Keeping Members InformedPosted on Jul 24, 2018
Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) delegate members recently met in Louisville to vote on an American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) policy change passed at the AFBF convention held last January.
During the called meeting, KFB President Mark Haney and First Vice President Eddie Melton took the opportunity to address and update the delegates on a number of state and national issues facing the agriculture industry.
Issues related to trade, immigration, broadband coverage and the Farm Bill were some of the topics included. Haney said having informed members makes the organization stronger in many ways.
“In order to be the most effective advocates we can be, we must fully understand the issues and be willing to speak up when opportunities arise,” he said. “It’s our job at KFB to get that needed information to our members and keep them updated, especially in these times when situations related to the agriculture industry are changing daily.”
Haney opened his remarks by pointing out how the mission of Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) hasn’t changed all that much in the nearly 100 years it has been in existence.
“Our goal now, as it was then, is to safeguard the future of agriculture. In the last 100 years, we have worked through tough issues and there never seems to be a shortage of tough issues,” he said. “We are in the midst of some difficult times in agriculture. We can get through these, but we have to have free and fair trade, we must get a farm bill delivered and delivered on time, and we need to have legislation to address the farm labor issue.”
Haney pointed out that the retaliatory tariffs that have recently been put into place are effecting farm families but for so long one of American agriculture’s biggest export customers, China, has not been a good trading partner and that has to be dealt with.
“This has been a large market for us; low hanging fruit, but we cannot put all our eggs in one basket. We must look for and develop new markets, and we must get NAFTA approved,” he said.
Haney also said the Farm Bill, which is the single most important piece of legislation connected to agriculture, will give farm families some much needed security in this difficult farm economy; all the more reason to get this legislation passed on time.
When addressing immigration and farm labor issues, Haney said it was disappointing to see a couple of recent attempts to pass legislation dealing with this issue fail. But there is another bill being considered in the House. He warned however, that if this current attempt also fails, it could be some time before immigration reform is addressed again.
Melton discussed this year’s General Assembly session successes along with several state priority issues. First he emphasized the significance of being involved in the KFB resolution’s process.
“It’s important for our members to be involved at the local level to discuss policy issues and to move those forward through to our resolutions committee,” he said. “This is your organization and you need to have a say in what goes in our policy book.”
In pointing out some of the legislative accomplishments experienced this year, Melton said many of the KFB priority issues were addressed.
“The 50 percent allocation of the Master Settlement Agreement was left intact, along with funding for the Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost-Share program and adequate funding for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture,” he said.
Melton also said that funds were allocated for Western Kentucky University’s Kentucky Mesonet system, as well as for the Division of Conservation to provide direct aid to local conservation districts, and the Adult Agriculture Program.
“The significance of those allocations is, they were zeroed out in the original budget proposal and destined for the chopping block,” he said. “We worked hard to ensure these items were put back in the final budget, which is a testament to the strength of Farm Bureau when it comes to these situations. Collectively we can achieve great things but we must be persistent in our advocacy, making every effort to protect the most important industry we have and never apologizing for what we do.”
In looking ahead, Melton mentioned several issues of importance including continuing support for the expansion of rural broadband and the support of adequate funds for Kentucky’s infrastructure needs including roads and bridges, as well as broadband.
Haney concluded his remarks by thanking the group for their attendance and reaffirming KFB’s support of its members and all citizens of the Commonwealth.
“We will continue to be here for you and fight for you and all the people of Kentucky when it comes to safeguarding our agricultural and rural way of life,” he said.
Videos of this meeting's key points are available below:
Eddie Melton on Legislative Accomplishments
Eddie Melton on the Importance of Policy
Eddie Melton on Priorities for Next Session