From left: David Townsend, FFA President; Victoria Harris, FFA Secretary; Andrew Jerome, NFU Communications Director; Trey Elizondo, FFA West Region Vice President; Zach Clark, NFU Government Relations Representative; Valerie Earley, FFA Central Region Vice President; Rob Larew, NFU Vice President of Public Policy & Communications; Ashley Willits, FFA Eastern Region Vice President; DeShawn Blanding, FFA Southern Region Vice President; Roger Johnson, NFU President; Tom Driscoll, NFU Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation
FFA Meets with NFU
On Tuesday, NFU staff welcomed the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Officer Team. During the meeting, the FFA officers learned more about NFU, its members, and its policy. They also discussed effective ways of advocating for American farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
David Townsend, of Delaware, serves as National FFA President. Victoria Harris, Florida, is FFA’s Secretary. Each region has its own National FFA Vice President: Valerie Earley of Minnesota represents the Central Region, Ashley Willits of New York represents the Eastern Region, Trey Elizondo of Texas represents the Western Region, and DeShawn Blanding of South Caroline represents the Southern Region.
Download the Mobile App for NFU’s Convention
NFU 115th Anniversary Convention has gone mobile!
We’re excited to announce we have a brand new mobile guide for you to use on Guidebook! Get the guide to access the most up-to-date information about our event, including schedules, maps, speakers, local attractions, and more.
Tap the “Download” button to download the free Guidebook app
Open Guidebook and you can find our “NFU 115th Anniversary Convention” guide
See you there!
The Catamaran Resort and Spa
NFU’s 115th Anniversary Convention
The National Farmers Union 115th Anniversary Convention will be held March 5-8, 2017 in San Diego, California.
This year’s convention will debut an Education Alumni Reception, which is open to graduates from all of NFU’s educational programs, including All-States, BFI, NGAC, and Women’s Conference. At the event, NFU staff will be honoring three Farmers Union members with an Outstanding Leadership Award, as well as showcasing the work of other leaders throughout the organization.
Additionally, NFU will be offering an all-day Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training course on Saturday, March 4th, which will be open to attendees of the Beginning Farmer Institute, Women’s Conference, and Convention. This is the only FDA-approved course to help producers prepare to meet the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Registration is open here. Entry is $40 per person, and includes breakfast and lunch. For more information about the course, visit our training page.
Download the mobile app for the full agenda and list of speakers, or visit our website and Facebook page for more information.
Ten Reasons to Attend NFU’s Women’s Conference
Just as farmers need to care for our soil, we also need to nurture our minds and plant new idea seeds to shape a healthy business vision. That’s exactly what’s on the menu for women farmers at this year’s National Farmers Union Women’s Conference March 3-5, 2017 at the Catamaran Resort in sunny San Diego, just before National Farmers Union 115th Anniversary Convention. This one-of-a-kind event brings together fellow female Farmers Union members from across the country for an inspiring, intense dose of resources, information, and – most importantly – collaborative connections and idea sharing with an amazing group of women.
Need more reasons to join women from across the country for this inspiring kickoff to your spring season? Read Lisa Kivirist’s blog post for ten great ones!
New on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column: Christensen Farm Family
Marlow Christensen and his wife Donna have been farming for over 50 years. Since the beginning, the work of running the feedyard and raising crops has been a family affair. They and their three sons all share a percentage of the expenses and profits brought in by the 2,000-head feedyard and crops they market.
New on the NFU Climate Column: Developing Protocols for Environmental Markets
Relatively few range or pasture land projects are producing marketable greenhouse gas (GHG) credits, and producer awareness of environmental markets is extremely low. Through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), Farmer Veteran Coalition, a national nonprofit organization that assists military veterans embarking on careers in agriculture, is working with Terra Global Capital to engage farmers and ranchers from the very beginning of the protocol development so that data collection and monitoring requirements are attainable for those on the ground.
Have you heard the term “telemedicine” recently and wondered what it is? Wonder no more! Telemedicine is a convenient new way to talk to a doctor 24 hours a day 7 days a week when you’re having non-emergency medical issues at home or anywhere else not close to a doctor’s office.
So how does it work? You get telemedicine when you sign up for the Wellness Access Card for a low $99 yearly fee for the entire family. You will then get access to a 24-hour physician phone line that lets you speak to a real doctor, who will make treatment recommendations and even write prescriptions over the phone for common sickness such as flu, sinus infections, respiratory infections, pink eye and more.
Telemedicine is a great option for those who live in rural areas far away from a doctor’s office. You don’t need to wait until the morning to visit the doctor if you’re feeling under the weather at night.
There are no age restrictions, and there are even pediatricians available for when your children get sick. On average we see 97% member satisfaction and 97% physician satisfaction. On average members receive a call back from the physician in 22 minutes and a guarantee call back within three hours.
All you have to do is sign up for the Wellness Access Card and choose whether you want a monthly or annual membership. Once enrolled you will receive your membership kit, which comes with the telemedicine phone number and specific instructions on how to use it. That’s it. No long forms to fill out. Simply call the number and get medical assistance.
As U.S. Trade Deficit Grows, NFU Calls for Renewed Trade Agenda
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2017) – The U.S. Commerce Department announced today that the U.S. trade deficit grew to $502 billion in 2016, marking its highest level in four years. Pointing to the need to reset the nation’s trade agenda and address the massive trade deficit, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response:
Yet again, our nation’s trade deficit soared to more than half a trillion dollars, representing a direct 2.7 percent drag on our economy in 2016. Clearly, the deeply flawed trade agenda that our trade negotiators have continued to employ is failing family farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and the overall U.S. economy.
NFU urges the Trump Administration to reset the nation’s trade agenda in a manner that addresses the massive trade deficit, expands the agricultural trade surplus and protects U.S. sovereignty, while maintaining positive relationships with our trading partners.
Register now and receive a free copy of Lisa Kivirist’s “Soil Sisters!”
NFU 2017 Women’s Conference: Shaping the Future
NFU’s 2017 Women’s Conference, “Shaping the Future,” will be held March 4-5 in San Diego, California, immediately prior to the annual convention.
The conference will prepare attendees and their operations for their own future in many areas, including business planning, succession planning, running for local office, networking, telling their own stories, innovative marketing and much, much more. NFU hopes to provide attendees with a network of female producers that they can reach out to throughout the year, as well as provide attendees with useful risk management tools that will help set their operations up for a future of success.
Download the mobile app for a full agenda and speaker list, and find more information at NFU’s website and Facebook page.
Beginning Farmer Institute Registration Open
NFU Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) develops leadership and farm management skills in beginning farmers and additionally encourages them to apply those abilities in their community organizations. Farmers Union employs educational sessions, business tools and professional speakers in a structured setting that includes on-farm experiences and tours of cooperatives.
For applications and more information, visit NFU’s website.
Join NFU’s Beginning Farmer Forum
The NFU Beginning Farmer Forum is a community of farmers, ranchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public that share common knowledge and interest in helping beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the challenges to starting and sustaining a farming operation in the U.S. It hopes to spread awareness about these challenges, provide insight into how they can be addressed at local, state and national policy levels, and share current resources and tools that benefit.
Join the Beginning Farmer Forum on Facebook to connect with hundreds of other farmers and contribute to the conversation.
NFU Farm Safety Video Series
NFU released a series of farm safety videos in 2016. Through these 10 short videos, we hope to build mass awareness to farm safety issues and contribute to reducing the number of annual farm-related accidents.
Visit our website (http://nfu.org/farmsafety) to find all of the videos that pertain to your operation, and share with your friends, family and neighbors to help prevent farm-related accidents and casualties! You can also order them here on DVD or USB.
USDA Corn Ethanol Report Supports Environmental Benefits of RFS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a report titled “A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol.” The study, prepared by ICF, compares the environmental impact of corn ethanol and gasoline, emphasizing the benefits of the former.
According to the report, in 2014, corn ethanol’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions provided a 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to conventional gasoline. With anticipated engineering efficiencies, the value is expected to approach 50 percent by 2022.
Furthermore, when farmers employ a variety of conservation practices including no-till, cover crops, nitrogen inhibitors, and precision fertilizer applications, corn ethanol provides GHG reductions of up to 76 percent when used in lieu of conventional gasoline.
These values project a greater positive environmental impact from the use of corn-based ethanol than previous studies. ICF attributes this largely to the methods by which increases in ethanol production have been achieved. The anticipated land use change to meet growing demand has been less significant than initially predicted, as have the associated emissions. Instead, intensification on existing cropland has had a greater role in meeting increased demand.
NFU is pleased to see the results of USDA’s report provide further evidence of the environmental benefits of corn ethanol, particularly when coupled with conservation practices. The findings of this study underscore the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other biofuels policies that encourage the agricultural community’s involvement in mitigating climate change.
Craig Watts, North Carolina Poultry Grower
NFU Stands with Contract Growers
Contract farmers raise 97% of the chicken consumed in the United States, but they face unfair challenges and hidden risks under the production contracts that are commonly offered by large corporate firms today.
In December, USDA published the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, also known as the GIPSA rules, as an interim final rule and two proposed rules to help balance the relationships between producers and meat packers in the concentrated livestock and poultry industries. NFU was pleased that the long-awaited rules were finally released.
However, the Trump Administration delayed the effective date and comment periods for the three Farmer Fair Practices Rules. In response, NFU President Roger Johnson said, “Family farmers and ranchers have been waiting on the protections provided by the Farmer Fair Practices Rules for far too long, enduring heavily concentrated markets and the unfair practices associated with lack of competition. After having been delayed and obstructed for the past seven years, it’s time to end the unnecessary delays to the Farmer Fair Practices Rules and allow these basic protections to be finalized.”
There is a common misconception that the Farmer Fair Practices Rules were a “midnight rule” of the Obama Administration. In fact, they are the culmination of nearly a decade of work, having been provided for in the 2008 Farm Bill and undergone the full regulatory process. The USDA went to extensive lengths to ensure public comment was considered and Congress’s intent was realized, only to be blocked by riders stuck on appropriations bills in the middle of the night. Though some have disagreed on the policy, both producers and consumers will benefit from the competitive, transparent markets that these rules will help protect. Consequently, NFU urged the Trump Administration to stand up for family farmers, ranchers, and rural Americans by reviewing and implementing these rules as soon as possible.
Dairy Industry In Need of Support
U.S. dairy producers are facing the business-crippling burden of multi-year price lows. Milk prices have dropped by more than 40 percent in the past two years, and the Dairy Margin Protection Program (DMPP) has not provided the safety net needed to cope with this decline. As a result, additional avenues for direct assistance must be explored to help struggling dairy farmers.
NFU put together an emergency dairy committee in July to address shortcomings of the DMPP and work with Congress and the USDA to propose meaningful adjustments to the dairy farm safety net.
In September, NFU asked Congress to allow the USDA to either respond to the crisis through price support activities or to refund 2015 DMPP premiums, which totaled $73 million. And in October, several lawmakers offered their support, echoing NFU’s request for Congress to provide USDA the necessary scope to provide assistance to the dairy sector.
Last month, NFU’s Board of directors released a resolution calling on Congress to provide the USDA the authority to provide direct assistance to struggling producers, and to refund diary Margin Protection Program premiums.
While the USDA has taken several steps within their existing authority to help dairy producers who are struggling to stay in business – like the announcement that they will again purchase $20 million in cheese – the most meaningful relief will come from Congress providing additional authority.
Member Benefit Highlight: The Working Person’s Store
The Working Person’s Store carries a full lineup of work wear, footwear, outerwear, from many brands including; Carhartt, CAT, Champion, Dickie’s, John Deere, Harley Davidson and many more. NFU members receive 10% off online purchases.
Visit nfu.org/join to become a member and start saving today.
Ben Sokoll, Deb Fester, Kevin Miller, Chris Kircher, and Tom Bryant discuss serious business during the PASA Conference.
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Winter Conference
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) held its 26th Annual “Farming for the Future” Conference from February 1-4 in State College, Pennsylvania. As part of the explorations for expanding Farmers Union Insurance into Pennsylvania, NFU staffers Tom Bryant and Chris Kircher attended the conference. Tom and Chris were joined by Kevin Miller and Deb Fester from QBE Insurance and Ben Sokoll from the Westwood Agency.
The PASA Conference included a multitude of informational sessions and several speakers throughout the four-day event. Attending the conference provided QBE with more information on the insurance needs of farmers in Pennsylvania, particularly for direct-to-consumer producers and producers with diversified operations.
Farmers Union Insurance
Farmers Union Insurance has always been a community-based insurance provider. Founded by Farmers Union leaders in 1945, the company offers personalized, relationship-based service to farmers and rural residents across the Rocky Mountain and upper Midwest states. Last year alone Farmers Union Insurance provided more than 90,000 policies.
In 2005 Farmers Union Insurance was integrated into the Americas division of the international QBE Insurance Group. As part of the QBE family, Farmers Union Insurance continues to offer quality care and protection to policyholders. Together, QBE and Farmers Union work to maintain the Farmers Union brand to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and rural residents know that Farmers Union respects and supports their economic needs and livelihoods.
It is an exciting time for Farmers Union Insurance. By working with QBE, Farmers Union Insurance is poised to expand its offerings to new regions and enhance its product line. New products are ready to be rolled out under the Farmers Union brand that will allow family farmers, ranchers and rural residents to choose a policy that is better tailored for their needs. There are imminent plans to expand the geographic offering of Farmers Union Insurance beyond the current footprint and to further support our Nation’s rural communities.
Looking to get the most out of your insurance policy or know a farmer who is? Remember that by choosing a Farmers Union Insurance product you are supporting your state Farmers Union as well as National Farmers Union’s 114 year old effort to advocate on behalf of the American family farm.
Farmers Union members join for lots of different reasons, but a very fundamental reason is a business reason. They want to get added-value from their membership for their farming operation. In the states where Hasting Mutual Insurance Company operates, the added-value is a very high-quality health insurance partnership that provides many of the insurance products farmers across the country need.
Hastings Mutual provides members top farm insurance products as well as other great coverages including home, auto and commercial insurance. The company operates in six Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Last year alone, the partnership garnered over 500 new memberships in those states.
Know a farmer in one of these six states? Tell them to contact their state farmers union or a Hastings insurance agent in their area to receive discounts on their farm owners policy premium.
Watch the Hastings Mutual/NFU partnership video here.
Visit our website to learn more about your state farmers union. Call Hastings Mutual at 1-800-442-8277 to find an agent near you.