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NYFB State Annual Meeting Elections and Policy Making

Albany, NY – New York Farm Bureau delegates unanimously re-elected David Fisher, a dairy farmer from Madrid, NY, to his third two-year term as president of the state’s largest farm organization. Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Old Chatham, NY was also re-elected vice-president.

The delegates voted Tuesday, December 8 during a virtual business session of the 64th State Annual Meeting. More than 100 delegates representing 52 county Farm Bureau organizations across the state came together online to not only cast their ballots in the election but also to establish public policy positions for the coming year. This is part of the strong grassroots process where farmer members create, discuss, and determine the policy positions that New York Farm Bureau advocates for at the state and federal levels.

“New York agriculture has faced unique challenges this past year, and New York Farm Bureau has led the way in advocating for our members for the betterment of the state’s agricultural and food systems. I am grateful that members have put their trust in me for another two years. We will work hard together to create opportunities for our farm families,” said President Fisher, who also serves on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors.

In addition, delegates re-elected district representatives to the State Board of Directors.  Those elected to a two-year term are Patrick McCormick of Java Center, NY in District 2, Lin Davidson of Lansing, NY in District 4, Adam Miner of Mannsville, NY in District 6, Dean Casey of Schaghticoke, NY in District 8, and Chris Kelder of Accord, NY in District 10. Also elected to the board for another one-year term, 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.

NYFB also recognized two awards during the virtual State Annual Meeting. Martha Hilton of Ontario County received the NYFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. Contestants are judged on their involvement in agriculture and understanding of current agricultural issues, their Farm Bureau experience, other leadership experience, awards, and recognition, future goals and a presentation of their application.  Hilton is Vice President of Produce and Floral for Wegmans Food Markets and she and her husband Ryan have their own swine operation. She will represent NYFB when she competes in the American Farm Bureau Federation virtual Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture contest in January. 

NYFB’s winner of the Outstanding Promotion and Education Project for 2020 went to Niagara County Farm Bureau for its “Hemp 101 Educational/Informational Event”.  The goal was to provide education and information about hemp to anyone who was interested and serve as a Farm Bureau membership drive. This award recognizes a county Farm Bureau’s effort, program creativity and achievement and the members’ and organization’s dedication that goes above and beyond the average. The county Farm Bureau received a check for $200 plus an excellence pin for each of the program committee members.

Madison County Farm Bureau received a certificate of recognition for its “COVID Care Packages for Madison County Farmers” project which provided face coverings, sanitizers, notes of thanks and gift cards from local businesses to their farmers.

Some of the delegate approved public policy positions added this year include:

General:

  • Due to the impact of COVID-19, we recommend that for agricultural assessment eligibility for farms of less than seven acres, annual gross sales requirements should be reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 for a trial of two years and then to be
    re-examined.
  • We support New York State securing high speed internet for all rural areas
  • We support state agencies providing guidance on regulations before they take effect.
  • State agriculture lending and granting priorities should include those inheriting family farms as well as particular groups such as, but not limited to, veterans, young farmers and members of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community.

Farm Beverages:

  • We support wineries, craft beverage producers and on- and off-premises license holders having the ability to do curbside pickup, allowing consumers to buy the products in advance and have them delivered directly to their vehicle.
  • Initiating the hops breeding program at the Geneva testing station needs to be a funding priority.  New York has fallen behind leading states in hops research, putting at risk continued interest in the farm brewery license.

Maple:

·         We support expansion of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets definition of tree syrups, beyond maple, so as to include syrups made with sap from other species of trees.

 Energy

  • We support prioritizing placing solar on non-agricultural lands, such as brownfields and previously disturbed industrial sites.
  • We support the collaboration of farm organization leaders, solar developers, and solar development associations to develop a “Best Management Solar Siting Practices Guide” for large-scale solar projects greater than 10 acres and/or 25 Mega Watts, on agricultural lands. 
  • We oppose a moratorium on new natural gas services.

Climate:

  • We support the allocation of existing and proposed climate funding mechanisms to assist farmers and forest landowners to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on their farms and forests and to implement mitigation and adaptation practices on their properties.
  • 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 and forest health.

Education:

  • We support public-private partnerships establishing a promotion, scholarship cost-share program with New York State schools enticing schools to use the career and technical centers.
  • We support the creation and maintenance of meat cutting education or certificate programs at various educational levels and institutions to increase the labor pool for meat processors and on-farm processing knowledge.

Hemp:

  • We oppose the high application and license fees that the New York State Department of Health requires in the Hemp Extract regulation.
  • We oppose the restrictions placed on hemp farmers that limit the sale of their hemp biomass/flower to processors, distributors and/or retailers. 

National Issues:

  • We support an increase in funding for the local farm-to-school program and other farm-to- institution procurement programs.
  • We support USDA doing a complete economic analysis on the 2018 Farm Bill Class I milk price calculation to determine how to improve the formula.
  • We support the development of a protocol plan to ensure better stability of farm commodities and infrastructure in times of national emergencies to prevent income loss and to enable the reliable distribution of food.
  • We support incentivizing the creation of small to medium USDA inspected slaughter facilities in more locations across the United States.
  • USDA should work together with AFBF and state Farm Bureaus to develop a crisis management plan for natural disasters, animal disease outbreaks, pandemics, and other catastrophic events so that the food supply chain can be safely maintained from producers to consumers. 
  • We support increased funding for these USDA programs in particular, NRCS Agricultural conservation easements and FSA Direct Farm Ownership loans, with specific attention to easing access for farm families and those inheriting family farms as well as to increasing the racial diversity of farmland ownership.
  • We support that technical and monetary assistance should be given to farmers to help facilitate online SNAP sales and streamline the requirements to be able to collect SNAP benefits. 

 The organization’s state legislative priorities will be released in January.