Montana Farm Bureau Federation President Cyndi Johnson has been earning her frequent flyer miles over the last couple of months as she has been traveling all across the United States representing the organization and Montana Agriculture Industry. Cyndi recently returned from the American Farm Bureau National Convention in Puerto Rico.  She talked to KMON about her trip.

Cyndi: I was really excited that there were 46 people from Montana. So they represented us very well, which is a really strong contingent from a smaller state in the west. Other states around us had eight or ten people but the location had a lot to do with that. I think that the tours were very well received by the people from Montana who got to be exposed to some agriculture in Puerto Rico. They found a lot of their practices and their products pretty interesting compared to what we are able to do here in Montana. As far as the delegate session, I think that went really smoothly. We changed it up a little bit and we didn't focus on reading every single resolution because we'd already been exposed to the proposals for a couple of weeks before we ever got there. So if people had an argument against proposed policy changes or additions, they should have had their argument ready to go. When we were on the delegate floor, I was excited that all of the policies that Montana took that made it through the policy development process in December also made it into the AFBF Policy Book. I think it shows that people are becoming more and more aware of the western issues in agriculture and that is very beneficial for us. One of the interesting policies that came up there, were proposals from Wyoming and Michigan and Nevada regarding environmental, social and social governance and how those standards are being used to dictate how people can do business. And so we created a brand new policy section essentially for ESG and American Farm Bureau's position on that.

Now that these policies have been adopted, what happens with them? Where do they go from there?

Cyndi: They are officially put into the American Farm Bureau policy manual and then it's basically there for the world to see. This is the position that American Farm Bureau has on all of these issues. So when our lobbyists are posed with an issue, if we don't address it in our Montana Policy book, then we rely on the policies in the American Farm Bureau book. So just about anything that we need to deal with should be covered in policy. If it's not, then we take care of that next year.

What's up next for MFBF?

Cyndi: Right now we're in the beginning of the Montana legislative season. And so we have a couple of staff on the hill in Helena, and all of our members are ready to go if they need to come to Helena to testify on any particular issue. Right now in Helena, they're working on water bills and proposals with how to create the water court going forward after all of the adjudications are finished. So we've had a couple of folks, regular members have been in Helena helping our national affairs and state affairs staff testify on those issues. Next we've got fusion. Fusion is a national convention of the women's committee and the young farmer and rancher committees and the new promotion and education committees. So we'll have several people who are attending the fusion conference that will be in Jacksonville, Florida. Immediately after Jacksonville, Florida. There's a board of directors meeting of the American Farm Bureau will be meeting in Arizona, and we'll actually have an opportunity to go visit the border. So that should be a pretty interesting excursion for us to expose all of these presidents across the country with the issues that are impacting Arizona and those southern states and that will happen in early March. So that'll be kind of a fun thing to come back and report on.

Anything else you want to add that I didn't ask you?

Cyndi: I would say, if people are concerned about visiting Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States, they shouldn't be afraid to go there. It is clean. The people who live and work there are amazingly friendly. You felt like you were just among your family when you were there. The culture is definitely Latino, but it's pretty darn fun to be around. And the folks are very welcoming.

To learn more about Cyndi’s trip, visit the Montana Farm Bureau website.

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