OKFB Leaders Pass Resolutions on Water, Wind Energy, EPA and USDAWed, 29 Oct 2014 16:42:45 CDT
The grassroots policy of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau is adapting to the changing political challenges from the local to the national level. Earlier this fall county Farm Bureau Chapters developed resolutions to be sent to the state organization's resolution committee. This year 40 members served in the process in reviewing about 200 resolutions during a two-day meeting October 21-22 in Norman.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan of Jackson County about the resolutions process. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to full interview. Buchanan said the resolution's committee was made of Farm Bureau members and they were challenged to combine and consolidate similar resolutions to be brought and voted on by members during the annual OKFB convention November 14-16 in Tulsa. One major federal issue was the 'Water of the US' (WOTUS) proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. The committee passed a resolution to stop the regulation of farm ditches and other waters that are not navigable. Buchanan said members have voiced their concern with the rule.
"We just reaffirmed our commitment that's the wrong way to go," Buchanan said. "That EPA does not to be regulating that much quality of water, that deep. It's really a land grab is what that is in our opinion. We're adamantly opposed to that."
With the ongoing drought, one reoccurring theme was the importance of federal crop insurance. Buchanan said members expressed their need for the implementation of the Actual Production History (APH) adjustment. Buchanan expressed his support for House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas for including that language in the 2014 Farm Bill.
"We're very supportive of that being implemented, we think it's the right thing to do for the American producer," Buchanan said. "That needs to happen."
The committee also passed a resolution to keep the US Department of Agriculture from administering the beef referendum. If the delegates approve resolutions on national issues those amendments will go onto the national level and will be presented at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in January. Resolutions that are passed will become national policy for the organization.
State level amendments addressed private property rights, wind power development, water and the right to farm. Members support the use of easements for traditional uses like roads, electricity, rural water, but anything beyond those uses they believe is a private property right. Buchanan said if there is a entity out there that needs to use that an easement temporary or permanent, there needs to a contractual agreement between that landowner and that entity.
Farm Bureau members also introduced resolutions supporting the expansion of wind power in the state. The committee voiced support for phasing in ad valorem taxes over a five-year period for wind energy projects. Buchanan said ultimately development should come down to property owners.
"Its the private property right of that land owner to contractually enter into an agreement with a wind company, if they choose to," Buchanan said. "That also means landowners should not interfere with your neighbor's property rights."
Water was also a main topic. Buchanan said the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's policy on water is evolving in looking at developing water so all Oklahomans benefit. The committee passed a resolution to study the most feasible and economic way of moving water and how Oklahomans could benefit from such a system.
The group also voted to make Right to Farm legislation a priority issue during the 2015 Oklahoma legislative session.
The Resolutions Committee will present all of these amendments to members at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting being held November 13-15 in Tulsa. Buchanan said the whole delegate body will have the opportunity to vote on all proposed resolutions. With a wide range of view points this leads into in depth discussion and that's creates an environment for an excellent policy debate.
Buchanan will be the featured guest Saturday morning for the In the Field segment as seen on KWTV, News9 in Oklahoma City- at about 6:40 AM.
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