Voting Delegates Adopt 2020 Policy
By Colby Ferguson, Director of Government Relations
Maryland Farm Bureau held it’s 104th annual state convention on December 7-10 in Ocean City. Nearly 200 voting delegates and more than 450 total attended the convention to review, discuss, and vote on state and national policy resolutions.
National Policy Resolutions
Here are some highlights of national policy resolutions that were sent to the American Farm Bureau Federation for policy review and potential discussion at AFBF Convention in January:
Training for Commercial Truck Drivers
Policy: We oppose the federal Department of Transportation requiring professional truck driving schools as the only certified training for new commercial truck drivers. The private in-business training programs that have been approved for many years should be recognized as well.
Rationale: Starting in February 2020, Department of Transportation is going to require all new commercial truck drivers go through professional truck driving schools. Many of these schools train the drivers on automatic transmission vehicles, which is not the type of transmission primarily used in agriculture. This requirement will generate new CDL drivers that aren’t qualified to drive standard transmission trucks.
Federal Milk Marketing Order Reform
Policy: We support federal milk marketing order reform. Specifically, the following initiatives:
- All dairy farmers should have a voice and a vote on changes to milk pricing regulations;
- Improved risk sharing among farmers, cooperatives, and processors to facilitate innovation, as well as grow domestic and foreign demand for dairy production;
- Improved price discovery for milk prices; and
- Simplified pricing and pooling provisions with an emphasis on uniform pooling provisions in the Southeastern Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs).
Rationale: Dairy farmers are struggling, and one of the reasons is that the farmer has lost the ability to dictate how their milk is priced and sold. This milk market reform is an attempt to recapture the ability.
USDA NASS Reporting
Policy: We support an external audit and review of the procedures and methodology used in the acreage and yield projection reports released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service as it relates to field corn and soybeans.
Rationale: Inaccurate reports were made available this summer that affected the futures market and grain farmer’s bottom line.
State Policy Resolutions
Highlights of state policy that were adopted into the 2020 Maryland Farm Bureau Policy book include:
- We oppose the huge cost of the Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education as well as its lack of improvements for ag education.
- We oppose production of synthetically produced ‘meats’ being labeled as meat.
- We support legislation to allow utility cooperatives to apply for grants in order to extend broadband service to underserved rural areas.
- We oppose the title of “Farmers’ Market” for a store that is not truly a Farmers’ Market.
- We support participating in a pesticide stewardship education program with MDA, Extension and other commodity groups for educational outreach geared towards consumers.
- We support initiatives to generate heat & power from timber resources.
- We do not support commercial solar energy facilities being built on prime and productive farmland specifically priority preservation areas.
- We oppose any state food policy by state or local agencies and institutions that limits, impairs, restricts or bans the purchase of agricultural commodities produced in Maryland.
- We support delaying the full implementation of the Phosphorus Management Tool until the science behind the tool is validated.
- We oppose any additional Chesapeake Bay crossing that is not at the location of the current Bay Bridge spans.
- We recommend that MDA classify dissolved air flotation (DAF) from poultry processing plant effluent as a biosolid.
- Sustainable agriculture is not limited to organic or regenerative farming practices.
Maryland Farm Bureau is ready to move into 2020 with a renewed purpose, serving as the unified voice of Maryland agriculture. The 2020 legislative session is expected to be an interesting one with so many changes to leadership. Maryland Farm Bureau will be there to make sure Maryland farmers have a seat at the table. For more information on Maryland Farm Bureau policies, contact Colby Ferguson at email@example.com.