Dec. 6, 2019
Contact: Sean Ellis, (208) 239-4292 or (208) 220-5428
Farm Bureau reaffirms hemp support during 80th annual meeting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COEUR d’ALENE – Gov. Brad Little wished Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members a happy 80th birthday Dec. 3 during the group’s annual meeting.
“Happy 80th,” Little, a farmer and rancher, said during IFBF’s 80th annual meeting. “Farm Bureau has always had a big part in Idaho … I know full well you’re the backbone of rural Idaho.”
The meeting attracts several hundred farmers, ranchers and their families, as well as industry leaders who come to watch as Farm Bureau voting delegates from across the state develop the policy that will guide the organization during the coming year.
IFBF President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley, also praised Farm Bureau members for helping the organization remain strong for 80 years.
“That’s a long time,” he said. “We recognize each and every one of you for helping to make Idaho Farm Bureau the strong organization that we are.”
IFBF is Idaho’s largest general farm organization and represents 14,000 people involved with agriculture.
Little made clear his stance on industrial hemp, which was a major topic of discussion during the House of Delegates meeting, where farmers and ranchers vote on proposed changes to IFBF’s policy book.
The 2018 farm bill, which was passed into law last December, made it legal, for the first time in the United States, for farmers to grow, process and sell industrial hemp, which by federal law can only contain a minimal amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets marijuana users high.
According to experts, it is virtually impossible to get high from industrial hemp.
The farm bill left it up to states to create their own policy on hemp and Idaho is one of only three states in the nation that doesn’t allow hemp production.
Attempts to pass legislation that would legalize hemp production in Idaho are expected during the 2020 Idaho Legislature, which convenes in January.
Little said he has no problem with hemp as long as it’s not used as a means to camouflage marijuana.
“I have no problem with hemp but I do have a huge problem with … marijuana,” he said.
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation policy has supported industrial hemp production for more than two decades.
During their policy development session Dec. 4-5, Idaho Farm Bureau voting delegates confirmed IFBF’s position on industrial hemp.
Carl Montgomery, a Jerome County farmer, pointed out that IFBF has supported hemp production for almost three decades.
The delegates also reaffirmed their support of Idaho Power’s cloud seeding efforts after a motion was made to alter IFBF policy on the issue.
Scott Hancock, a producer from Jefferson County, said cloud seeding efforts in his area have increased snowpack by about 10 percent in recent years. Idaho farmers in the southern part of the state rely on good snowpack to replenish the reservoirs that provide their important irrigation water during the summer months.
“I think cloud seeding is a great benefit to the farmer,” Hancock said.
The delegates also tacked a host of other issues important to those involved in the state’s agricultural industry, including water rights, land use, wolves, open range and grizzly bears.
IFBF Executive Vice President Rick Keller pointed out that the policies that the group’s grassroots members develop are the marching orders that Farm Bureau staff follow throughout the year.
He said IFBF staff are not the decision makers in the organization.
“You develop the policies. You set the direction,” Keller said. “My role as executive vice president and that of the staff is to assist in implementing the policies and decisions that are reached.”
“Your policy book is very, very valuable to legislators,” Sen. Mark Harris, a Republican rancher from Soda Springs, told Farm Bureau members.
Harris, who previously served on IFBF’s board of directors, also said it’s not enough just to develop the policies.
“It is very important that there is follow-up with your policies,” he said. “Stay engaged.”
During the three-day annual meeting, Bob Callahan, a producer from Latah County, was awarded IFBF’s President’s Cup award, which is the group’s highest award and goes to an individual who has committed themselves to the organization.
“Bob’s a workhorse and he is very wise,” Searle said. “When Bob opens his mouth, you better be listening.”
Running unopposed, Searle was voted to serve his third two-year term as IFBF president.
Richard Durrant, an Ada County farmer, was picked to serve as IFBF’s vice president. He won a two-way race between himself and sitting IFBF Vice President Mark Trupp, a producer from Teton.
“I appreciate Mark and his many years of service and I congratulate Richard and look forward to working alongside him,” Searle said.
During the convention, IFBF’s Women’s Leadership Committee presented Women of the Year awards to Ann Moedl of Franklin County, Carol Chamberlain of Custer County, Amie Taber of Gooding-Lincoln County Farm Bureau, Mary Blackstock of Owyhee County and Kathy Riebli of Boundary County.
Moj and Kelsey Broadie were presented with Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s Achiever in Agriculture award, which recognizes young farmers or ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operation and honed their leadership abilities.
Craig and Erica Louder, farmers from Jerome County, were chosen to receive IFBF’s Excellence in Agriculture Award, which spotlights young Farm Bureau members who are agricultural enthusiasts but have not earned a majority of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise in the past three years.
The Achiever and Excellence in Agriculture awards are both part of IFBF’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program, which is open to Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35.
Sydnee Hill, a farmer from Blaine-Camas Farm Bureau, won the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet during IFBF’s annual meeting.
The discussion meet helps producers hone their public speaking and problem-solving skills during a competition that is meant to simulate a committee meeting rather than a debate.