Concerns over deer damage, solar farms, energy and electric vehicles were among top topics Tuesday, Nov. 28, during the Delaware Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover.
Breakfast kicked the day off with a presentation from Scott Schuster who coordinates the Farm to School program through the Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy, offering attendees a look at why that program is important in the First State and how they could get involved with the pilot of its expansion program, Farm to Community.
The group of about 100 delegates also heard from:
● Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee who spoke of his current role as the chair of the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council;
● Executive Director of Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility Andrew Slater who spoke of programs available and how the organization can benefit Delaware farmers;
● USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland David Baker who spoke of programming available through the USDA;
● Nationwide Board Member Sparky Weilnau who expressed appreciation for the work of the Delaware Farm Bureau and Nationwide’s partnership with Farm Bureaus;
● Nationwide Sponsor Relations Account Executive Todd Givler who discussed risk and liabilities management; and
● American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Daniel Munch who gave an economic overview of farming in Delaware and nationwide.
Although the annual meeting is open to all Delaware Farm Bureau members who wish to attend, only active regular members can be chosen as voting delegates for this meeting. Regular members consist of farmer members and professionally engaged members.
With the help of parliamentarian Donald Bullock, DEFB President Bill Powers and 1st Vice President Steve Breeding facilitated discussions about resolutions delegates wished to bring to the group after lunch. Passed resolutions are added to the organization’s policy book which helps guide staff and volunteers as they work to advocate for the needs of Delaware farmers.
Jay Baxter of Sussex County was first to the microphone with a proposed resolution requesting the Farm Bureau advocate for farmers to utilize their own carbon credits for emission management. The resolution was passed unanimously with no discussion.
Breeding read the next proposed resolution to the group, revisiting a topic that was previously brought to the group last year while seeking to recognize deer as pests and help farmers with protection and crop damage compensation.
“We heard last year that these animals belong to the state of Delaware. But we also heard that the Department of Wildlife is in charge of managing those deer, so we are seeking compensation from the owners of those deer as they destroyed our livelihood,” Baxter said.
Paul Cartanza, Sr. and Ernest Vogl, both of Kent County, and Andrew Cleaver, of New Castle County, spoke up with concerns regarding how the deer would be managed by his fellow farmers, citing hunting and regulatory concerns.
“They’ve been given the opportunity to manage it and they squandered it. Now it’s our turn to manage our own property,” Baxter added.
The resolution to advocate for deer to be considered pests and provide protection and crop damage compensation for farmers be put in place was passed by the body of delegates.
The next resolution discussed by the group requested an adjustment of truck weights for commodities from the field to farm storage or farm storage to end user, but was tabled by the group after a short discussion.
“Speaking from one of the two farm bureau members that was on the task force that set the weights that we enjoy now, I would recommend that we vote down this resolution and let a sleeping giant lay,” Fred Stites of New Castle County said. “I’m afraid if we went back and opened this up again, we won’t like what comes out of it.”
Delegates also discussed the need to continue power plant operations in Delaware and the promotion of coal and/or natural gas energy as an emergency option for the state.
“We found out at Indian River when generators were shut down, they were demolished. And if these generators are shut down or demolished, we have no back up,” Guy Phillips of Sussex County said.
The resolution was passed by the group after clarifications were made.
The group also unanimously voted for the Farm Bureau to advocate against the electric vehicle mandate, to require bonding for solar installation decommissioning so farmland can be restored after solar farm use, and to pursue opportunities for Delaware agriculture in future state biofuel policies.
For more information on the Delaware Farm Bureau, visit www.defb.org.