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NFU Praises Bipartisan Senate STB Reform Bill Introduction PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 11, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) praised Sens. Thune (R-SD) and Rockefeller (D-WV) for the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would improve the functioning of the Surface Transportation Board and ensure that the agency is more responsive to the needs of its many customers.

“I commend Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Thune for addressing this important issue on behalf of our family farmers and their cooperatives’ shipping commodities,” said Doug Sombke, chairman of NFU’s legislative committee and president of South Dakota Farmers Union. “After several STB hearings throughout the past year it's extremely gratifying to know STB and the U.S. Congress are listening to our concerns,” he said.

Sombke noted that while addressing many of the issues facing farmers and shippers who are dependent on shipping by rail, it was unclear if the bill would address the issue of whether the fines assessed to shippers for late or non-delivery could be assessed to the railroad for not meeting delivery deadlines. “I surely hope railroads are held to the same standards as our cooperatives,” he said.

In the upper Midwest, where shipping by rail is often the only option for the region’s farmers, rail transportation is months behind schedule, resulting in farmers and cooperatives being assessed hefty fines for late deliveries. In South Dakota, some farmers have already been 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 begins.   

Sombke noted that when the government allows the formation of a monopoly, as it has with the railroad, it should maintain strong oversight to ensure that the rail monopoly is responsive to its captive customers. “We hope this is the beginning of increased congressional oversight of the STB and the beginning of the end of this ridiculous and costly problem,” 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 Board of Directors Votes to Withdraw from Beef Checkoff Working Group PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 6, 2014

Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106
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National Farmers Union board of directors today voted to withdraw from the beef checkoff working group, effective immediately. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“After three years of pushing for real reforms in the beef check-off program, NFU has decided that the process has become a bridge to nowhere and a waste of time and resources. The working group was designed to bring together vested parties from across the beef industry and to attempt to reach a consensus on substantial reforms that would make the check-off a stronger, more effective tool for the beef industry. Sadly, it has become clear that in reality, there is no willingness from key players within the group to allow real reforms to take place. NFU remains willing and eager to engage with others who are interested in reforming the beef checkoff, such that it operates in a manner like other checkoff programs.”

The resolution adopted by the board:

NFU has been working for the past three years to reform the beef checkoff system with other beef industry stakeholders. In accordance with NFU’s 2014 national convention Special Order of Business on the beef checkoff, NFU is hereby withdrawing from this working group, as the process is unlikely to result in necessary reform. It is time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to react to beef producers’ demand to reform this system.

The following reforms are necessary:

  • The CBB must have the authority to carry out checkoff projects on its own, similar to other checkoff oversight boards.
  • The CBB must be allowed to enter into checkoff contracts with non-policy organizations and private companies, such as ad agencies and public relations firms, in order to prevent policy-driven organizations from using checkoff dollars to fund overhead for political activity.
  • The beef checkoff must be completely refundable.
  • A referendum on the continuation of the beef checkoff must occur every five years.

It is our recommendation that USDA consider rewriting the beef check off program under the 1996 generic research and promotion act.

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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Politico Guest Opinion: Beware of the Trojan Horse Labeled COOL ‘Reform’ PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 5, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 5, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson argues in a recent Politico op-ed that the opponents of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), having lost their battles on both the ideological front as well as in the courts, are now trying have the law gutted in the name of ‘reform.”

“Since its passage, COOL has been under full frontal assault both domestically and abroad in an attempt to have the law thrown out in the U.S. courts or by the World Trade Organization. With the efficacy of those lines of attack in question, COOL opponents are now trotting a Trojan horse around Capitol Hill, and naming it COOL “reform.” But don’t be fooled by a name, because the ‘reform’ they are offering would actually eviscerate the labeling law of all common sense and utility and leave it meaningless,” notes Johnson.

Johnson explains that consumers love COOL because they are concerned – and rightfully so – where their food comes from. According to a May 2013 public opinion poll, more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL. And farmers and ranchers, who raise this nation’s livestock and fresh vegetables, love COOL as well, because they’re rightfully proud of what they produce. In essence, they want to have their fingerprint on the product.

“So who could possibly be against this popular, common-sense labeling law?” Johnson asks. “The multinational meat industry has sued USDA and had their case tossed out three times. But with the deep pockets of the multinational meat barons, the sky is the limit on how many more times they might take a shot at the appeal process.”

Johnson explains that the crux of the meat industry’s argument is that COOL will force them to segregate animals from different countries before the animals are processed so that the meat products can be labeled accordingly. This, they say, will be too burdensome and costly for them. 

“It’s simply not believable that an industry that can come up with the idea of using carbon monoxide packaging to extend the shelf life of its meat products can’t figure out how to segregate cattle,” he says. “In North Dakota, we put a fence around them and that works pretty well for us.”

Johnson explains that in the name of ‘reform,’ lobbyists representing these industries will be blanketing Congress with a request to “reform” COOL by labeling all fresh meats from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as ‘Made in North America.’ “That’s just about as useful as labeling it “Made in this solar system,” he says.

Next week, hundreds of farmers – all National Farmers Union members coming into town for the annual fly-in – will descend on Congress to let them know that the “Made in USA” label still means quality and to not succumb to the sales pitch from the Trojan Horse of ‘Reform.’ 

“American farmers and ranchers raise the best meat and vegetables in the world, and they are proud to have their products labeled accordingly,” he notes.

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 Concludes Annual Fall Legislative Fly-In PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 10, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 10, 2014) – Following three days of congressional meetings, Farmers Union members participating in the organization’s fall fly-in are returning home today.

While in Washington, D.C., fly-in participants met with members of Congress, focusing on four priority issues: opposing any legislative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s flawed proposal for 2014 blending targets; stopping any effort to undermine Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL); bringing attention to rail issues in the Midwest; and ensuring the Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region is not supported in its current form.

Fly-in participants also presented the organization’s highest honor, the Golden Triangle Award, to a bipartisan group of 40 senators and representatives who have demonstrated leadership on issues relevant to America’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Members accepted the awards at a reception on Tuesday night at the Stewart Mott House.

“America’s farmers are ready, willing and able to play a vital role in educating consumers about where their food comes from, decreasing America’s dependency on foreign oil, and addressing rail transportation issues in the Midwest. With the right policies in place we can continue to feed the world and fuel the future,” NFU President Roger Johnson said.

The fly-in also included a Monday morning visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other USDA officials briefed participants and took questions on pending agriculture issues.

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 Honors 40 Outstanding Members of Congress with Golden Triangle Award PDF Print E-mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sept. 9, 2014)

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
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WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2014) – – National Farmers Union (NFU) recently announced its recipients of the Golden Triangle Award, the organization’s highest legislative honor. The annual award is presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership and support policies that benefit America’s family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities.

“Recipients of the Golden Triangle Award have been strong advocates for family farmers and ranchers, and support similar principles and policies as Farmers Union,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We are pleased to honor those who have proven to be true allies of our organization and our members across the country.”

This year’s Golden Triangle recipients were selected for their leadership on a variety of issues, including votes on the farm bill and related amendments. The awards will be presented at a reception during NFU’s Annual Legislative Fly-In this September.

The Golden Triangle Award is based on NFU’s symbol – a triangle with “legislation” and “cooperation” forming the sides and “education” the base. The Golden Triangle Awards have been presented to legislators since 1988.

List of all 2014 Golden Triangle Award Recipients:

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wis.         Sen. Michael Bennet, Colo.          Rep. Bruce Braley, Iowa                  Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio         
Rep. Cheri Bustos, Ill.                Sen. Thad Cochran, Miss.            Rep. Joe Courtney, Conn.                Rep. Rodney Davis, Ill.
Sen. Joe Donnelly, Ind.              Rep. Sam Farr, Calif.                   Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, Pa.            Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Neb.
Sen. Al Franken, Minn.               Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa        Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, N.M.   Sen. Martin Heinrich, N.M
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.          Sen. John Hoeven, N.D               Rep. Jared Huffman, Calif.               Sen. Tim Johnson, S.D.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Ohio             Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minn.          Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, N.H.         Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vt.  
Rep. Dave Loebsack, Iowa          Rep. Frank Lucas, Okla.              Rep. Ben Ray Luján Grisham, N.M.   Sen. Jerry Moran, Kan.
Rep. Rick Nolan, Minn.               Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Calif.              Rep. Gary Peters, Mich.                   Rep. Collin Peterson, Minn.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine        Rep. Mark Pocan, Wis.                 Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Mich.           Sen. Mark Udall, Colo.
Sen. Tom Udall, N.M.                 Sen. Jon Tester, Mont.                 Sen. John Walsh, Mont.                   Rep. Tim Walz, Minn.

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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