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Johnson Testifies Before STB on Rail Access PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 10, 2014) – Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson testified before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) at a public hearing on service problems in the U.S. rail network. South Dakota Farmers Union member DuWayne Bosse is also scheduled to testify, and Montana Farmers Union and North Dakota Farmers Union submitted written testimony to the STB.

“The protection of captive shippers is one of the issues at the core of NFU’s creation more than 100 years ago,” said Johnson. “Access to rail transportation continues to be one of the most important factors in the prosperity of rural America.”

The upper Midwest in particular has experienced a significant rail car shortage for transportation of agricultural commodities, due largely to a rapidly growing energy sector and the prioritization of oil, coal and container shipments over grain. This shortage has led to costly delays and penalties for late shipments that grain elevators then pass on to farmers. The cost of shipping delays amounts to approximately $0.40 to $1.00 per bushel of wheat, which translates to a loss of $9,600 per average farm, at minimum.

Johnson listed three actions for the STB to take to address these problems: holding railroads responsible for losses due to delayed delivery of rail cars, requiring rail companies to guarantee a certain portion of shipments are dedicated to agricultural products, and ensuring there is increased future investment to compensate for the increased demand.

“I hope that the STB will take this issue seriously so that family farmers and ranchers can benefit from immediate and long-term solutions to current rail problems,” Johnson said.

Click here to read NFU’s testimony.

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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CFTC Reauthorization Bill Passes House Ag Committee PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky
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WASHINGTON (April 9, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on today’s U.S. House Committee on Agriculture markup of H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act:

“Well-functioning, competitive and transparent markets are critical to family farmers, who use commodity derivatives markets as a hedging and price discovery tool. The Dodd-Frank Act authorized long-overdue derivative market reforms and the enforcement of new and existing trading rules to protect commodity-dependent businesses, end-users and consumers. Reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) must reinforce, not undermine, Dodd-Frank’s provisions and CFTC’s expanded oversight.

“I am pleased that a study on the impact of high frequency trading is included in the bill, but there ought to be further studies on excessive speculation and its damaging effects on price discovery and the marketplace in general.

“Furthermore, it’s disappointing that a self-funding mechanism or user-fee for the CFTC was not included in the bill. The annual appropriations battles over CFTC funding are disruptive to the agency’s regulation of the $690 trillion swaps market. While these and other priorities are considered in the legislative process, NFU seeks to continue to work with Congress to enact an effective final bill.

“Additionally, none of the two current CFTC commissioners or three pending nominees has agricultural experience, in spite of the commission’s jurisdiction over agricultural commodity derivatives and the underlying physical markets. I urge Congress to stress to the administration the importance of qualified CFTC nominees who understand the unique needs of farmers and commodity end-users.”

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: Stable Biofuels Policy is Key to Next Generation PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 8, 2014) – Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson commended the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for its hearing on advanced biofuels.

“I appreciate the committee’s focus on forward-looking energy policies that increase net farm income while reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Johnson. “Today’s hearing highlighted the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the 2014 Farm Bill’s significant investments in on-farm renewable energy production.”

Biofuels are an important part of the climate change solution. Corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, and cellulosic ethanol reduces emissions by 87 percent. 

“I particularly commend senators and witnesses for their comments on the connection between corn ethanol and advanced biofuels. A stable, consistent corn ethanol policy is needed to transition the industry to advanced biofuels in the long-term,” Johnson said. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must increase the 2014 RFS targets to statutory levels in order to give investors the policy certainty to finance the expansion of advanced biofuels.” 

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 Names Senate Ag Appropriations Priorities PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 7, 2014) – Last week National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, outlining NFU’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 funding for agricultural programs.

Johnson’s testimony reiterated NFU’s top appropriations priorities, as previously submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. Three of NFU’s main requests are to reject legislative riders or targeted funding restrictions for Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), oppose legislative riders that would undermine the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to write rules to provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers, and fully fund 2014 Farm Bill energy programs at their maximum authorized levels.

“Both COOL and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations survived attempts to defund or dismantle their important provisions. However, our opponents insist on rehashing old fights,” said Johnson.

“These sorts of proposed legislative riders ignore previous congressional decisions and create ongoing uncertainty for family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “It is important that the subcommittee reject misguided attempts to undermine consumers’ right to know about their food through COOL or erode GIPSA’s authority to fight for fair markets.”

“Renewable energy programs are a win-win that boost farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom lines while reducing our country’s carbon footprint. Fully funding these and other 2014 Farm Bill programs should be appropriators’ highest priority,” Johnson said.

Click here to read NFU’s testimony.

 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 Expresses Tax Extenders Priorities PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2014

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
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WASHINGTON (April 3, 2014) – Yesterday National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance leaders expressing priorities for the renewal of expiring tax provisions in advance of the committee’s markup of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

Johnson praised Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for maintaining the $500,000 maximum deduction for farm machinery, which will help family farmers and ranchers improve their businesses.

The draft legislation also extends tax credits for biodiesel, cellulosic biofuels and energy efficiency but omits other crucial provisions, such as extensions of the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy. Johnson said, “Our country lacks a comprehensive, national energy strategy that moves us toward energy independence and helps mitigate the effects of climate change. These tax credits are some of the only policies we have that support the development of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. Failure to renew these provisions would be taking a giant step backward.”

In the letter, Johnson also expressed disappointment in the legislation’s continuation of tax loopholes for the largest corporations. “Given the widening income inequality gap and our national debt, we cannot afford this sort of tax break,” said Johnson. “Every dollar lost because of these loopholes is one less dollar available to invest in jobs, infrastructure, food for the hungry or to reduce the deficit.”

Click here to read the letter.

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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