Delaware Farm Bureau elects Holtz to be next president

Staff Writer

DOVER, Del. (Dec. 9, 2014) — Katherine “Kitty” Holtz was elected president of the Delaware Farm Bureau at the organization’s annual meeting in Dover Dec. 2. Voting was done by secret ballot. Holtz is the first ever female Farm Bureau president in Delaware and the only female state Farm Bureau president in the nation at present
Holtz, whose family farm is in Clayton, had submitted her name as a candidate via a letter to delegates dated Nov. 19. Holtz had been elected as the first woman president of Kent County Farm Bureau in 2012 and previously served as KCFB women’s chairman for eight years and as state women’s chairman for one year.
She addressed the delegates prior to the balloting, saying, “I believe in this organization and what it represents. I care about the direction it is going in and retaining the level of respect it has earned since its beginning.
“That level of integrity is being challenged. ... A sense of obligation is a driving force to promote and protect what you have a passion about.
“For me, that is agriculture in Delaware and Farm Bureau.”
Holtz said later she realizes she is taking on quite a commitment. As in many farm families, her husband and son do the active farming; she does the bookwork and runs errands — “all the things necessary to keep things moving in a timely manner.”
Holtz is a retired state employee, having worked in the Department of Correction and Administration.
Gary Warren, defeated in the election, had served as president of DFB for four years and as president of New Castle County Farm Bureau before that.
Under his leadership, DFB won passage of “FT” legislation, as well as “FV” Tag legislation, and created a non-profit Delaware Farm Bureau Foundation within the DFB, which is able to receive and disperse funds for both giving back to the community and supporting ag education.
Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Ag Lab, provided to DFB, was refurbished and used at Boys & Girls Club Summer Camps in 2014 to promote ag literacy to 1,300 children.
A campaign to obtain a second Ag Lab — this one heated for use in winter — is under way.
In his president’s report, Warren took a few minutes to rebut an article published two days earlier in The (Wilmington) News Journal which addressed controversy over a proposed development rights purchase involving Warren and another farmer in Port Penn.
Warren, without going into a lot of detail, explained, “Ten years ago, I exercised my personal right to sell our farm. The government did not want that to happen and prevented it... My farm is not part of the Delaware Ag Land Preservation program. It is not enrolled.
“I believe my loyalty to Farm Bureau and the state ag community speaks for itself.”
Warren listed issues likely to come up in the next year, including wetlands, nutrient management and endangered species, which are “emotional, controversial and laborious.”
He continued, “Collectively we are stronger than the sum of individual members.” He urged the DFB membership to “band together and listen to the plights of each other.”
Earlier in the meeting, Marty Ross reported on his activities on the Wetlands Advisory Committee.
In regard to the EPA’s Clean Water proposed rule making, he warned, “Land is not water. This is not negotiable. To compromise our individually protected property rights via any agreement that even a little land is water undermines our core beliefs.”
Five resolutions were passed with little discussion.
One was a statement of support for “the promotion of the fundamental principles and family values on which our nation was founded” and the definition of family as “persons related by blood, marriage between males and females, or legal adoption.”
In this and the second resolution, supporting an “individual’s right to free exercise of religion, whether public or private, be it verbal or visual,” even on public lands, it was resolved to support “the legal right and responsibility of parents to direct the religious and moral training of their children.”
A third resolution resolved that DFB work with Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles and similar branches of government in adjacent states to allow legal crossing of state lines with the FV tag. A suggestion to extend the 20-mile radius was not addressed in the resolution.
Jonathan Thompson, first vice president, said, “let’s get the right to cross state lines first.”
DFB voted support for “a system that allows Delaware-based farmers the opportunity to a right of first refusal and/or a rating system and selection criteria that adds extra value in the bidding process” to in-state farmers wishing to lease public land for production agriculture.
Warren explained this resolution was in response to a lot of complains from throughout the state regarding leases being awarded to out-of-state farming operators.
Although there was some opposition, the resolution was carried by voice vote.
The final resolution concerned the Open Space Program, which “continues to aggressively seek out and purchase farms and farmland.”
The resolution noted that the definition of open space in the Land Protection Act does not mention “agricultural lands” and that the purchase of tillable lands (for open space) “adds greatly to the depletion of tillable lands available for future generations to ‘own the farm’ for the production of food, feed, fiber and fuel.”
The resolution, therefore, called for support of a program to “encourage and facilitate purchases of these farms and tillable lands by bona fide farmers (especially young and/or beginning farmers.)”