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Pierce County Farm Bureau members attend agriculturist conference

Pierce County Farm Bureau was represented at the 98th Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting and Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference (from left to right): Tom Benitz, Kevin Knutson, Laura Benitz (holding Kari), Judy Knutson, Leanne Kimball and Peter Kimball. Photos courtesy of the Pierce County Farm Bureau

Nearly 1,100 farmers and agriculturists from across Wisconsin attended the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation's 98th annual meeting and Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference, Dec. 1-4 in Wisconsin Dells. Delegates from Pierce County included Laura Benitz of Maiden Rock, Peter Kimball of River Falls and Kevin Knutson of Beldenville.

Farm Bureau delegates adopted the policies that will guide the legislative agenda for the state's largest general farm organization in 2018. Resolutions were submitted by delegates as part of a grassroots policy development process.

Some items that delegates voted to support included:

• Milk processors giving farms a 60-day notice before any changes to premium structure or required fees and giving a 90-days notice before termination of service.

• Increased trade deals that benefit Wisconsin and U.S. agriculture.

• Managed grazing as an approved method of stream bank management and managed wetland areas.

• In a time of disaster or emergency, any fees, permits or hold times should be waived to aid people with bridges and creek crossings.

• Allowing stream bank damage following a storm to be returned to pre-storm locations.

• Controlling predatory wildlife populations.

• A tax incentive for selling and renting land to beginning/young farmers.

• Mandatory rural traffic safety curriculum in driver's education classes.

Regarding marketing initiatives, delegates opposed using misleading food labels for a marketing campaign. They supported changing fat percentage labelling on bottled milk from "2 percent fat" to "98 percent fat free" and "1 percent fat" to "99 percent fat free," etc. and use of the non-genetically modified organisms label only on products that have a GMO alternative.

Held in conjunction with the WFBF meeting, the annual Young Farmer and Agriculturists Conference provided over 500 young farmers and agriculturists (ages 18-35) from across the state with an opportunity to network with their colleagues and gain information to benefit their farms and families.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from several excellent speakers including Michele Payne who challenged the group to have a conversation about the food they produce with consumers and shared that "we are all in this together."