NFU Convention convenes with a focus on future of family farm policy

Farm Forum

SANTA FE, N.M. – 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 on March 8.

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 set the stage for continued work centered on priorities set by the membership last 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.”