ranging from renewable energy to hemp production.
“The session went pretty quickly, which tells me the policy book has been refined, and they are mostly in agreement with what’s there,” said Randy Kron, president of INFB.
“There were a few tweaks. There was some discussion about broadband availability in rural communities.”
Members also discussed renewable energy, which they agreed should be controlled on a local level.
“There was a line added that they need to look for places (for renewable energy) on more marginal ground, when possible,” Kron said. “They need to look at the big picture. What’s there? What else is around (the renewable energy site)?”
Industrial hemp was an important topic at the session.
Delegates supported 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.
“We understand there are going to be rules and guidelines around it,” Kron said. “There was actually some discussion about having an indemnity, kind of like we do for grain. With hemp being new, there could be some problems or growing pains.
“If we’re going to grow it, we have to have processors somewhere. Growing it doesn’t matter without a market. There was quite a bit of discussion around that.”
Katrina Hall, INFB director of public policy, said several farmers were able to grow hemp this year under the new license program facilitated by the Office of the Indiana State Chemist.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
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.
Delegates also voted on members who would represent INFB at the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention next January in Austin, Texas.
Four county Farm Bureau presidents were elected as delegates: Aaron Benton, Spencer County; Virgil Bremer, Rush County; Linda Croft, Fountain County; and Stephen Williams, Fulton County.
Farm Bureau’s policy creation process starts at the county level, where members make suggestions or edits. Those are then debated by a resolutions committee before being brought to the delegate session.
Over the next few weeks, the board of directors will determine the priority policies for the 2020 state legislative session.
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.
“I want to thank our members, because this is an important process,” Kron said. “I appreciate the work our members do. It starts at the county level, and it all comes together at our delegate session. I thank our members for being passionate about this.”