Postscript to the NJFB Convention

17 Dec 2013, Posted by admin in executive director

Farm Bureau leaders, members and staff went through another successful convention process last month at the Westin Hotel in Princeton. This came through clearly in the replies to the post-convention evaluation forms we send to the delegates.

Highlights? I have a few … the most memorable was the banquet speech by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. He’s a class act all the way, and is making great strides for the better at DEP compared to past administrations. Right at the start of his remarks, he told the story about when he first took office. He decided that every one of the DEP’s 2,800 employees should go out and receive “customer service” training. Without prompting, the Farm Bureau banquet audience of 160 heard that and broke into applause. When he finished, the governor’s chief environmental adviser received a standing round of applause – an old fashioned custom of politeness for farm people that I am sure was not lost on the commissioner or fellow cabinet member Doug Fisher.

For me, the convention is the most significant date on the calendar for the year by far. It is a challenge every year to organize the discussion items, invite guests and featured speakers, conduct official business, and otherwise stand ready for whatever may develop. It’s the closest thing in organized agriculture to a shareholders meeting … that blends agriculture business concerns with public sector policy. Better yet, the process has been going on for nearly a hundred years in every state in the nation. We never tire of it.

Policy-wise, we had a few issues whose votes needed to be tallied by hand. One was about whether to assign a dollar value on animal waste processed into commercial fertilizers; the other was amended language on bio-engineered food encouraging the FDA to issue some universal “guidance” language. Each of these failed by just one vote. I was also impressed by the presentation made by Tony Broccoli of the Rutgers Climate Change Alliance about the status of climate change adaptation strategies for New Jersey. From the nature of the questions he received and by the comments on the evaluation forms, the Farm Bureau delegates were quite interested in what he said.

Look for some pictures and more details about the NJFB convention in our quarterly UPDATE publication. It will be distributed at the first of next month.