Opinion by Ken HamiltonWritten by Ken Hamilton
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President
Anyone who belongs to an organization knows that the time commitment to actively participate and build the organization and agriculture is significant. As always the folks who attend these meetings take the time to renew old acquaintances and update themselves on agricultural problems around the state. The first question that is usually asked deals with the weather and, this year, the drought.
Everyone in agriculture recognizes the importance that weather plays in our lives and perhaps secretly hopes that the weather was worse where they live than where the other ag producer lived, if for no other reason than to feel good that they had it rougher than anyone else but were still standing. Of course in Wyoming, everyone, at one time or another, has had worse weather than his neighbor. That’s just the nature of our climate. Last year’s flood will transform itself into this year’s drought.
The issues that concern folks can be just as variable. This year there were policies dealing with drought related impacts of wildlife on irrigated lands, the beef checkoff and of course the perennial over-reach of regulators into producers lives.
The national financial problems lead to a discussion and adoption of a policy asking Wyoming legislators to adopt a gold and silver alternative to the U.S. dollar in case of a default. The new school lunch requirements resulted in renewed calls for local control of our schools.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation held a symposium on private property rights with comments from Alan Romero, with the UW School of Law, Olen Snider with Summit Title and Stacia Berry from Hageman and Brighton. One of the topics that was discussed was the property owners “right to exclude” as an important part of the bundle of sticks in the property rights bundle. This information supported a resolution asking for strengthened trespass laws for landowners.
Another almost perennial topic of discussion was strengthening Wyoming landowner protection from eminent domain, as well as some protection for adjacent landowners on damages from entities that have easements but no agreement with non-easement landowners.
Anyone who has made a recent trip to the Wyoming Department of Transportation will appreciate the Wyoming Farm Bureau members call to repeal the federal Real I.D. Law that requires multiple documents in order to obtain or renew a drivers license. Concern about possible bison relocation efforts in Wyoming lead to the Wyoming Farm Bureau members adopting a policy that bison be considered a “fence in” species and not be designated a wild free roaming species.
Farm Bureau members, in carrying forward their concern over too much regulation, adopted a policy that would support the ability for consumers to purchase food products under less regulations. There were also expressions of concern over the recommendations that came out of the United Nations Agenda 21 project. Like most members the concern over more regulations, even if on a local level, drew a lot of criticism from ag folks.
As always perhaps the most important business that gets done at these meetings is the conversations among fellow producers. In the age of social networks and email, people still like to have an opportunity to just sit and visit.