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Dairy Crisis
Current NFU News
NFU Commends USDA for Timely Rollout of Dairy Program PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 28, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson commended USDA on their timely rollout of the dairy Margin Protection Program and for including provisions that will help America’s family farmers with their risk management needs. 

“America’s family-run dairy farms are in great need for these kind of risk management tools to help them manage risk that is beyond their control,” said Johnson. 

The Margin Protection Program, which replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract program, gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best for their operation. The program is voluntary.

“The family farmer provision, included as part of the program, will allow many of this nation’s family-operated dairy farms to breathe a sigh of relief now that they have adequate risk management tools in hand. It is unfortunate that the Congress did not include a dairy stabilization program that would have helped take the volatility out of milk prices.”

USDA also announced the Dairy Product Donation Program (DPDP), which will donate dairy products to low-income people, including food banks, state and local agencies and advocacy organizations to determine the types and quantities of foods to purchase for distribution through its nutrition assistance programs. Johnson called the DPDP smart public policy. “This is a wonderful example of smart public policy since it allows USDA to help stabilize the milk market while also helping those facing food insecurity,” he said.

“USDA has done a wonderful job rolling out its new and updated programs as mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill and they should be commended for that,” he said.

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 Says Department of Justice Seems to Ignore Its Own Anti-Trust Laws PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (August 27, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Department of Justice has approved the Tyson-Hillshire merger:

“Anti-trust laws were put on the books to keep powerful industries – like the meat industry – from being overly consolidated.  Yet nearly every merger request they file is approved by the Department of Justice.  As a result, the meat industry grows more powerful by the day and the family farmer continues to get squeezed. 

“This is because farmers are price takers not price makers, and when the number of buyers is decreased, the sales options left to farmers and ranchers are fewer and fewer and the ability of the buyers to dictate prices to producers continues to increase.  The top four meat packers already control 80 percent of the market and now that number has just gone up.

“Once again, the Department of Justice has turned its back on family farmers.”  

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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Beware Of the Trojan Horse Labeled COOL ‘Reform’ PDF Print E-mail

If you look at nearly every item you own, whether it’s your pants, your shirt, your lawnmower, your car or your favorite hat, it most likely contains a label informing you of the country where it was made.  But what about the things – like meat and fresh vegetables – that we put in our bodies?

In 2008, Congress realized that consumers needed to know where their meat and fresh vegetables were sourced, and passed a labeling law known as Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).  COOL says that muscle cuts of meat, and some fruits and vegetables, must be labeled with the country’s name where it was produced.  Simple and sweet.

Since its passage, COOL has been under full frontal assault both domestically and abroad in an attempt to have the law thrown out in the U.S. courts or by the World Trade Organization.  With the efficacy of those lines of attack in question, COOL opponents are now trotting a Trojan horse around Capitol Hill, and naming it COOL “reform.”  But don’t be fooled by a name, because the “reform” they are offering would actually eviscerate the labeling law of all common sense and utility and leave it meaningless.

Consumers love COOL because they are concerned – and rightfully so – where their food comes from.   According to a May 2013 public opinion poll, more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL.  And farmer and ranchers, who raise this nation’s livestock and fresh vegetables, love COOL as well, because they’re rightfully proud of what they produce.  In essence, they want to have their fingerprint on the product.

So who could possibly be against this popular, common-sense labeling law?   The multinational meat industry has sued USDA and had their case tossed out three times.  But with the deep pockets of the multinational meat barons, the sky is the limit on how may more times they might take a shot at the appeal process.

The crux of their argument is that COOL will force them to segregate animals from different countries before the animals are processed so that the meat products can be labeled accordingly.  This, they say, will be too burdensome and costly for them.  It’s simply not believable that in industry that can come up with the idea of using carbon monoxide packaging to extend the shelf life of its meat products can’t figure out how to segregate cattle.  In North Dakota, we put a fence around them and that works pretty well for us.

On the other front are our chief trade competitors, Canada and Mexico, who, for whatever reason, would rather that American consumers think that the meat they are eating – even when it’s from Canada or Mexico – is actually American made.  If U.S. consumers want to purchase Canadian meat, or Mexican meat, they are free to do so.  But blurring the lines of where those products come from so that consumers think they are eating meat that was made in America is just wrong.   And that’s certainly no justification for having a very popular and common-sense labeling law struck down by the World Trade Organization.

In the name of “reform,” lobbyists representing these industries will be blanketing Congress with a request to “reform” COOL by labeling all fresh meats from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as “Made in North America.”  Seriously?  That’s just about as useful as labeling it “Made in this solar system.”

Next week, hundreds of farmers – all National Farmers Union members coming into town for our annual Fly-In – will descend on Congress to let them know that the “Made in USA” label still means quality and to not succumb to the sales pitch from the Trojan Horse of “Reform.”  American farmers and ranchers raise the best meat and vegetables in the world, and they are proud to have their products labeled accordingly.

Doesn’t it make a lot of sense that if consumers purchase something to eat, they have as much of a right to know where that product came from as if it were something they were going to wear?  We sure think so.

 

Roger Johnson is president of National Farmers Union.

 
NFU Applauds Minnesota Farmers Union television program on Emmy nomination PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release
Aug. 26, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 26, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded the Emmy® award nomination of Farm Fresh Road Trip, a Minnesota Farmers Union sponsored television program, in the Upper Midwest Emmy’s®.

“We applaud Minnesota Farmers Union for their role in producing Farm Fresh Road Trip, a program that will help connect the consumer to the producer while highlighting the local food movement,” says NFU President Roger Johnson. “This is a wonderful way to reach out to the greater public and bring the issue of family farming and benefits of buying local to the forefront.”

Farm Fresh Road Trip is nominated in the category: Lifestyle-Program/Special/Series. It is in competition for the Emmy® with four other programs from Iowa Public Television; WCCO-TV, Minnesota; WQOW-TV, Wisconsin; WHO-TV, Iowa. The final determination as to which program wins the Emmy® is announced on Sept. 13, 2014.

The show demonstrates how respected local farmers working with premier Minnesota chefs can provide wonderful local food meals at both restaurants and at home. It helps connect all of us with the bounty of Minnesota’s harvests and helps make connections with the farmers on the land who grow our food.

The nomination was announced just over one week prior to Minnesota Cooks day at the Minnesota State Fair, a one-day event with similar goals to Farm Fresh Road Trip: to connect households, restaurants and economies with locally produced foods. Johnson, who took part in the Minnesota Cooks’ festivities at the fair on Sunday, noted the importance buying from local producers and educating the public.

“This is a wonderful example of how grass-roots organizations can directly reach consumers and promote a better understanding of farming, farm families and food production in general,” said Johnson.  “MFU has done a wonderful job partnering with public television and getting this quality show produced,” he said.

The Emmy® nomination includes Twin Cities Public Television’s host, crew and leadership, MFU President Doug Peterson, and MFU Minnesota Cooks™ Director, Bruce Miller, as Producing Partners. All the people listed on the nomination are eligible for a Nomination Plaque honoring their work; and should the program be the final recipient, all are also eligible for an Emmy® statue.

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 Urges Administration to Finalize RFS Rule, Support Original RFS Targets PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release
Aug. 26, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 26, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged the Administration to act quickly on finalizing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and reiterated the importance of the RFS goals to family farmers and the rural economies they support.

“Biofuels are a critical component of this nation’s energy portfolio, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil imports while also giving a shot in the arm to family farms and the larger rural economies they support,” said Johnson.

The RFS is our nation’s main policy driver for renewable fuels, and since its creation by Congress has created $184.5 billion in economic impact while supporting 852,056 jobs nationwide.  The biofuels industries – and the farmers who grow the grains they use – are poised for continued growth but need a clear signal that the targets will remain firm.   “The RFS has created a win-win-win scenario for the environment, farmers, jobs and consumers, and deserves the full support of the Administration,” he said.

Johnson said that the mixed messages coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Administration’s support for the RFS targets, combined with the lengthy delays in finalizing the rule, have been a set-back to the biofuels industry and farmers who grow the grains they need.  “These lengthy delays and the mixed messages from EPA have very seriously damaged all advanced biofuels, including the cellulosic ethanol biofuel industry,” said Johnson.

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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