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NFU: Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act Will Cripple Rural America’s Economy, Set Back Energy Independence by a Decade PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 26, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said that the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act would cripple rural America’s economy and be an enormous step backwards for America’s goal of energy independence by a decade or more.

“The elimination of corn-based ethanol as an option to fulfill the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will reverse the enormous economic prosperity we’ve seen in rural America since the passage of the RFS and will severely hamstring this nation’s goal of energy independence,” said Johnson.

Johnson pointed out that corn-based ethanol has been used to fulfill the lion’s share of the RFS because it is among the most efficient renewable transportation fuels to produce. It has not only helped reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil but also generates a very valuable by-product – Dried Distiller’s Grains – that has proven invaluable as animal feed. “Not only will this bill hurt family farmers and ranchers and the rural economies they support, but it will also increase carbon emissions and petroleum use, neither of which is good for the nation or the environment,” said Johnson.

Some of the nation’s largest food companies and meat processors have argued that the rise in corn prices since passage of the RFS has forced them to raise food prices for consumers. “Corn prices rose sharply in 2012 due to the worst drought the nation has seen since the Dust Bowl days and high energy prices,” said Johnson. “Since then, corn prices have dropped precipitously yet food prices have remained elevated and so have the profit margins of those companies,” he said.

“The adoption of the RFS and the critical role played by corn-based ethanol in fulfilling it has brought a level of prosperity and hope that rural Americans have not seen in generations,” said Johnson. “Family farmers and ranchers support the RFS because it’s not only good for our communities, but keeps our nation on a steady path to energy independence,” he added.

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 Voices Strong Opposition to Fast Track, Says Trade Deals Should Be Transparent PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Feb. 25, 2015)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Feb. 25, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged members of Congress to oppose trade promotion authority – also known as fast track – noting that trade agreements should be fair to all parties involved, and the process should be transparent. 

“Trade promotion authority (“fast track”) would remove an important constitutional check on the president’s power to negotiate trade agreements,” noted Johnson in a letter sent to all members of Congress today. “Trade agreements must be fair for all parties involved and should therefore be subjected to review by the Congress – not conducted secretly.”

Johnson reminded members of Congress that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was negotiated behind closed doors with little input from the public or Congress. “Congress should have full opportunity to review the provisions of a trade agreement, consistent with the authority and power endowed by the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “The lack of transparency in negotiating TPP is particularly egregious, considering its expansive scope.”

Johnson pointed out that past trade agreements have served to increase, not decrease, the trade deficit. “For 30 years and after several  free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, the U.S. has grown a significant trade deficit,” he said.

Last year, the trade deficit increased to $505 billion, representing nearly 3 percent of GDP and slowing growth, Johnson noted. He said that while the positive trade balance of U.S. agriculture trade is good news, “it is massively overshadowed by the alarming overall U.S. trade deficit.”

Johnson pointed out that a major factor impacting the trade deficit is currency manipulation. “Several countries involved in the TPP negotiations are known currency manipulators including Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan,” he said. “According to recent reports, the U.S.-Japan trade deficit reached nearly $80 billion in 2013, and currency manipulation was the most significant cause of the deficit.”

“The Economic Policy Institute estimates that this trade deficit with Japan resulted in 896,600 jobs eliminated in the U.S, in nearly every congressional district. Future trade agreements, including TPP, should directly address currency manipulation and include binding consequences for those that continue to manipulate currency,” he said.

Read the letter in its entirety 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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2015 NFU College Conference on Cooperatives a Success PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 24, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 24, 2015) – More than 150 attendees from 25 states and Puerto Rico participated in the 2015 National Farmers Union (NFU) College Conference on Cooperatives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the weekend. The participants learned how cooperative businesses are adapting to changing environments and heard from cooperative experts from across the nation on why member-owned businesses are thriving in industries ranging from senior housing to healthcare.

“This is an opportunity for the cooperative community to teach young people about cooperative business principles and to show them that there are great careers in these dynamic, ethical and community-minded businesses,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. 

To bring cooperative education to life, students toured housing, retail, and marketing cooperatives in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They also visited the headquarters of CHS Inc., the nation’s largest agricultural cooperative, and the Mill City Museum, built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill. Students heard from cooperative leaders, farmers and government experts who explained current challenges they face.

Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives to representatives of housing and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as REI and natural foods co-ops. These professionals offered insights on cooperative development here and abroad. 

“Farmers Union remains true to its roots of both being an advocate for cooperative businesses and offering education programs,” said Johnson. “Our own history is very closely tied with the cooperative movement. Cooperatives were made possible by legislative activity and organized by farmers and ranchers to strengthen the economic opportunities in rural and urban communities. Farmers Union has a strong commitment to providing cooperative education not only to our own members, but also to the general public, and especially to young people, many of whom are just learning about the cooperative way of doing business.”

The conference was organized by National Farmers Union and sponsored by the CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farmers Union Industries Foundation, NFU Foundation, The Cooperative Foundation, CHS Inc., Minnesota Cooperative Education Foundation, Federated Youth Foundation and Organic Valley.    

To learn more, visit www.nfu.org/education or facebook.com/NFU.Education

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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Coalition Representing Nearly 400 Organizations Urges Congress to Reject Calls for Additional Budget Cuts to 2014 Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 24, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) and a coalition of nearly 400 organizations representing family farmers and ranchers, agribusiness, food banks, environmental and faith-based organizations urged U.S. Senate and House leaders to reject all calls for additional cuts to the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The 2014 Farm Bill required over three years of debate in both chambers of Congress and ultimately ended with the consolidation of over 100 programs and cuts to mandatory spending across many titles, including the elimination of the direct payment program,” noted the letter, sent to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate and House Budget Committees. “These cuts came in addition to those already in effect due to sequestration.”

The letter noted that the bipartisan Farm Bill was estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years, when including sequestration. “These difficult cuts were made across the farm safety net, conservation programs, and nutrition programs,” noted the letter, which was sent late yesterday.

The signators underscored their united opposition to re-opening any title of the Farm Bill during the consideration of the 2016 Budget Resolution and urged both chambers to refrain from including reconciliation instructions to the respective committees with oversight duties for the Farm Bill.

“The 2014 Farm Bill was a great victory for America’s family farmers and ranchers, because it provided them with much-needed stability and also a huge win for taxpayers who will realize real savings from the budget cuts made by the legislation,” noted NFU President Roger Johnson. “The Farm Bill has been debated and passed, and should be left alone.”

A copy of the letter is available 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 Supports GHG and Climate Change Considerations in NEPA Reviews PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 23, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Feb. 23, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today submitted comments today highlighting why the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) efforts to mitigate and learn more about climate change are important to America’s family farmers and ranchers. 

“Family farmers and ranchers across the U.S. are already feeling the impact of increasing weather volatility,” noted Johnson in the comments submitted to the CEQ on the Revised Draft Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews. “A compilation of the economic impact of extreme events with an economic impact in excess of $1 billion shows an increase in this extent of economic damage over the last 30 years,” he said.

Johnson noted that family farmers are good stewards and seek opportunities to work to mitigate climate change, as demonstrated by NFU’s policies supporting acknowledgment of carbon sequestration and emission reductions through agricultural practices, biofuels and renewable energy. “The CEQ revised draft guidance will encourage assessment and discussion on GHG emissions, potentially leading to decisions that will mitigate climate change or increase climate resilience.”

Johnson commended CEQ for assisting agencies in making decisions when considering climate change implications, and contributing to cost-effectiveness and efficiency in government.

“Offering agencies guidance on when and how to consider the climate change implications of their actions makes it easier for them to make such assessments, increasing the likelihood of agencies carrying out these assessments,” said Johnson. “The guidance is also likely to increase cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the federal government by instructing them to consider what impact climate change might have on agency actions, helping to avoid projects that might become prohibitively expensive or obsolete as weather patterns change.”

Johnson noted that any GHG emission reductions the guidance fosters could contribute to climate change mitigation, reducing some of the hazards climate change poses to agriculture.  “Any reduction in GHG emissions as a product of the guidance could assist family farmers and ranchers in the fight against climate change.

“Family agriculture in the U.S. has much to offer in the fight against climate change, but our farmers and ranchers need policy support from the federal government in order to make their best contributions. NFU stands ready to offer any support and assistance CEQ may find helpful on this or related matters,” 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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