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LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 98th annual meeting approved resolutions that will provide the organization with authority from its grassroots members to push Congress toward the goal line on issues, like protecting crop insurance in the next farm bill, making the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) more flexible, and revamping the regulatory process that has been unworkable for the past eight years under the Obama administration, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) President Steve Nelson said Jan. 13.

“Securing victories on those issues is critical to our competitiveness as individual farmers and ranchers, and Nebraska agriculture will find more success locally and abroad,” Nelson said.

On the Farm Bill front, delegates reaffirmed their strong support for maintaining and looking at crop insurance products for all commodities, not just for the typical corn and soybean farmers, but for livestock and aquaculture.

“The delegates laid out a set of principles highlighting our very clear support for crop insurance and commodity programs as top priorities,” Jordan Dux, NFBF’s director of National Affairs said. Dux sits on a AFBF Farm Bill Task Force. “Congress will begin to have field hearings on the Farm Bill soon since it expires in 2018.” We probably won’t see big changes, more fine tuning to programs like ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage). But you may see some changes on the dairy side to the MPP (Margin Protection Program) and the new cotton program. Anything we can do to provide producers with risk management tools will be important,” Dux said.

On other issues, AFBF delegates adopted Nebraska’s resolution to support telemedicine as an option for veterinarians to make animal health diagnoses. This, in turn, would allow some flexibility for producers and veterinarians as they work to be in compliance with the new VFD, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. The VFD final rule outlines the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in animal feed that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian) and provides veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes.

“Our Nebraska delegates offered language to change the definition of the vet/client/patient relationship, allowing for the use of telemedicine. For example, if a veterinarian has a good working relationship with a producer it doesn’t require him to come on the farm to physically see the animal before offering a course of treatment. We hope this provides another option for producers and vets who are still trying to wrap their arms around these new requirements” Nelson said.

The delegates also approved a special resolution urging Congress to enact swift, meaningful, and strongly bipartisan regulatory reform. The resolution, comes in the wake of the introduction of bills in Congress that would pare back the rapid growth of oppressive regulation and government overreach by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Delegates called on the federal government to adhere to a series of principles, including:
• the use of sound science;
• consideration of costs and benefits to stakeholders;
• transparency in federal agencies and departments;
• reduction of abuses of the court settlement process;
• limiting deference granted by courts to agencies’ interpretation of law;
• prohibiting agency misuse of social media to lobby the public in support of proposals;
• greater congressional oversight of agencies;
• congressional approval of major rules;
• a minimum comment period for rules; and
• reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act.

Delegates also affirmed their support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the nominee for administrator of the EPA.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.