Nicole Rolf, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs for Montana Farm Bureau recently went to Washington D.C. for a conference.

Washington D.C.

Nicole: The end of last week I was in Washington, D.C. with three of our members, Tom DePuydt from Saco, Jillien Streit from Chester and Wes Jensen from Circle, who were there serving on some of American Farm Bureau's issue Advisory committee. Those meetings allow members from all across the country to get together and dig into specific issues that may have slightly different impacts across the country in order to aid in the policy development process and help us create good, solid policy that works for the whole country. The communities, subjects that our folks serve on our federal lands, obviously has very important impacts to the West and Montana, specifically market structures. That's dealing with a wide range of issues, but a lot of marketing and even livestock related topics in there. And then farm policy, which obviously it's a Farm Bill here. So there was a lot to discuss in that meeting as well about how we're going to position ourselves to successfully pass the Farm Bill this this Congress.

Meeting with Elected Officials

Nicole: While we were there, in addition to those important meetings, we also went up to the Hill and met with both of our Senators, had great discussions with them and we also got to go to both of our House offices. So that's a first for us to be visiting when we have two house offices in in Washington, D.C. so that was exciting to be able to touch base with those folks.


Farm Bill Topics

Nicole: We were there at a really timely and opportune time, like I mentioned before, it is a Farm Bill year and things are really ramping up on that subject. We know that the current Farm Bill is set to expire September 30th of this year. So it's going to be a big push and a big lift to get a new Farm Bill passed before the end of this Congress. But as you probably know, Farm Bureau has been working on setting up our priorities and being ready for this process for over a year now. So we were able to share our priority issues with all of our legislators, both our senators and congressmen, and really talk about, all of American Farm Bureau's priorities and then highlight the specific important Montana priority issues for the Farm Bill. So things like maintaining support for Title I, commodity programs, maintaining our support for crop insurance, helping the commodity, the conservation title become a bit more working lands focused. And also, things like maintaining a unified Farm Bill, keeping the farm programs together with the nutrition program. And just a wide range of issues that are important to Montanans and important to farmers all across the country. So it was a great opportunity to do that.


Nicole: We also got to share with them our support for a couple of pieces of legislation that were just introduced the week that we were there. They were both introduced last Congress. So you may be familiar with them, but were reintroduced by Senators Boozman and Representative Lucas. And what they do is, they're called to protect farmers from the SEC. And they basically prohibit the SEC from regulating and requiring farmers and ranchers to report scope three carbon emissions. The SEC put out a rule in back in 2022 regarding how publicly traded companies would have to report their climate related emissions. And fortunately, in that rule, they end up looping in farmers and ranchers and requiring us to do similar reporting. Of course, farms and ranches are not publicly traded companies, so the SEC should not have the authority to do that. And so we commented as such and we appreciate this legislation that will make sure that it’s not allowed in statute.


Montana Legislative Session

Nicole: It looks like there's going to be some pretty filled days going forward. One thing I would highlight is that there were two pieces of legislation on the same subject, that we oppose both of. There were two pieces of right to repair legislation and I really want to take the opportunity to visit about that because it's important to explain why our organization oppose that piece of legislation. You probably know most farmers and ranchers do support the right to repair. It's just about how we go about achieving that goal, and also how we take advantage of the opportunities that we already have to do repair work.

Tractor in a field on a rural Maryland farm at sunset with sun rays

John Deere

Nicole: So as you probably also know, Farm Bureau was very pleased to sign an MOU, a memorandum of understanding with John Deere in January during our annual convention that was signed between American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and the Deere Company. And this was a result of a couple of years of negotiations and work on this very important subject. Our members have been clear in our policy development process that they prefer a private market solution to this issue. They laid out all of the things that they want to see accomplished in such a private agreement, and we were very pleased to have achieved those with our MOU, with Deere. We also have already engaged with the other OEMs and are continuing those negotiations and feel that we will obtain more MOU use with other OEMs in the near future. So I think it's also important to note that these agreements are not just for Farm Bureau members. They apply to everyone and everyone who owns equipment. And it's not just farm equipment. Also turf forestry equipment, construction equipment. So it's a really good agreement for everyone. So we don't feel that these pieces of legislation are needed. The House version even went well beyond what our MOU does and really gets stuck in the weeds. So we just feel that positive progress is already being made in this legislation. It's not necessary. Not to mention that if states start passing a patchwork of state laws on this subject, it's likely going to have some unintended and very unfavorable consequences that will likely be most harmful to farmers. A lot of dealerships and folks did a great job of explaining why this legislation is not is not necessary.

Remote Testimony

Nicole: One good piece of news is if you are hoping to join remotely, which is important in the weather we're having, there is the ability to do that and they have extended the deadline. Now, folks can register up until 10 p.m. the night before the hearing. So take advantage of that. Make sure you email and call your legislators and let them know what's important. Things are going to be moving quickly.

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