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NFU Foundation Awards Scholarships PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 11, 2014

Contact: David Thews, 202-554-1600
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 11, 2014) – The National Farmers Union Foundation (NFUF) recently announced its scholarship recipients for 2014.

Four Stanley Moore $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Wes Krug, Hampshire, Ill.; Mitchell Donkers, Faribault, Minn.; Kelsey Kasella, Royalton, Minn., and Lexie Weber, New Rockford, N.D. The program was set in the memory of Stanley Moore for his life-long dedication to Farmers Union. He served as the NFU vice president and as chairman of the NFU Insurance Companies.

Two $1,000 Hubert and JoAnn Seymour scholarships were awarded to Miranda Johnson, Simla, Colo., and Madeline Schultz, Faribault, Minn.This scholarship is named in honor of lifetime Illinois Farmers Union member and national rural activist Hubert K. Seymour and his wife JoAnn, and has been given annually to outstanding high school seniors since 1995.

“These young adults were selected from among many outstanding applicants from across the country,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Education plays a significant role in Farmers Union and I’m delighted to see all the applicants are so actively involved in their schools and communities.”  

NFU Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2015 award year. Information on qualifications and the applications can be found here.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.
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NFU Calls Ability to Deliver Grain Shipments by Rail at Harvest ‘Substantially Inadequate’ PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2014

Contact: David Thews, 202-554-1600
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NFU Calls Ability to Deliver Grain Shipments by Rail at Harvest
‘Substantially Inadequate’
Warns Surface Transportation Board Farmers May Be Forced to Dump Grain 

WASHINGTON (August 6, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson warned the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that BNSF Railway (BNSF) and Canadian Pacific (CP)’s ability to deliver grain and ethanol at harvest are “substantially inadequate” and are resulting in farmers piling grain on the ground because of lack of transportation options.

“We are especially concerned regarding wheat, since harvest has already started and grain remains in the bin from last year’s harvest,” noted Johnson in a letter today to the STB chairman and vice chairman.  “While BNSF claims that the total number of late shipments of wheat has declined nationwide, 95.42 percent of all past due cars are concentrated in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. BNSF has promised to improve their performance, but we are still subject to delays and Average Train Speed at year-long lows,” the letter notes.

“Grain shipments in North Dakota are critical,” said Johnson.   BNSF reported in its latest weekly update that there have been 2,399 delayed rail cars with an average delay of 23.6 days. CP reported 22,457 open requests with an average of 11.71 weeks.   The letter cites anecdotal evidence from four different grain elevators indicating that their oldest orders are from early March and shuttle orders are up to 2,000 cars behind. “These numbers are staggering and simply unacceptable,” he said.

Johnson notes that in South Dakota, NFU members are hearing about significant delays directly from local grain elevators across the state. At one particular elevator that handles 15 million bushels of grain per year, 3 million of those bushels will not move before this year’s harvest.  “Due to the backlog, farmers are now dumping wheat on the ground because the elevators will not take on the increased liability,” he said.

Johnson also voiced his concern about the ethanol industry, which relies heavily on rail for transportation.  “While the June 20 decision rightfully addressed grain shipments, we encourage STB to consider shipments of ethanol as a priority as well,” he said.  “Failure to bring ethanol to market will hurt consumers because of higher gasoline prices, and will work against our efforts to offset imports of foreign oil.”

A full copy of the letter is here.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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The Hill Guest Opinion: NFU Says Consumers Have a Right To Know Where Their Food Comes From PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 5, 2014

Contact: David Thews, 202-554-1600
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WASHINGTON (August 5, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson continued the fight for America’s consumers, ranchers and farmers in a guest column in today’s The Hill explaining why multinational meat packers and foreign trade competitors need to let common sense prevail and support America’s Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law.

“Nobody seemed to care where their pet treats came from until dogs started dropping dead from eating tainted food from China,” notes Johnson.   “When it was all over, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had received 5,600 complaints from consumers about their pets getting sick and, sadly, about 1,000 of them perished.”  

Johnson points out that, thankfully, Congress understood that consumers have a right to know where their pet food, and their own food, comes from, and in 2008 passed a law known as COOL. “In short, COOL says that muscle cuts of meat, and some fruits and vegetables, must be labeled with the country’s name where it was produced.”

COOL doesn’t restrict imports; it simply gives grocery shoppers information to make purchasing decisions that are right for their families.  “If a family prefers Vietnamese catfish or Mexican meatloaf, there will be available options.  If not, the family can choose locally grown U.S. alternatives,” he notes.

A May 2013 public opinion poll showed more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL.  Johnson notes just last week “consumer advocates prevailed when the District Court of Appeals handed multinational meat packers a stinging defeat.  By a 9 to 2 majority, the panel upheld an earlier court ruling to deny a request to halt enforcement of the law.”

Foreign countries and their big business partners are also pushing international courts at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene.  “The same WTO that helped facilitate lopsided trade deals and outsource U.S. manufacturing jobs will soon rule on what information U.S. grocery shoppers can receive,” he notes.

“Simultaneously, powerful lobbying groups are bankrolling efforts to ‘reform’ COOL in Congress, and by reform, they mean gut it.  Instead of ‘Born, Raised and Harvested in the U.S.,’ they’re pushing for ‘Made in North America’ labels so consumers can’t differentiate between products of Mexico, Canada or the United States.”

“What’s next?” he asks. “Made on Earth labels?”

“America has the safest, best homegrown food supply in the world.  Let’s be proud, not ashamed, of that accomplishment,” he concludes.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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Huffington Post: NFU Takes on Multinational Meat Merger PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2014

Contact: David Thews, 202-554-1600
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WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) – NFU President Roger Johnson today took his argument directly to consumers in a Huffington Post op-ed explaining why the proposed merger between Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands Co. will hurt consumers, farmers and ranchers alike.

“We are told time and again by multinational companies proposing mergers that consumers will benefit from better prices,” Johnson wrote.  “But we’ve seen how well that concept works in the real world, as anyone who has flown lately, or purchased prescription medication, or felt the sting of “Too Big to Fail” banking, or dealt with a cable company can attest.”  

Johnson explains the Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently considering a massive marriage between the largest meat company in the nation, Tyson Foods, and the 11th largest meat company, Hillshire Brands Co.   “The scale and scope of this merger will substantially reduce competition in the meat sector, which is already very concentrated,” he explained.   “In fact, just four companies slaughter and process nearly 81 percent of the cattle nationally, and in the pork sector, the top four firms control 65 percent of hog sales.” 

Johnson points out that for grocery shoppers, the proposed Tyson-Hillshire merger means Big Meat will now have even more control over prices.   “Over the decades, we’ve heard the same tired propaganda: That consolidation helps everyone,” he concluded.  “But a century of broken promises and a little common sense tells us differently.  Mergers help the big get bigger and leave the small guys helpless to their whims.  The DOJ needs to say no to this latest power grab.”

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Denial of Injunction Against Country of Origin Labeling PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2014

Contact: David Thews, 202-554-1600
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WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement after receiving news of the District Court of Appeals’ en banc decision on a challenge to enforcement of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) by the multinational meatpackers and our foreign competitors.  By a 9-2 majority, the panel upheld an earlier 3-judge panel decision to deny an appeal to halt the enforcement of the popular labeling law, passed in 2008.

 “NFU, and our broad coalition of consumer and producer organizations, have achieved yet another victory in our long battle to uphold the enforcement of the COOL regulation as modified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA).   This marks the third time that COOL has won in court. There is no need for this case to proceed. 

“The Court ruled that the government may require factual, uncontroversial information to be included on a label. American consumers want to know basic information about where their meat comes from, and livestock producers across this great nation are very proud of what they produce and happy to let consumers know where their meat comes from.  USDA’s new COOL rules will significantly improve the information available to consumers by reducing confusion about the origins of meat products.  It will also provide U.S. livestock producers the opportunity to differentiate their products, which they are proud to claim as theirs.”

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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