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Current NFU News
NFU Statement on National Climate Assessment PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 701-690-0000
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WASHINGTON (May 6, 2014) -- National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on the Obama administration's National Climate Assessment:

"The National Climate Assessment only confirms what family farmers and ranchers have been experiencing: global climate change is increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, which then directly impact agricultural risk, farmers' bottom lines and the entire rural economy.

"The administration's report is clear. Congress must take legislative action to mitigate climate change in order to protect farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.

"I also encourage the administration to heed its own advice by rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's misguided proposal to reduce the biofuel production targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is currently our country's most important strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The EPA's proposal will not only adversely impact commodity prices and rural employment, but will also move our country further from achieving our climate change mitigation goals."

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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Johnson Discusses COOL, Competition and RFS at House Livestock Hearing PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 30, 2014) – Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson testified before a U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit hearing to review the state of the livestock industry.

“Farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and studies have shown that 95 percent of consumers want Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL),” Johnson said. “The World Trade Organization said the law is compliant. COOL has won twice in federal court. It is unfortunate to hear so many members of the subcommittee be more concerned about the fortunes of multinational packing and food companies rather than on-the-ground family farmers and ranchers. We know that consumer trust is of the utmost importance, and accurate COOL labels must be preserved.”

Rural America has lost 34 percent of beef operations and 91 percent of hog farms since 1980 – a total loss of 1.1 million livestock farms. There are also fewer meatpackers and processors. Today, the top four beef packers have control over 81 percent of cattle slaughter in the U.S., and the top four swine processors control 65 percent of hog sales.

“Fewer livestock buyers result in less competition, greater opportunity for antitrust violations, and a difficult market for the remaining farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the authority to prohibit deceptive or fraudulent buying practices by processors and may protect farmers and ranchers if they have been harmed by unfair trade practices, but appropriations riders over the last three years have kept USDA from implementing these basic fairness rules. Future riders that impede enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act must be defeated.”

Biofuel production and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) help the rural economy as a whole. In 2006, when the RFS was enacted, net farm income was $57.4 billion. In 2012, net farm income stood at $112.8 billion and meat production has not declined significantly since the enactment of the RFS.

“Biofuels do not significantly drive up the price of food. In fact, according to USDA, only 16 percent of grocery costs go back to farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The World Bank found that crude oil is the number one determinant of global food prices. We should reduce our dependence on oil consumption in order to become more food secure, and biofuel production is an excellent way to do that.”

Johnson’s written testimony provides additional details and outlines NFU’s position on other important issues, including the impact of trade on the livestock sector and a proposal to allow the importation of beef from a region of Brazil with a history of foot and mouth disease.

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: Maintain the Ban on Brazilian Beef to Protect U.S. Ranchers and Consumers PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 22, 2014) – Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on its proposal to allow the importation of beef from several states in Brazil with a recent history of unresolved foot and mouth disease (FMD).

“As we’ve seen in the past, consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply is easily jeopardized by even rumored threats,” said Johnson. “NFU’s family farmer- and rancher-driven policy is clear on this issue: livestock, animal protein products and meat imports from countries with a history of FMD and other infectious livestock diseases put the entire U.S. livestock industry at risk due to the very real possibility of transmission of FMD to U.S. livestock. APHIS must maintain the current ban on importation of fresh beef from Brazil.”

Inconsistencies between animal health disclosures reported by APHIS and the World Organization for Animal Health further erode NFU’s confidence in the safety of beef imports from countries with a history of FMD presence and a poor food safety record. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat on three occasions in 2010 due to drug contamination.

The economic costs of an FMD outbreak in the United States would be tremendous. A 2002 study found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the U.K. in 2001 were to strike the United States, a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result. This includes costs of quarantine and eradication of animals, a ban on exports, and reduced consumer confidence. In addition, the disease could spread to any cloven-hoofed animals, endangering other domestic livestock like sheep or pigs, and wild deer and antelope that form the basis of the U.S. hunting industry.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for our long-standing disease prevention efforts and high food safety standards. USDA must not endanger this reputation, or consumers’ safety, for the sake of cheap imported food,” Johnson said.

Click here to read NFU’s comments.

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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STB Decision a Step in the Right Direction PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 17, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) today praised an April 15 decision by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) that ordered BNSF Railway (BNSF) and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) to direct all necessary railcars and locomotive power to move fertilizer into position to avoid planting delays this spring.

The STB held a public hearing on April 10, 2014, at its office in Washington, D.C., to provide interested persons the opportunity to report on recent service problems in the U.S. rail network, to hear from rail industry executives on plans to address their service problems, and to discuss additional options to improve service.

“Farmers have faced prolonged delays in transporting agricultural commodities by BNSF and CP,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “This action will ensure timely delivery of much-needed fertilizer for farmers in the upper Midwest.”

The STB decision requires the railroads to report by April 18 their plans to deliver fertilizer shipments for spring planting and to provide weekly status reports over the next six weeks regarding delivery of fertilizer.

“This is a step in the right direction to make sure that farmers have the tools they need by planting season,” Johnson said. “I am pleased that the STB is now requiring the railroads to report on their fertilizer delivery performance. I urge the board to follow Tuesday’s action by addressing the equally serious issue of grain shipment delays.” 

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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Renewable Energy Must Play a Significant Role in Climate Change Mitigation PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 15, 2014) – Today the third working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its report on climate change mitigation. The report finds that climate change is occurring at a rapid rate, but mitigation strategies such as scaling up renewable energy production could substantially reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"The working group's report complements NFU's long-held, member-led policy positions by recognizing the need for a comprehensive renewable energy strategy," said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson. "Tripling or even quadrupling the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewables, as the report recommends, will require significant investments in energy technologies that utilize rural America’s renewable and human resources. These investments would pay off not only by helping to mitigate the effects of climate change but by driving significant rural economic development.”

According to the report, total anthropogenic GHG emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 in spite of a growing number of climate change mitigation policies. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010. Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist, driven by growth in global population and economic activities.

“America’s family farmers and ranchers are concerned about the effects of climate change and stand ready to be part of the solution to our global climate challenges,” 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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