Until a few years ago, Indiana Farm Bureau delegates from each county discussed policy and passed resolutions talking a stand on behalf of Indiana's largest farm group at the annual meeting, typically held in early December. To allow more time for policy discussion and development separate from the convention, that meeti9ng of delegates was moved to late August or early September. When the delegates meet now in December during the annual convention, it's typically to elect officers and take care of other matters. However, policy matters ate not discussed.
Indiana Farm Bureau broke with that tradition during this year's state convention. The delegates meet for the sole purpose of discussing policy related to the Farm Bill. The idea was to make Indiana's position clear so that Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, could go to discussions at the national level held by the American Farm Bureau Federation and know that he had the backing of his membership.
The debate had shifted since the delegates met late last summer, Villwock says. That's why he was glad to see delegates be updated on the current situation, and take a stand on current issues.
AFBF currently intends to back keeping federal crop insurance pretty much as it is, Villwock explains. Some of the southern states, not helped nearly as much by crop insurance, and knowing direct payments will likely be eliminated, were pushing what's called a 'shallow crop insurance add- on that would help farmers recover nearly all of any loss they might have, considerably more than what's recovered through federal crop insurance programs backed by the government and sold by local, independent agents today.
Indiana went on record standing with AFBF, and not backing the shallow add-on proposal coming from certain wings of AFBF. Villwock says it will be important for AFBF to work out this issue and go to Washing ton with a untie front as the Farm Bill debate unfolds.With only a small minority in farming, it cuts deeply when Congressmen and Senators hear opposing views form different groups, all supposedly representing agriculture, Villwock notes. It dilutes the message of what is already a minority. He hopes that can be avoided, and instead, agriculture can speak and support one message, with hopes of having a positive impact on the farm bill debate from the farmer's point of view.