WV Farm Bureau Magazine December 2015 - Page 5

Something to Think About Don Michael, WVFB Director of Governmental Affairs Farm Bureau members from across West Virginia gathered for their annual meeting at Flatwoods, November 13-15 at the Days Inn and Suites. The event provided great fellowship through a showcase focusing on educational forums, policy development, insight from lawmakers, member and local organization recognition, competitive events, women’s activities, young farmer leadership development, and the election of leadership for the year ahead. Thanks again to our “STP” (Stability, Trust, Performance) Legislative Insights Panel – Senator Bob Williams (D-Taylor) and Delegates Bill Hartman (D-Randolph), “Woody” Ireland (R-Ritchie) and Amy Summers (R-Taylor). This group of dedicated public servants offered candid insights regarding potential legislation and budget issues impacting the 2016 WV Legislative Session. Sunday’s programming featured the vocal talents of Farm Bureau’s Brenda Snyder, as members and guests had the opportunity to worship with the Dean Family – what a blessing! As the annual meeting concluded Farm Bureau leadership met to finalize legislative priorities for the year ahead. Major priorities include: • Promote strategies/activities to confront the ongoing regulatory challenges posed by an ever aggressive EPA to ensure strength and continued growth in WV’s agricultural economy. • Maintain adequate funding for the predator control program. • Promote reasonable and responsible legislation regulating oil and gas exploration that will protect private property/surface owners’ rights and the environment, while encouraging the development of our resources. Farm Bureau supports the rights of land and mineral owners to negotiate with other parties to achieve the desired use of resources. • Support legislative action to direct necessary financing to Local Education Agencies for facility maintenance, as well as new construction. • Support legislative action to ensure local control on Sunday hunting, with approval only by local option at the ballot box. • Farm Bureau recommends an investigation of individual budget items rather than across-theboard cuts to address budget shortfalls. • Farm Bureau supports reinstating the food tax as a broad-based tax. • Promote action to ensure county assessors adhere to the approved formula for appraising farmland. A complete listing of legislative priorities and Farm Bureau policy will be featured in the January issue of West Virginia Farm Bureau News. President Wilfong, Executive Secretary Butler and I want to thank Delegate Amy Summers for affording us an opportunity to participate in her December 1st Town Hall Meeting in Grafton. The meeting focused on draft legislation addressing the Horizontal Well Unitization and Landowner Protection Act of 2016. The meeting was well attended and included six state lawmakers – Senators Dave Sypolt and Bob Williams, and Delegates “Woody” Ireland, Amy Summers, Patsy Trecost II and Terry Waxman. Thanks again to House Energy Chair Ireland for his tireless efforts with stakeholders and the excellent overview presented at the meeting. Thanks for the Memories – I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Farm Bureau family for giving me the opportunity to serve as your Director of Governmental Affairs for the past nine legislative sessions. As I said last month, it has truly been a treat...and my wife and I have been richly blest! After considerable thought and prayer I have decided it is time to pass the torch to a newcomer. But rest assured I will always be faithful to Farm Bureau and our industry of agriculture. Until our trails cross “under the Dome,” at a Farm Bureau or agricultural event, or perhaps in your neck of the woods – KEEP SMILING FRIENDS, God bless you and your loved ones, and God bless America. MERRY CHRISTMAS! West Virginia Farm Bureau News 5