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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Delivers NFU Convention Keynote Address PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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SANTA FE, N.M. (March 10, 2014) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed attendees of the National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 112th anniversary convention this morning, highlighting the important contributions family farmers and ranchers make to our country’s food, energy, economic, environmental and national security. His keynote remarks on implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill set the tone for the afternoon’s upcoming policy discussion.

“For more than two years the secretary has been almost singularly focused on getting a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill through a dysfunctional Congress to provide certainty for family farmers, ranchers and the food insecure. It is refreshing to hear him instead be able to celebrate our hard-fought farm bill victories in a forward-looking address,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to put forward all resources possible to quickly roll out the commodity programs even though we are in the midst of the 2014 crop year.”

During his remarks, the Secretary announced new and expanded efforts to connect small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations.

“The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape,” said Vilsack. “USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We’ve adjusted policies, strengthened programs and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country’s agricultural and economic future.”

“The administration’s efforts to reinvigorate family farmers in the shrinking middle will provide valuable resources to the family farmers and ranchers who most need education, credit and technical assistance and build the future of the rural economy,” said Johnson.

For more information about the NFU convention, visit www.nfu.org/convention, or follow @nfudc and #NFU2014 on Twitter.

 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 Members Hear from Farm Bill Insiders PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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SANTA FE, N.M. (March 9, 2014) – Attendees of National Farmers Union‘s (NFU) annual convention heard today from a panel of congressional, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and media experts on the 2014 Farm Bill.

Bart Fischer, chief economist, House Committee on Agriculture; Joe Shultz, chief economist, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; and Alexis Taylor, chief of staff, USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, described the farm bill conference process from their respective viewpoints. Sara Wyant, president, Agri-Pulse Communications, moderated the panel.

The panelists discussed the compromises farm bill conference committee members made when negotiating the differences between the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill, particularly on commodity programs, Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), crop insurance, payment limitations, changes to base acres allocations, and the new dairy program.

Panelists focused on the new commodity programs, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, as well as enhanced risk management tools, including the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) and improved options for non-insured crops and beginning farmers. Emphasis was also placed on the importance coalition-building efforts played in farm bill passage.

Taylor discussed the long-term implementation timeline, with emphasis on timely enactment of the livestock disaster programs, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's top priority. USDA also plans to hold listening sessions in Washington, D.C., and across the country to ensure farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to provide input on program implementation.

When posed with a question on COOL, the panelists each said they would be watching the World Trade Organization’s decision closely.

“This panel was a great opportunity for our members to hear firsthand from those responsible for all aspects of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ farm bill process: both writing and implementing the legislation,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The information the panelists presented will help our members prepare for the difficult and complex commodity program and risk management decisions they will be making in the coming year.”

For more information on the NFU convention, visit www.nfu.org/convention, or follow @nfudc and #NFU2014 on Twitter.

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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Tim Marema Honored with Award for Excellence in Agricultural Communications PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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SANTA FE, N.M. (March 9, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) presented Tim Marema of Daily Yonder with the Milton D. Hakel Award for Excellence in Agricultural Communications during NFU’s 112th Anniversary Convention.

“NFU appreciates the work of the media to ensure the public receives the most accurate, unbiased information about issues our industry is facing,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Marema and his staff at Daily Yonder are dedicated to bringing both sides of the story to their readers. We are proud to present this honor on behalf of all of our members.”

The award is presented to reporters or news outlets that demonstrate exceptional reporting of agricultural issues in honor of Milton D. Hakel, a longtime, well-respected Farmers Union communicator.

“Daily Yonder is dedicated to covering current and past events to share, raise awareness, and generate positive coverage of matters vital to family farms and ranches,” said Missouri Farmers Union President Richard Oswald upon nomination. “Tim has offered a very visible link to farm policy reaching all the way to the White House, where Daily Yonder is seen as taking the pulse of rural America.”

Tim Marema is editor of the Daily Yonder and vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies, the site's publisher. He began his print journalism career at the weekly Berea Citizen (Kentucky) as part of Berea College's student labor program. He went on to help found the Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Herald, a daily edition of the Herald-Sun of Durham. He served as editor of the newspaper for five years before joining Appalshop as development director in 1992. Tim holds a master's in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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 Recognizes Members, States for Excellence PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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SANTA FE, N.M. (March 9, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) recognized members, county and local organizations and state divisions for excellence in membership recruitment and outreach in the past year.

“Peer recruitment is a powerful and important part of growing and maintaining membership in our organization,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The passion and dedication these members exude for Farmers Union is something in which we take great pride.”

Gary Wertish of Minnesota Farmers Union achieved the Silver Star Award. The Silver Star Award is the highest award a member can achieve for membership recruitment in a given year.

“Wertish has achieved this level of excellence each of the past three years,” said Johnson. “His determination and commitment to bringing new members to the organization is invaluable. We are proud of his achievement.”

Individuals also recognized for membership recruitment included Holly Finnarn of Ohio, Tom Farber of South Dakota, Ben Gotschall of Nebraska, Larry Anderson of Minnesota, and Linda Riefers of Ohio. Thirty-three county and local organizations were also recognized. North Dakota and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union were each presented with the Outstanding Leadership Achievement Award for their level of activity and outreach.

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 Convention Convenes with a Focus on Future of Family Farm Policy PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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SANTA FE, N.M. (March 8, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) is focused firmly on family farming and ranching’s promising future, while remaining anchored in the organization’s rich 112-year heritage, NFU President Roger Johnson told NFU convention attendees this evening.

Farmers Union has many successes to celebrate this year, with significant membership growth in key states; the passage of a new five-year farm bill that will positively impact farmers, ranchers and consumers; robust grassroots advocacy efforts across the country; and increasing participation in Farmers Union’s education programs. These victories will set the stage for continued work centered on priorities set by the membership this week in Santa Fe.

Johnson told Farmers Union members in attendance that “thanks to your hard work and tireless advocacy, we have a 2014 Farm Bill.” NFU achieved several key priorities in the bill, including safety net provisions that protect farmers from losses due to both natural disasters and price collapse; a disaster program for livestock producers; maintenance of the existing Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law for meat, seafood and poultry; and mandatory funding for renewable energy programs.

Johnson continued to outline three major legislative challenges NFU faces in the coming year: ongoing efforts to undermine COOL, attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and pending free trade agreements.

“Although we have achieved a victory in the farm bill, the COOL fight is not over,” said Johnson. “COOL is on the right side of history, but our opponents will keep looking for a back-door win in Congress and we must remain vigilant.”

“The RFS saves consumers a dollar per gallon in fuel costs while reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy,” said Johnson. The global oil and gas industry is larger than the gross domestic product of all but three countries in the world, the United States, Japan and China, Johnson noted. The oil industry’s aggressive lobbying campaign against the RFS has resulted in an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would slash RFS targets by 16 percent.

As the United States negotiates pending free trade agreements with Pacific nations and the EU, NFU continues to urge our negotiators to support principles that will positively impact the U.S. economy. “Although agriculture enjoys a positive trade balance, the rest of the U.S. economy suffers an enormous trade deficit, resulting in the annual loss of three to five million American jobs and a 4 percent drag on our nation’s economic performance,” said Johnson. “The inconvenient truth about U.S. trade is that we have no clear trade strategy.”

NFU will continue to meet these challenges with its time-tested advocacy and leadership. “During the 2014 Farm Bill debate, we proved that there is no match for the grassroots power of family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The strength of our organization is in our membership – it always has been, and it always will be.”

The NFU convention continues through Tuesday, March 11. For more information, visit www.nfu.org/convention, or follow @nfudc and #NFU2014 on Twitter.

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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