NEW ORLEANS — Voting delegates at the 100TH annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), including 21 delegates from Illinois addressed Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) priority issues, including submittals on trade, transportation, legal advocacy and Health Savings Account (HSA) reform.

“Our delegates were instrumental in promoting and debating several key policy resolutions to promote and protect the interests of Illinois Farm Bureau members,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., President, IFB.

On Monday morning, President Guebert joined AFBF President Zippy Duvall and other executive committee members in a breakfast with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. A discussion was held with the Secretary that focused on ways to mitigate the effects of the government shutdown on farmers. As a result of that discussion a Sense of the Delegate Body resolution was introduced and approved at the closing of the delegate session. The resolution focused on urging the administration and Congress to work earnestly and cooperatively to reopen the government as soon as possible.

“We wanted to reaffirm our organization’s longstanding trade policy. Delegates approved policy urging trade disputes to be resolved through negotiations – using tariffs or withdrawals from trade agreements as a last resort,” Guebert said.

Delegates approved language to support Health Savings Account (HSA) reform including the following pieces: repeals caps on the annual maximum contribution, eliminates the high deductible health plan mandate from HSA eligibility requirements, allows HSA funds to be used for health insurance premiums and lifts restrictions placed on the use of HSA funds for over-the-counter medicines.

“We were also were successful of the new policy opposing the creation of a federal vehicle mileage tax (VMT) which would tax motorists based upon the number of miles driven, “said Guebert.

Delegates also approved Illinois’ policy submittal pertaining to the safety of farmers. This particular policy addressed efforts to enhance the 8-1-1 internet-based location service to accommodate whole field utility location services, using whole boundaries.

And finally, Illinois delegates called on the AFBF Board of Directors to develop a national legal advocacy strategy that actively addresses legal or regulatory actions taken by governments, groups, or third parties that impact our members’ private property rights and production agriculture.

More than 6,000 people from 50 states and Puerto Rico attended the convention, including 352 farmer and rancher delegates who voted on grassroots policies and policy amendments.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 396,000 and a voting membership of more than 78,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.