I think most of the "oddball" things do come up from the local level. Our
members are extremely focused on property and school taxes and attack
anything they see as increasing taxes, hence the stands on welfare, etc..
They think environmental regulations increase their costs, and, as with
most people in this country, they also don't like being told what to do.
( For instance, My stand with them on the Worker Protection Standard is that
it is rinky dink stuff they really ought to be doing anyway, and the only
thing "bad" about it is that they are being told to do it and keep records.)
If someone sees a "coydog" - the local name for a coyote which is any dog
that isn't there or an identifiable neighbors inocent pet, they propose a
bounty on coydogs. Our apple producers have to pay unemployment on
Jamaican pickers who can't collect unemployment, so that generates a
resolution. Similarly, they have to "order" a specified number of
Jamaicans before hand, but also have to take any welfare city folks who
end up not working out and leaving them short of workers, so they want
relief from rules making them advertise in cities, etc. The last couple
of years they have been using more Mexican migrant labor, since they are
already in this country and therefore have preference with immigration.
However, immigration has been making spot raids/inspections during
harvest and haulling off half the Mexicans for illegal status. The
growers cannot check the validity of documents because of
anti-discrimination laws, so they are stuck. In my opinion,
valid issues. When the apples are ready they won't wait on recruitment
and training of workers.
I personnally think our dairy farmers (we are mostly dairy, followed by
apples, then a few direct market vegetables, etc) can much more than cover
their taxes with improvements in feed and machinery management, but taxes
and regulations are a much more popular target. If you look deep enough,
I think most of the oddball things can be traced back to taxes or being told
they have to do something. Most of my farmers hate paying any kind of
taxes, so anything that incurs government spending is fair game in their eyes.
I actually see some parallels with the rabidly anti-pesticide groups. I
think it is a control or choice issue. I can chose to waste money with
feed or machinery or chose to purchase food without pesticides if I can
find it. If I can't tell enough from labeling or don't have any control,
then I don't have the choice and it is objectionable.
Back to state policy development (I don't know about national). The state
collects the policies and puts them together, combines some, etc.
When I have tried to make a local policy a little more coherent, the
regional staff has said it doesn't matter, that they'll "clean it up" at
the state level and they merge policies from the various counties.
Occasionally the regional staff person will make it know that the state
would like to see a certain policy put forward if members agree with it.
Even then the state may be working on an issue because they think it
impacts (maybe in some various nebulous way) taxes or regulations and
since local people have said they don't like either, they are doing their
job. I have seen them rail against a legislative bill that seems to have
no connection to ag on the surface, except if another industry or group
has to do this, then they may make ag do it. I think ourlocal active
members value that kind of work from state staff.
The policies tend to be very negative, and I have tried to turn some
around to what they want, rather than what they are against, just from a
PR stand point for them. That's a hard sell too - I sometimes think they
just want to blow off steam rather than work constructively. They are
also very busy people who don't want to work on it at all, they want the
Farm Bureau to do the work for them.
They are short of volunteers. It is hard to get a quorum at a county
meeting. Either they are out of synch with other farmers (there is a
backlash against some of our more visible Farm Bureau leaders among some
farmers, and many farmers who adamantly refuse to join the Farm Bureau
because of some of their policies) or everyone is just too busy.
I'll probably think of something else after I send this, but this is more
thime than I really have to spend on this topic. It has been lively
though. I wish I had kept a digest (maybe can get one from SANET) just to
show them what is on the Internet that might interest them.
On Tue, 12 Dec
1995, Donald Voth wrote:
> I appreciate both of your comments about the Farm Bureau, Beth and Gib.
> I do have a question, though, for you as sometime members and
> participants. The point was made earlier in this discussion that the
> Farm Bureau annually takes positions on policies that would seem to be
> pretty far out of their area of interest--or expertise. Welfare policy
> is an example. I was surprized a number of years ago, when I studied
> county-by-county resolutions for the state of Arkansas, to find the
> number of things upon which resolutions were "coming up" from the county
> level. I couldn't believe then, and don't believe now, that these just
> automatically "floated up" from the local people. Am I wrong? What do
> you know about your own county FB association and its annual resolution
> process? How does it actually work?
Beth Spaugh CENET: bspaugh
Cornell Cooperative Extension, INTERNET: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clinton County VOICE: 518-561-7450
6064 Route 22 FAX: 518-561-0183
Plattsburgh NY 12901