Illinois Farm Bureau members are gathered in Nashville for the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
NASHVILLE – Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) delegates are among those gathered in Nashville this week for the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
Along with policy discussion, the meeting is an opportunity for recognition. IFB received the President’s Award in all five eligible areas and a Horizon Award for work on Illinois Farm Families campaign.
“Four years ago we pushed the need, when we were in the whole food, feed, fuel, fiber debate, saying we had to reconnect back to the consumer,” said Philip Nelson, IFB president. “I remember chairing that first meeting where there were some heated opinions about how we go forward, but I think the good news is this isn’t just an Illinois Farm Bureau award. It’s an Illinois agriculture award, because we have all the commodity groups working and pulling together.”
Out of that effort has grown the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, which Nelson said is not as far along, but that group is using much of the research done in Illinois and replicating it at the national level.
Nelson is also proud of building relationships across the country during the nearly 10 years he has led the state organization.
“I’ve taken the board to a half dozen states outside of our region,” said Nelson. “I think when you get on their turf, you better appreciate and understand their agriculture, which helps us on the delegate floor and also helps us forge relationships when we get into farm bill debate, regulatory issues, you name it. We’re all pulling together for one common cause and that’s to better this industry.”
Nelson’s final term as IFB president ends in December, when his successor will be elected during the IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Priorities for the delegate session in Nashville include river issues and the farm bill.
“We’d like to stay the course of what we put together for this last farm bill discussion this last year to kind of serve as the template going forward,” said Nelson, who will push for a new farm bill this calendar year.
“I’d like to have a five-year farm bill signed, or at least debated in conference committee by the time we get to August recess so we don’t have an expiration take place in September and we don’t see the hysteria going back to the 1949 Act,” said Nelson. “Having said all that, we’re going to give it our best shot to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to get this thing done.”
Illinois delegate are also prepared to discuss regulatory issues, including the sale of raw milk. Risk management is another priority as crop insurance is the safety net IFB supports for the coming farm bill.
“As I told Sen. Durbin this last week, had we not had a strong crop insurance program, we’d have a different attitude out there amongst farmers who suffered catastrophic losses on the corn side, especially, across our state,” said Nelson.
About 5,000 people are gathered in Nashville for the annual meeting, which concludes Jan. 16.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at email@example.com.
Rita Frazer with the RFD Radio Network contributed to this report.