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Current NFU News
NFU Says USDA Can Make Any Necessary Changes Necessary to Bring COOL into Compliance with Today’s Mixed WTO Ruling PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Oct. 20, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Oct. 20, 2014)  — National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said that today’s ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) can be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and reminded lawmakers of the strong support by the public and in rural America for the popular labeling law.

“American consumers want to know where their food comes from, and America’s family farmers and ranchers are proud to provide that information,” said Johnson. “Nothing about today’s ruling changes that rudimentary fact.”

This most recent challenge to COOL, filed by Canada and Mexico, challenges the final rule put forward by USDA and comes on the heels of an earlier WTO ruling that found the U.S. has the right to require labeling of meat products, but found fault with how the rule was implemented.

“Under the guidance of USDA, any changes to COOL to ensure full compliance with today’s decision should be able to be made administratively, while maintaining the integrity of COOL labels,” said Johnson.    

A May 2013 public opinion poll found that more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL, and feelings for the labeling law are equally strong in rural America. “We are confident that given that level of support, Congress will reject all heavy-handed attempts to make legislative changes to this important labeling law,” said Johnson.

Since its passage in 2002, COOL has been under constant attack both domestically, by the U.S. meat industry, and internationally. On each and every domestic occasion, the rulings have come down in support of COOL. 

This recent ruling will likely take many months to resolve, since it will undoubtedly be appealed, and the WTO process is slow moving. Just as NFU has played an active role in legally defending this rule in U.S. courts – and has so far won every legal ruling in court – NFU will also work with USDA and U.S. Trade Representative to see that our WTO rights are protected and that we will comply with any final WTO decisions. Now is not the time to change the law. It is the time to see the WTO process through to an ultimate conclusion.

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 President Addresses Role of Family Farming and Cooperatives in Food Security, Food Sovereignty PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 9, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Oct. 9, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today discussed the role of family farming and cooperatives in food security and food sovereignty as part of a panel discussion at the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City, Canada.  

“Family farms and ranches worldwide are the cultural, social, economic and security cornerstones of every nation,” said Johnson. “Forty percent of the world’s households directly depend on family farming, and every person who eats also depends on family farmers.”

The International Summit of Cooperatives, held annually, brought together nearly 200 leading experts and more than 2500 participants from 42 countries to share their knowledge on innovation in sustainability, development, employment, food security, and the economics of cooperatives.

Johnson noted that despite agricultural production in the United States shifting to large farms, trends also indicate an increase in new, yet smaller, farms. “Americans want families to own and operate farms and ranches,” said Johnson. “Consumers want local foods and demand is creating new opportunities.”

Johnson also noted that in the United States, farmers and ranchers have been successfully involved in cooperatives for nearly 100 years. Farmers Union’s own history is closely tied with the cooperative movement, having developed and supported thousands of cooperatives over the decades.

“Cooperatives and agriculture go hand-in-hand,” said Johnson. “Co-ops provide farmers and ranchers with lower-cost inputs, higher income through marketing and processing, financial resources, access to electrical utilities and communications technology, and connections to consumers.”

The five panelists also discussed the idea that family agriculture is the basis for sustainable production to move towards food security. Johnson pointed out the many benefits of food security in the United States.

“Food security has allowed the U.S. economy to expand into technology, manufacturing, entertainment and heavy industry,” said Johnson. “Consumers spend less than 10 percent of their income on food and it also allows the U.S. to have programs to help feed the poor.”

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 Welcomes Additions to Washington D.C. Office PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Oct. 7, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Oct. 7, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) is pleased to welcome five new staff members to positions in the government relations, communications, and education departments, as well as the addition of North Bridge Communications as a media relations consulting firm.

New Hires:

Sarah Campbell, Education Coordinator
Campbell supports the NFU Foundation’s education and development team in initiating growth through a variety of strategies. In addition to developing the annual curriculum, she also assists in planning and preparing youth and adult education programs and events. Campbell studied international policy and economics at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.

Zack Clark, Government Relations Representative
Clark advocates for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities in Congress, particularly on crop insurance, commodities, immigration and tax. He joins NFU from the office of Congressman Joe Courtney, where he served as legislative assistant.  As staff to a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Clark worked on the 2014 Farm Bill, advocating on a range of issues important to family farmers.

Tom Driscoll, Government Relations Representative
Driscoll asserts the interests of family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in energy and environmental policy. He also drafts long-form documents, such as comments on agency rulemaking, on a variety of issues that affect family agriculture. Before joining NFU, Driscoll managed the agriculture news clips service AgToGo, wrote articles for Agri-Pulse, and worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rep. Tim Ryan, and boutique government relations firm Strategies 360.

Andrew Jerome, Communications Coordinator
Jerome serves as the primary media contact, maintains the website and social media platforms, and produces publications such as newsletters, e-newsletters, news clips, and Farmers Share. Jerome is a recent graduate of West Virginia University where he earned a degree in public relations.

Barbara Patterson, Government Relations Representative
Patterson advocates for family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities with a focus on trade, livestock, competition, conservation, nutrition, and food safety. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and recently graduated with a Master of Science in Agriculture and Nutrition Policy from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Patterson previously worked as a policy associate for New England Farmers Union.

North Bridge Communications
NFU has brought on North Bridge Communications to assist with communication operations and proactive media outreach. Leading the team is partner Phillip Hayes and managing director Dave Ray.

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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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Guest Opinion: NFU Urges EPA to Stay the Course on RFS PDF Print E-mail

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Oct. 6, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Oct. 6, 2014) – In a recent op-ed published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stay the course and not scale back the volume targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The op-ed appeared on the heels of a letter to the Obama administration from the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition (GBC), a group representing two-thirds of the nation's governors, pointing out that the EPA's proposed volume cuts in the RFS would hurt jobs and increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“The continued expansion of the biofuels industry is essential for our nation's energy and economic future,” the governors said in the letter. “Through continued expansion of biofuels plants, it will be possible to deliver millions of gallons of clean, renewable fuel, create thousands of jobs, lower imported oil expenditures, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent, compared to gasoline.”

Johnson, also arguing against the EPA’s proposed cuts, compared the RFS to a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, from which a seemingly endless abundance of fruits and other foods pour. “From time to time, legislation that was enacted for one reason has resulted in creating an abundance of benefits in a number of other areas,” said Johnson. “Such is the case with the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

In addition to leading this nation one step closer to energy independence, the RFS bestowed a number of side benefits onto the nation. Johnson pointed to the creation of a new domestic market for corn, the rise in prices for other commodities, as well as other economic and environmental consequences as major benefits of the RFS to not only rural America, but the entire nation.

“A recent Iowa State University study showed ethanol saved consumers an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011,” said Johnson. “Consumers who used to watch their fuel expenditures literally going up in smoke out of their tailpipes could now invest this money in other areas of the economy.

“Biofuels are also much friendlier to the environment,” said Johnson. “A recent study found that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline.

“We have only just begun to see the benefits of the horn of plenty known as the RFS. America needs to stay the course.”

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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IYFF 2014: Farm to School and Cooperative Efforts Bring Together Family Farmers and Local Communities PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Oct. 1, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Oct. 1, 2014) – In celebration of the United Nations’ 2014 International Year of Family Farming, this month National Farmers Union (NFU) is highlighting the importance of family farmers and local communities, as well as some of the tools available to help family farmers increase their economic footprint and clout. A great deal of emphasis is placed this month on cooperatives and farm to school efforts, as October is also both Farm to School Month and Cooperative Month.

“Family farmers are the engines that drive rural America, pumping millions of dollars into local communities as they purchase the inputs they need for their farms,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Johnson noted that as a result, farm output continues to rise, with market values of crops, livestock and agriculture products reaching record highs in 2012. According to the recent Census of Agriculture, 87 percent of U.S. farms are owned by families or individuals, and in 2012, there were 2.1 million farms in the U.S, with an average farm size of 418 acres. But according to that same census, those numbers of farms are falling, down more than four percent from 2007, while the average farm size has continued to grow. 

“Clearly, NFU has a role to play in ensuring that family farmers remain competitive and productive in the ever-changing and increasingly competitive environment they operate in.” Johnson explained that one of the best tools available to family farmers to pool their resources and multiply both their buying and selling powers is through their involvement in farm cooperatives. 

“Farm cooperatives have been a major Farmers Union push for decades, because they provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees who can then go on to contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives and their communities,” Johnson said.

But we must also push to open up new markets for family farmers. With the increased emphasis on eating local and knowing more about the farmer who produced the food you are consuming, consumers are increasingly seeking tools to educate students about the food industry.  

“NFU’s continued support for farmer to consumer outreach, and programs like the National Farm To School Network enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. 

“By cementing the connection between consumers and farmers, we not only allow consumers to have increased confidence about the health of their food supply, but also build potential political allies so that when issues of importance to family farmers arise, consumers are ready to lend their support,” said Johnson.

To support our efforts, we encourage everyone to get involved and join National Farmers Union. Information can be found at www.nfu.org.  

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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