NFU Urges President Trump to Stay in Paris Agreement
This week, NFU President Roger Johnson sent President Trump a letter, urging him to maintain the United States’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, an international framework to address climate change.
In his first 100 days as president, Donald Trump has already made a number of changes to U.S. environmental policy, including a reversal of Obama-era regulations intended to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. In the past, he has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, although it is unclear whether he will follow through. He is expected to make a decision by the end of May.
Climate change, by severely altering average temperatures and weather patterns, jeopardizes American food security and the livelihoods of American family farmers, ranchers and rural residents. The Paris Agreement is vital to enhancing the climate resiliency of family farm operations and rural communities, and it allows family farmers and ranchers to join carbon sequestration efforts that stimulate economic growth in rural America.
On Tuesday, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced it would yet again delay the implementation of the Farmer Fair Practices interim final rule until October 19. It was previously scheduled to take effect on April 22.
The rule, a “competitive injury” provision, deals with the unreasonable burden that for growers to claim abusive practices under the Packers and Stockyards Act, they must prove that harm was done to the entire industry rather than harm to themselves. This commonsense rule plainly restates the intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act-to protect individual producers from abusive practices by packers or integrators.
In a press release, USDA cited the need for “ample time for stakeholders to review the effects” of the rules on their operations as well as “maximum opportunity for dialogue across every segment of the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.”
NFU recognizes that the administration wishes to consider the rule comprehensively, but farmers and ranchers have been waiting for these common sense rules for more than a decade. As the agency yet again delays the rule for further consideration, farmers and ranchers will suffer in the meanwhile.
NFU President Roger Johnson at NDSU’s Farm Bill Conference
The conference brought together Congressmen, industry leaders, experts, and clientele groups to discuss farm policy and the anticipated 2018 Farm Bill, particularly the commodities program, crop insurance, conservation, and trade.
NFU President Roger Johnson moderated the first panel, “Farm Policy and What to Expect in 2018 Farm Bill.” The panel comprised of Senator John Hoven and his Sate Ag Specialist, Tom Brusegaad, as well as Senator Heidi Heitkamp and her legislative assistant, Justin Hanson. Johnson led the four participants in a discussion about what worked in the 2014 Farm Bill, what could be changed in the future, and whether there is a need for a new farm policy.
In the afternoon, NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew moderated a panel on conservation and trade. The panel included Levi Otis of Ellingson Companies; Daryl Lies, President of North Dakota Farm Bureau; Neal Fisher, Administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission; and Dean Gorder, Executive Director of North Dakota Trade Office. They addressed resource and environmental concerns, the status and impact of existing free trade agreements, and the possibility of additional multi-lateral trade agreements.
Dairy Farmers Dropped by Processors
Last week, dairy farmers in Wisconsin and New York were informed that, in less than a month, their processors, including Grassland Dairy Products and Nasonville Dairy, would no longer be purchasing their milk. If those affected are unable to find another market for their products, they may be forced to shut down their operations. This is especially concerning as U.S. dairy producers are already experiencing multi-year price lows and an inadequate safety net.
The reason for this decision stems from Canadian trade policy. For the past several years, Canada had imported ultra-filtered milk duty free from the U.S. However, in response to opposition from Canadian dairy farmers, many provinces have implemented import taxes to decrease the quantity of U.S. dairy in the Canadian market. Several American Congressmen are arguing that this move violates trade agreements.
NFU has advocated for short-term solutions for the issues American dairy farmers endure, including direct assistance and a refund of the 2015 Margin Protection Program premiums, as well as long-term solutions, such as a safety net contained in the farm bill. In the meantime, however, NFU encourages farmers to ensure their contracts with their processors prevent unjustified termination.
Two NFU members wrote op-eds about the issue, which you can read here and here.
Farming Beyond Borders
Beatrice Wakwabubi, a Kenyan farmer with Farm Africa’s Growing Futures initiative, and Jean Lam, a member of National Farmers Union who works a no-till operation in Oklahoma, may seem to have little in common. But like many farmers in today’s uncertain climate, both women find that financing, rising costs and land access were among their main concerns.
Read more about Beatrice and Jean and their commonalities in this interview with Farming First.
March for Science & People’s Climate March
We hope you can join us in DC this month for two very exciting events.
On April 22, we will be joining the March for Science, a call for politicians to implement science based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and our daily lives. The rally will feature main stage speakers, including NFU President Roger Johnson, and several large teach-in tents around the Mall where scientists, educators, and leaders from a wide variety of disciplines will discuss their work, effective science communication strategies, and training in public advocacy. Click here to register, or if you can’t make to D.C., there are a number of satellite marches across the country.
A week later, on April 29, we’ll be at the People’s Climate March to show the world and U.S. leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet. For more information and registration, click here, or find a sister march near you.
You can find more information about both events on NFU’s website.
Save the Date: 2017 Growing for the Future Conference
Mark your calendars! NFU’s beginning farmer & rancher online virtual conference, Growing for the Future, is scheduled for December 4-7, 2017.
Growing for the Future is a unique online, interactive virtual conference focused on beginning farmer and rancher issues, including mentorship, business planning, USDA programs women and veterans in farming, conservation and much more!
New on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column: Women in Agriculture
NFU Director of Education Melissa Miller knows firsthand the challenges of being a female farmer, not just because she works with women in agriculture, but also because she is one.
Although women are becoming more prominent in American agriculture every year, they still face many challenges that men typically do not. Even so, nearly a million women are changing the face of farming with their innovative ideas and hard work.
New on the NFU Climate Column: Riparian Forest Buffers
Prescribed grazing is “the controlled harvest of vegetation with grazing animals, managed with the intent to achieve a specific objective.” Farmers can achieve this by regulating the frequency and intensity of grazing or browsing, as well as the density and placement of livestock.
This practice offers a variety of conservation benefits, including enhanced soil and water quality, decreased risk of soil erosion, increased capacity for carbon sequestration, and improved wildlife habitat. At the same time, it can save farmers money, energy, and resources while also improving yields and animal health.
NFU Urges Swift Confirmation of Perdue as Ag Secretary
WASHINGTON (March 23, 2017) –
Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue appeared before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee for the confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Urging a speedy confirmation vote of Mr. Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:
“If confirmed, Sonny Perdue will be stepping into a position of great importance within this administration. To this point, agriculture and rural America have not had a seat at the table in this administration.
Trump Executive Order Reverses American Climate Change Progress
WASHINGTON (March 28, 2017) – In a sweeping and regressive executive order on energy, President Donald Trump reversed years of progress in the U.S.-led fight against climate change. The order dismantles critical Obama-era policies that prepare the United States to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Climate change jeopardizes American food security and the livelihoods of American family farmers, ranchers and rural residents,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “This executive order sends a very clear message to Americans and the rest of the world that our country will not lead the global effort to curtail climate change. It also stems any further progress the United States can collectively make to thwart the severe effects of climate change.”
WASHINGTON (March 24, 2017) – Unable to gain adequate support for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Congressional leadership withdrew the bill today. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response:
“Today’s decision to pull the American Health Care Act highlights a host of concerns the American people have with this failed legislation. The AHCA would have had serious negative impacts on millions of people’s access to affordable health insurance coverage, particularly family farmers, ranchers and rural citizens. As such, NFU applauds the withdrawal of the bill.
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.
NFU Urges Trump Administration to Consider Farmers Before Agribusiness Mergers
Extreme concentration in the agribusiness sector has long threatened the wellbeing of farmers and ranchers. A recent wave of consolidation in the agricultural inputs sector has farmers particularly on edge, with three major proposed mergers: Dow-Dupont, Bayer-Monsanto and ChemChina-Syngenta. If all three are approved, it would limit major players in the agrichemical and seed sectors to just four companies. The resulting reduction in concentration would decrease innovation, increase input costs, and limit choice for farmers.
In January, NFU was alarmed when then-President-elect Donald Trump met with Bayer AG, a German agricultural input company. During that meeting, the two parties struck a deal, committing Bayer to invest $8 billion towards research and development, should the company be permitted to acquire competitor Monsanto Co. This deal suggesed the administration’s tacit approval of the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would occur at the expense of family farmers and ranchers. Additionally, the timing of this meeting was troublesome, as it occurred before the President-elect had selected his nominee for Secretary of Agriculture. This left many concerned that after inauguration, President Trump would continue to prioritize the needs of agribusiness over those of rural communities.
Similarly, NFU was worried by last month’s approval of the proposed merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. by the European Union, and urged the Trump administration to block the deal. The merger of Dow and DuPont, the 4th and 5th largest firms, would give the resulting company about 41% of the market for corn seeds and 38% of the market for soybean seeds. If the Dow-DuPont and Bayer-Monsanto mergers were both approved, there would effectively be a duopoly in the corn and soybean seed markets.
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, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (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, in February, 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.” In April, USDA delayed the implementation of the interim final rule yet again, from April 22 until October 19.
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, in March, NFU President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, advocating for the expedient adoption of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules.
Trump Administration Neglects Rural Communities
In mid-March, President Trump issued his fiscal year 2018 federal budget blueprint, calling for a drastic reduction in spending on agriculture- and rural-related agencies and programs.
Among his recommendations is a $4.7 billion cut to USDA, which equates to a 21 percent drop for programs that serve rural and farming communities across the U.S. This huge cut to discretionary spending puts rural development, food safety, conservation and research programs on the chopping block. Additionally, the blueprint provides for a $2.6 billion cut to EPA funding. This 31 percent drop guts the agency’s ability to provide essential environmental services and pesticide approval.
Family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring the worst farm economy in well over a decade as well as an inadequate safety net that is hamstrung by $23 billion in budget cuts. Further cuts to agencies and programs that provide support to agriculture and rural communities will compound the difficulties farmers endure, particularly during the current farm crisis. These cuts and the message they send to rural America are deeply disappointing.
To compound these concerns, President Donald Trump failed to mention the words ‘rural,’ ‘farm,’ or ‘agriculture’ in his address to a joint session of Congress in February, even though he touched on a number of subjects that will both directly and indirectly affect American farmers and ranchers. NFU released a statement in response, expressing dismay about the President’s stance on trade, immigration, and healthcare.
The President’s plans to replace the “current system of lower-skilled immigration” has many farmers and ranchers on edge, as it neglects the unique and important contribution of immigrant laborers to our national food system and rural economies. Farmers are similarly concerned about the proposed changes in national health insurance policy. Notably, motions to cut support to Medicaid would disproportionately affect farmers and ranchers, a population that is older than average.
To this point, the president has put the needs of rural America and agriculture on the backburner, and, in many cases, on the chopping block. If the President intends to be a champion for all Americans, he must consider the real and lasting impacts of his policy agenda and budget on rural America and family farmers and ranchers.
Member Benefit Highlight: Small Farm Central
Small Farm Central provides technology solutions to support CSA member management, online sales, website development, and marketing tools. NFU members receive a 10% discount for website services, the CSA Member Assembler program and FarmFan Services.
Visit nfu.org/join to become a member and start saving today.
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.
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.