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Dairy Crisis
Current NFU News
Fargo Forum NFU Guest Editorial: Rail Delays in the Dakotas Staggering, Unacceptable PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 2, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 2, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called the ongoing rail delays in the upper Midwest ‘staggering’ and ‘unacceptable’ and urged the federal government to press “the local railway monopoly” for better results, in a recent Fargo Forum Op-ed.

“If the federal government, under the management of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), doesn’t start producing some impressive results from the local railway monopoly ¾ BNSF Railway (BNSF) and Canadian Pacific (CP) ¾ the area’s farmers, farm families and the rural economies they fuel are going to be feeling a whole lot of hurt,” Johnson points out.

He notes that in North Dakota, where shipping by rail is the only option for many, four different grain elevators indicate that their oldest orders are from early March – that’s four months behind – and shuttle orders are up to 2,000 cars behind.  In South Dakota, farmers will soon be forced to pile wheat on the ground because elevators can’t accept the increased liability. At one particular elevator, 3 million of the yearly 15 million bushels of grain will not move before this year’s harvest comes in. 

“The ethanol industry, with up to 61 percent of ethanol being transported in that fashion, has also been frozen out of rail shipping.   Earlier this year, ethanol prices dramatically increased due to lack of supply brought on by the shipping delays.  Failure to bring ethanol to market will hurt consumers because of higher gasoline prices and will work against our efforts to offset imports of foreign oil.  Ethanol will only fuel the nation if it can get to the nation’s consumers.

“For most of the issues farmers face, they have tools in their belt that can help them deal with an impending disaster.  For many weather and market related issues, they have crop insurance. For soil erosion, they can vary their tilling practices and plant cover crops. For train issues, the only place to turn is the STB. Clearly, someone there needs to wake up at the switch and get things back in order because innocent farmers are paying the price.”

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 for Timely Rollout of Dairy Program PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 28, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson commended USDA on their timely rollout of the dairy Margin Protection Program and for including provisions that will help America’s family farmers with their risk management needs. 

“America’s family-run dairy farms are in great need for these kind of risk management tools to help them manage risk that is beyond their control,” said Johnson. 

The Margin Protection Program, which replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract program, gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best for their operation. The program is voluntary.

“The family farmer provision, included as part of the program, will allow many of this nation’s family-operated dairy farms to breathe a sigh of relief now that they have adequate risk management tools in hand. It is unfortunate that the Congress did not include a dairy stabilization program that would have helped take the volatility out of milk prices.”

USDA also announced the Dairy Product Donation Program (DPDP), which will donate dairy products to low-income people, including food banks, state and local agencies and advocacy organizations to determine the types and quantities of foods to purchase for distribution through its nutrition assistance programs. Johnson called the DPDP smart public policy. “This is a wonderful example of smart public policy since it allows USDA to help stabilize the milk market while also helping those facing food insecurity,” he said.

“USDA has done a wonderful job rolling out its new and updated programs as mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill and they should be commended for that,” he said.

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 Says Department of Justice Seems to Ignore Its Own Anti-Trust Laws PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (August 27, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Department of Justice has approved the Tyson-Hillshire merger:

“Anti-trust laws were put on the books to keep powerful industries – like the meat industry – from being overly consolidated.  Yet nearly every merger request they file is approved by the Department of Justice.  As a result, the meat industry grows more powerful by the day and the family farmer continues to get squeezed. 

“This is because farmers are price takers not price makers, and when the number of buyers is decreased, the sales options left to farmers and ranchers are fewer and fewer and the ability of the buyers to dictate prices to producers continues to increase.  The top four meat packers already control 80 percent of the market and now that number has just gone up.

“Once again, the Department of Justice has turned its back on family farmers.”  

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 Minnesota Farmers Union television program on Emmy nomination PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release
Aug. 26, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 26, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded the Emmy® award nomination of Farm Fresh Road Trip, a Minnesota Farmers Union sponsored television program, in the Upper Midwest Emmy’s®.

“We applaud Minnesota Farmers Union for their role in producing Farm Fresh Road Trip, a program that will help connect the consumer to the producer while highlighting the local food movement,” says NFU President Roger Johnson. “This is a wonderful way to reach out to the greater public and bring the issue of family farming and benefits of buying local to the forefront.”

Farm Fresh Road Trip is nominated in the category: Lifestyle-Program/Special/Series. It is in competition for the Emmy® with four other programs from Iowa Public Television; WCCO-TV, Minnesota; WQOW-TV, Wisconsin; WHO-TV, Iowa. The final determination as to which program wins the Emmy® is announced on Sept. 13, 2014.

The show demonstrates how respected local farmers working with premier Minnesota chefs can provide wonderful local food meals at both restaurants and at home. It helps connect all of us with the bounty of Minnesota’s harvests and helps make connections with the farmers on the land who grow our food.

The nomination was announced just over one week prior to Minnesota Cooks day at the Minnesota State Fair, a one-day event with similar goals to Farm Fresh Road Trip: to connect households, restaurants and economies with locally produced foods. Johnson, who took part in the Minnesota Cooks’ festivities at the fair on Sunday, noted the importance buying from local producers and educating the public.

“This is a wonderful example of how grass-roots organizations can directly reach consumers and promote a better understanding of farming, farm families and food production in general,” said Johnson.  “MFU has done a wonderful job partnering with public television and getting this quality show produced,” he said.

The Emmy® nomination includes Twin Cities Public Television’s host, crew and leadership, MFU President Doug Peterson, and MFU Minnesota Cooks™ Director, Bruce Miller, as Producing Partners. All the people listed on the nomination are eligible for a Nomination Plaque honoring their work; and should the program be the final recipient, all are also eligible for an Emmy® statue.

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 Urges Administration to Finalize RFS Rule, Support Original RFS Targets PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release
Aug. 26, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Aug. 26, 2014) – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged the Administration to act quickly on finalizing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and reiterated the importance of the RFS goals to family farmers and the rural economies they support.

“Biofuels are a critical component of this nation’s energy portfolio, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil imports while also giving a shot in the arm to family farms and the larger rural economies they support,” said Johnson.

The RFS is our nation’s main policy driver for renewable fuels, and since its creation by Congress has created $184.5 billion in economic impact while supporting 852,056 jobs nationwide.  The biofuels industries – and the farmers who grow the grains they use – are poised for continued growth but need a clear signal that the targets will remain firm.   “The RFS has created a win-win-win scenario for the environment, farmers, jobs and consumers, and deserves the full support of the Administration,” he said.

Johnson said that the mixed messages coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Administration’s support for the RFS targets, combined with the lengthy delays in finalizing the rule, have been a set-back to the biofuels industry and farmers who grow the grains they need.  “These lengthy delays and the mixed messages from EPA have very seriously damaged all advanced biofuels, including the cellulosic ethanol biofuel industry,” 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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