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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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NFU Commends USDA on Timely Rollout of Important Farm Safety Net Programs PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 25, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 25, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should be commended for its timely rollout of several important farm safety net programs.

“Family farmers across this great nation need as much certainty as possible as they plan for the upcoming crop year, and USDA has given them an enormous peace of mind by rolling out these very important risk management tools,” said Goule. 

USDA Secretary Vilsack unveiled the details of several important programs contained in the 2014 Farm Bill intended to help farmers manage the ups and downs of unpredictable weather and commodity price fluctuations. Farmers will be able to make a choice between Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) starting Sept. 29, 2014, a one-time decision that will affect them through the length of the Farm Bill.

ARC, a revenue program that covers price and yield losses, gives farmers a choice between county-level coverage (ARC-CO) and individual-level farm coverage (ARC-IC).  PLC, a target-price program, makes payments when the national average of commodity crop prices drop below a specific reference price set in the Farm Bill.

Producers will be required to make a number of choices in the months ahead. Decisions around updating base acres, reallocating existing base acres, and program elections will need to be made. These decisions will take a great deal of reflection, and producers will need to evaluate their strategic goals on a given FSA farm. Like past commodity programs, upcoming selections will have multi-year payment implications, and decisions will reside with the land going forward. Producers can utilize online web-based decision tools developed by the USDA to help make the program selections that best fit their operation.

“Through this extended timetable, USDA has given farmers increased flexibility and sufficient time and resources to make informed decisions on which risk management program bests addresses their specific situation,” said Goule.

“The 2014 Farm Bill represented a major shift in farm policy, reducing overall spending while placing a new emphasis on personal risk management tools for family farmers,” said Goule. “These new tools announced today will help America’s family farmers continue to raise the food, feed, fiber and fuel for the world’s growing base of consumers.”

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 Submits Comments to Proposed Rule on WOTUS Says With Revisions, Rule Could Clarify Farmer Questions While Protecting Environment PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (September 22, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed rule addressing the “Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Definitions Under the Clean Water Act.” The comments are intended to provide the agencies with advice for drafting a final rule that does not increase CWA jurisdiction and promotes consistent application of EPA policies, which aligns with the agencies’ stated intent.   

“These comments should help the agencies avoid using language that could be taken out of context and used to stretch CWA jurisdiction in the future,” said Johnson. “The agencies’ stated intent is to replace inconsistent practices with clear, bright-line tests through this proposed rule. If NFU’s comments are given proper consideration, the final rule will allow the regulated community the certainty it needs to conduct its business free from fear of undue regulatory interference and without sacrificing the agencies’ ability to protect the United States’ water resources,” he said. “The importance of clean water today and for future generations is critical to the well-being of the nation.”

Johnson pointed out that if NFU’s comments are incorporated into the final rule, a number of important and much needed clarifications will be achieved. Those include:

  • A definition of “tributary” that clarifies without increasing CWA jurisdiction. 
  • A bright-line rule for "adjacent waters," reducing the need for case-by-case determinations.
  • Codification of agency practice in light of Supreme Court rulings, increasing the predictability of jurisdictional determinations by the agencies.
  • An exclusion of ditches that do not connect with wetlands, riparian areas, floodplains, or other waters.
  • An exclusion of ditches without perennial flow from CWA jurisdiction.
  • Affirmation of exemptions for normal agricultural activities.

Johnson urged other groups submitting comments to be constructive in critiquing the rule and to remember that EPA has been ordered by the Courts to write a rule and that it was up to vested interests, like farmers and ranchers, to provide expertise and insight as to how this rule will operate in the real world. “If NFU’s comments are incorporated into the final rule, it will remove a lot of uncertainty and protect family farmers from litigation,” he said.

Read the comments in their 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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NFU Applauds Resolution Designating 2014 “International Year of Family Farming” PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 17, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 17, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) today applauded the passage of the Senate Resolution designating 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming (IYFF).” NFU has lead the U.S. Committee for IYFF and played a key role in having the resolution adopted by the Senate. 

“Recognizing the critical role family farmers play in providing food, fuel, feed and fiber to the global population and alleviating hunger and poverty is important because we need to be developing our future farmers – both in the United States and abroad – right now,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Senate Resolution 544, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, notes that while agriculture contributes more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and employs 14 percent of the total U.S. workforce, 45 percent of individuals around the world make their living from farming.

“Family farming clearly plays a major role in today’s economy and will continue to play a key role for those living in developing nations,” said Johnson. “For many citizens of the world, the primary key to breaking out of poverty will be farming.”

“Family farmers across the world lift up their communities with every harvest," Senator Amy Klobuchar said. "Today's action in the Senate recognizes that rural communities are the backbone of local economies around the world, and honors the contributions that family farmers make in our global fight to eradicate poverty and hunger."

“I'm glad the Senate passed this resolution recognizing the contributions that family farmers make to the world community. Farming is a tireless and often thankless way to make a living, yet time and time again, family farmers stand ready to feed and fuel societies around the globe," said Senator Charles Grassley. 

Johnson thanked the senators for introducing the resolution and noted that it was fitting given their strong and unbending commitment to agriculture. “These senators have both been great friends and steadfast advocates for family farming and we appreciate the added spotlight they have given those who earn their living feeding the world’s people,” he said.

The resolution also urges other countries and national organizations to undertake activities supporting the IYFF while advocating for the protection and long-term viability of family farms both here and abroad.

Johnson noted that as part of that mandate, NFU will continue to focus its education programs on community engagement, leadership development and youth outreach. “Many of those who have been touched by NFU’s outreach and education efforts have indeed gone on to be farmers, leaders in agriculture, key decision-makers in international food and aid organizations and even elected officials,” said Johnson.

For more information on IYFF, visit www.yearoffamilyfarming.com.

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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Farm Safety Should be a Front Burner Issue PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release
Sept. 11, 2014                                                                 

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2014) – In honor of the United Nations’ 2014 International Year of Family Farming, this month National Farmers Union (NFU) is highlighting the importance of being proactive in the area of farm safety. Agriculture is consistently among the most hazardous occupations in the United States.

“The path to a safer farm and ranch is through proactively addressing ongoing and emerging occupational safety and health issues affecting U.S. agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Family farmers and ranchers must work together to make farm safety a front burner issue and encourage farmers, producers and agribusiness owners to integrate safety into everyday practice so that it becomes part of their DNA, not just a program or a slogan. Safety is an approach to life and the workplace.”

In an average year, 516 workers die while doing farm work, and each day about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-time injuries.

“To that end, National Farmers Union is implementing an education and outreach plan to help bring the safety mindset to farmers and ranchers where they live.” said Johnson. “The initiative will be unveiled later this year, and will help NFU make its mark on this important issue.”

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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