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Current NFU News
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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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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