Wyoming hills and grassland PStieger/iStock/Thinkstock
THINKING WYOMING: The Wyoming Farm Bureau at its 98th meeting re-elected its president and honored members for their service.

Wyoming Farm Bureau wraps up 98th annual meeting

Group re-elects current president, names award winners and makes a food bank donation as part of its annual event.

Members of Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation recently wrapped up the 98th annual meeting for the group. Key at the meeting was the re-election of Todd Fornstrom to his second term as president for the group.

Fornstrom is from Laramie County, Wyo., and he and his wife, Laura, have four children. Fornstrom has served in a variety of roles in the organization, such as vice president, Laramie County Farm Bureau president, member of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Committee, and state chair of the group's general issues committee.

Fornstrom works with his family on the Fornstrom Farms near Pine Bluffs, Wyo. The diversified farm includes irrigated corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans and a cattle and sheep feedlot. The family also runs a trucking business and custom harvest. Fornstrom is also in a partnership with and runs Premium Hay Products, an alfalfa pellet mill.

RE-ELECTED: Todd Fornstrom gets a second term as Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation president.

In a release about his re-election, Fornstrom commented that "the process and the grassroots organization of Farm Bureau are a real interest to me as a farmer. Serving for the second year as president is an honor, and I'll continue to work hard as I represent Wyoming's farmers and ranchers."

Voting delegates elected Cole Coxbill, of Goshen County, Wyo., to his second term as vice president for the state organization. Coxbill and his wife, Sammie, have three kids. The family runs a trucking business and commercial spraying business, and raise cattle.

Bryon Yeik, of Veteran, Wyo., was elected to his second term as director at large. Yeik and his wife, Debb, run a diversified family farm and feedlot in Goshen County, where they raise cattle, corn and alfalfa.

In addition to the three statewide elections, five district directors and the Young Farmer & Rancher state chair serve on the state board.

The Young Farmer & Rancher Committee elected Stacy Berger to her second term as the state committee chair. This position has a seat on the WyFB board of directors. From Albany County, Stacy and her husband Kyle have four kids and work on her family’s ranch.

Rounding out the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation board of directors are district directors: David Garber, Northeast District; Kevin Baars, Southeast District; Tim Pexton, Central District; Thad Dockery, Northwest District; and Justin Ellis, Southwest District.

Distinguished service awards
WyFB honored 2017 recipients of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award. The award honors those who have gone above and beyond their service to agriculture. The 2017 recipients are Carleton Perry, Sheridan County (recognized posthumously); David and Judy Garber, Sheridan County; and Perry Livingston, Crook County.

Perry served as a state legislator, a Farm Bureau leader and a community leader. H was recognized posthumously as he was killed in a tragic accident while working cattle last March at the age of 85. Perry held all offices in the Sheridan County Farm Bureau and also served on the WyFB board of directors as the Northeast District director. He was elected to the Wyoming state Legislature in 1976 and served through 1982, both in the House and Senate for the state.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: David and Judy Garber, of Sheridan County (middle), received the 2017 WyFB Distinguished Service Award from WyFB President Todd Fornstrom (left) and WyFB Vice President Cole Coxbill.

The David and Judy Garber, of Sheridan, are the second recipients and started their involvement in Farm Bureau when asked by Perry. David explained he is a second-generation volunteer and grew up attending Farm Bureau meetings with his father.

David is president of the Sheridan County Farm Bureau and Northeast District director on the WyFB board of directors. Judy serves on committees at the state annual meeting and supports David in his work.

In addition to Farm Bureau leadership the past 34 years, David has served as president of the Big Horn Permittee Association and as chairman of the Lake DeSmet Board. He also serves on the board of the Perkins Foundation.

In a media statement, David Garber noted that "it is important for farmers and ranchers to have an outside influence through participation in organizations. We believe Farm Bureau is the best balance because it is a national voice, very credible and works towards the goals of agriculture."

The third recipient is a third-generation leader in WyFB — Crook County rancher Perry Livingston. He served as WyFB president from 2005-16, and was WyFB vice president for the six years prior.

Livingston served in many leadership roles at the county level, and served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors in 2009-14. During his term as WyFB president, he also chaired the Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. board of directors.

Livingston is a third-generation member of WyFB, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Herbert D. Livingston, who served as president of the organization in the 1960s. Livingston's father, Buddy, served on the WyFB state board and as one of the organization's lobbyists for 25 years.

Setting policy for coming year
During the annual meeting delegates also set policy, a key role for the grassroots organization. Topics included rural telecommunications, taxes, multiple use of federal lands and the Worker Protection Standard.

WyFB Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton explained that the policy development process ensure that the association's work begins at the local level. "Much discussion takes place on each proposed resolution at the county, district and state levels as our members guide the work of our organization," he said. The final policy document guides state and national policy lobbying, too.

Communication is a hot topic in Wyoming, and WyFB weighed in on current discussions about phone service deregulation. Voting delegates passed policy asking for rural phone service to remain fully regulated and that phone companies be required to provide reliable service to rural Wyoming areas.

DISTINGUISHED WORK: Perry Livingston, of Crook County, (middle) received the 2017 WyFB Distinguished Service Award from WyFB President Todd Fornstrom (left) and WyFB Vice President Cole Coxbill.

Private property rights and their protection have long been a key issue for the organization. Protecting those rights is a key policy issue with continued apprehension about government bodies using drones over private property without due notification. This was address with a reaffirmation of existing policy expressing the concern.

"Collection of information on private property without notification is a trespass, and Farm Bureau members have always felt that information is certainly important and valuable to the property owner," Hamilton said.

In Wyoming there's talk of a gross receipts tax proposal, a move WyFB strongly opposes. "Agriculture traditionally has a high cost of production process. Any tax that doesn't take the high cost of production into consideration, like a gross receipts tax, would unfairly burden those businesses," Hamilton said.

Multiple uses of federal lands are important to members, and the organization continues to resist efforts to turn federal lands into single- or limited-use management by putting them in wilderness areas. Policy was adopted opposing the removal of the multiple use mandates for public lands by special designation. The policy also called for areas currently designated as Wilderness Study Areas to be released to multiple use if Congress doesn’t take action by 2020.

The group is also concerned about overregulation with little relationship to the safety or protection of people. That led voting delegates to ask the EPA to revisit its Worker Protection Standard. "Members expressed concern about the over-regulation and asked for the rules to be rewritten to reflect a commonsense approach for worker protection and safety," Hamilton said.

The group is concerned about "process-related" violations that have little to do with safety or protection of people in areas of pesticide use. "It appears to only be an opportunity to fine people rather than work to protect people," Hamilton said. "This is a request to have the EPA redraft the regulations so they actually protect workers or their families while not burdening the landowners with unnecessary paperwork requirements."

You can keep up with WyFB at wyfb.org.

Source: Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation

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