Pandemic Influences Policy Discussion

More than 200 delegates at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s virtual 101st Annual Meeting established new policy directives for the organization.

Farm Bureau delegates adopted the policies that will be included in the organization’s policy book in 2021. Resolutions were submitted by delegates as part of a grassroots policy development process.

Changes to the 2021 dairy policy include support for elimination of size and calorie restrictions for milk/dairy products in milk vending machines in schools. There was also support for overhauling the dairy pricing system that would benefit the farmer by aligning farm gate prices with retail and wholesale prices. Delegates reaffirmed existing policy for dairy farmer profitability including research and development for growth management, Grade A dairy farm equipment transitions and opportunities to remedy high plate counts.

Changes were made to WFBF policy regarding meat processing including support for the creation of a meat processing facility tax credit to increase the capacity and availability of local processors and retailers. There was also support for creation of incentive programs to encourage students to pursue careers in meat processing. Delegates supported developing a grant program to help local butcher shops upgrade to federal inspection standards and to also help new start up processing plants including on-farm processing.

On the delegate floor, members supported a state program to provide technical resources, funding assistance and low interest loans for the development of new, or the upgrade of existing local, smaller-scale slaughter plants, meat processing plants and other small, local food processing facilities. They also supported the state adding more meat inspectors to allow for increased local meat packing and slaughter plant capacity.

With the pandemic bringing to light the need for rural internet connectivity, delegates supported additional appropriations and accelerated implementation of expanded high quality cellular, broadband, fiber optic and telecommunications coverage in rural areas to enhance rural education and agribusiness needs. Additionally, delegates voted to support federal policy to provide broadband availability to everyone.

Delegates from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s 61 county Farm Bureaus also supported:

  • Increased availability of natural gas in rural Wisconsin.
  • Requiring individuals and entities digging in road right of ways or easements to notify property owners before digging.
  • Farm to School programs to promote buying local foods and education of food production, nutrition and the environment.
  • Increased education efforts of modern agriculture and food production at the elementary and secondary levels.

On the federal level, delegates supported:

  • Increasing the butter fat content from 80% to 82% for the federal order butter standard.
  • Clarification and standardization of food expiration terms, by the FDA, to reduce needless food waste.

The federal resolutions will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration at its annual convention next month.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. Made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus, it represents farms of all sizes, commodities and management styles.