Policies which will guide the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation advocacy efforts in 2021 were adopted and finalized by the House of Delegates at the 99th annual meeting on December 7, 2020.
Several new policies were added by the voting delegates representing all types of farming operations across the state. In addition, other existing policies were amended to reflect law or regulatory changes.
Below are some of the more significant policy changes.
- Agriculture Public Relations: Delegates added language to support a strong well-funded, agriculturally based Tennessee State Fair located in a highly populated region accessible to many and focused on celebrating agriculture and economic activities statewide.
FARM PROGRAMS AND COMMODITIES
- Tobacco: A policy statement was added recognizing the requirements of GAP Connections have the potential to be positive for tobacco farmers but should align with government regulations. Also, farmer members should be represented fairly on the GAP Connections board of directors. Crop Protection: The title of the “Ag Chemicals” policy was amended to “Crop Protection.” Likewise, the term “chemical” and similar terms were amended to “crop protection product” as appropriate throughout the resolutions book.
- Renewable Fuels: Delegates added language opposing any effort to ban the use of internal combustion engines.
- Air: A policy statement was added stating American agriculture continues to be a positive influence on the environment. Farm Bureau supports the education of and full inclusion of agriculture producers as the leaders in evidence-based research, development and education regarding the tools and resources related to carbon sequestration measurement, management and implementation in production agriculture. Subsequently, carbon markets in agriculture should be thoroughly studied to ensure the long-term viability of soil carbon offsets. Transitioning production practices and land use decisions to accommodate soil carbon offsets will require farmers to make an enduring commitment. These markets should be financially sound and based on field relevant scientific data. Participation in these markets should be voluntary and an additional income opportunity with no penalties for lack of participation.
- Sustainable Agriculture: “Sustainable Agriculture” was added as a new policy to acknowledge American agriculture’s positive influence on the environment and address how corporate sustainability initiatives influence production practices of all commodities. Farmers need clarity, consistency and incentives to meet these expectations. The new policy encourages Farm Bureau and the UT Institute of Agriculture to engage in these initiatives and provide information to farmers regarding future challenges and opportunities.
Each year Farm Bureau voting delegates discuss, debate and establish a consensus position of the state’s agriculture community. The process starts with farmers at the local level and moves through the counties to regional policy development meetings before ending at the state convention. Twelve regional policy development meetings with farmers across the state helped in the creation of the policy. In October, county Farm Bureau boards and leadership complete an in-depth survey based on topics surfaced in the regional meetings. Results of the questionnaire and the notes from regional policy meetings are compiled and provided to the state Resolutions Committee. The Resolutions Committee is comprised of farmers and is charged with evaluating, preparing and aligning policies within the resolutions book for delegates to consider. The final policy positions are then adopted at the state convention.
Many of the Tennessee Farm Bureau policies will be submitted to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration at their convention which will be held virtually January 10-12, 2021.
We applaud our volunteer leaders for their resiliency and dedication throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.