Binghamton, NY – New York Farm Bureau members wrapped up their 63rd State Annual Meeting Wednesday, Dec. 4 in Binghamton, NY where Farm Bureau first began more than a century ago. It concluded with an evening banquet full of awards, state dignitaries and celebration of another successful meeting that set the organization’s public policy agenda for 2020.
This year’s theme, “Growing Stronger Together,” was meant to inspire members to build bridges with their communities, lawmakers and consumers. Different speakers and workshops stressed the importance of relationships and working together as farmers, county Farm Bureaus and agricultural organizations in advocating for rural and farming issues.
“Farm Bureau is a community. It is a network of diverse, yet like-minded people who believe in agriculture. Being social, talking to fellow members, and getting involved can help the big issues not seem so daunting, knowing we are all in this together,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President, during his annual address.
The main focus of State Annual Meeting is the time-honored grassroots process where delegates from 52 county Farm Bureaus across the state discuss and vote on public policy resolutions. Some of the state policy positions added this year include:
• We support the development and funding of a $1.5 million dairy innovation hub at Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS.)
• We support comprehensive policy and program development in order to limit food waste, to ensure that non-saleable, edible foods are donated to those in need, and to inform farmers of the tax incentives and deductions as well as the liability protections in place for use of these programs.
• We support an independent economic analysis of at least three years after enactment of the Farm Labor Fair Labor Practices Act prior to the Farm Labor Wage Board making a recommendation regarding overtime to the Department of Labor and legislature.
• We support making permanent the farm workforce retention tax credit.
• We support the work week for compliance of day of rest and overtime can be any seven consecutive days chosen by the employer.
• We support a $1 million investment in dairy environmental management systems at Cornell CALS.
• We support state funding to create new and enhance existing agriculture education programs to reach the goals established in the “Reinventing Agriculture Education for the Year 2020” report from the National Council for Agricultural Education.
• We strongly support the creation of a statewide campaign to educate the public about agricultural vehicular laws and respect for safe agricultural travel.
NYFB delegates also created a new climate policy section of policy resolutions. Additions to policy include:
• We support sequestering carbon in the soil by such practices as no-till farming and pasturing livestock as a means to combat climate change in New York.
• We support appointing farmers to the Climate Action Council and the Agriculture and Forestry Advisory Panel.
• We support landowners voluntarily adopting soil health programs and best management processes that will prevent soil erosion, prevent nutrient loss to aquatic ecosystems and increase soil health.
• We support financial incentives for farmers to implement soil health programs on their farms.
New national policy resolutions include:
• We support the immediate ratification of the new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal
• We support a positive resolution for the United States with China to end the trade war.
• We support removal of Canadian provincial tariffs on U.S. produced wine, beer and distilled products.
• We support a “Emergency Tariffs Powers Act”, which gives the president the authority to declare an emergency tariff but requires the president in 150 days to seek Congressional approval.
• We support including dairy parlor and animal care employees in the H-2A program.
• Since Food Banks are not geared for highly perishable products, we support the creation of a voucher program through the Milk Donation Program to facilitate the distribution of donated milk through grocery stores and other venues.
• For animal products to receive a “Grown in the USA” label the animal(s) must have been exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States.
• We support continued use of SNAP for seasonal farm markets, farm stands, CSAs and other retail farm markets.
• More than a dozen resolutions were added as well to support a regulatory framework that will assist the growth of industrial hemp production.
At the awards banquet, more than 300 members, state officials and supporters gathered to honor a number of well deserving individuals.* New York Farm Bureau handed out its highest honor, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, to Gary Orbaker, a fruit farmer in Williamson, NY and member of Wayne County Farm Bureau. Orbaker has been integral to membership development of the organization and continues to serve as an active voice for farmers on many of the major agricultural issues of the day.
New York Farm Bureau also recognized the winners of the Young Farmers and Ranchers competitive events. Eileen Jensen, of Branchport, NY and a member of Yates County Farm Bureau, was honored with the Excellence in Agriculture Award. Evan and Elizabeth Schiedel, of Ripley, NY and members of Chautauqua County Farm Bureau, received the Achievement in Agriculture Award. Finally, Adam Miner, of Mannsville, NY and a Jefferson County Farm Bureau member, won the Discussion Meet competition. They will each represent New York Farm Bureau at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention next month in Austin, TX.
In addition, delegates elected district representatives to the State Board of Directors. Those elected are Richard Kimball of Dewittville, NY in District 1, Kim Skellie of Newark, NY in District 3, Dan Palladino of Jamesville, NY in District 5, Tony LaPierre of Chazy, NY in District 7, Darin Hickling of Edmeston, NY in District 9 and Robert Nolan of Patchogue, NY in District 11. Also elected to the board, Darleen Krisher-Meehan of Andover, NY as Promotion and Education Committee Chair and Christina Kohler of Elbridge, NY as the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chair.
Finally, the Farm Bureau Trophy for Membership Excellence went to Jefferson County Farm Bureau.