Health Care Bill Scrapped, Conservation Coalition’s Farm Bill Recommendations, EPA Proposes Lowering RFS Obligations

Health Care Bill Scrapped, Conservation Coalition’s Farm Bill Recommendations, EPA Proposes Lowering RFS Obligations

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NFU E-News
Issue 342 ~ September 28, 2017

Health Care Debate Tabled – For Now

On Tuesday, after three key Senators voiced opposition, U.S. Senate leadership announced they would not hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. The bill was the chamber’s last opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with just 50 votes required through budget reconciliation. Should they take up reform efforts through regular order, it would require the usual 60 votes, meaning they will need bipartisan support to pass legislation.

The bill, put forth by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would have dismantled the federal health care system, replacing it with per capita block grant funding to the states in 2020. States would have been responsible for devising and implementing their own health care system, using block grant funding for high-risk pools, marketplace stabilization, payments to providers, premium subsidies, assistance in purchasing health benefits, and/or wrap around coverage.

NFU was relieved to see this legislation scrapped. Should it have passed, it would have destabilized individual marketplaces, caused millions to lose coverage, and weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. At the same time, dramatic cuts to health care funding would have made it all but impossible for states to prevent rising premiums and rural hospital closures.
Instead of this flawed legislation, NFU will continue to urge Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that offers all Americans access to affordable and quality health care.
Read more in the NFU release.

Conservation Coalition Makes Farm Bill Recommendations

NFU joined a coalition of 20 farm, food, wildlife, and environmental organizations in establishing principles and recommendations to strengthen the 2018 Farm Bill’s conservation title.
The farm bill’s conservation title programs provide farmers with technical and financial assistance to implement practices that conserve natural resources, protect wildlife, improve soil, water and air quality, and enhance on-farm sustainability. As temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common, these programs are increasingly critical to ensure the future of American agriculture.
The coalition’s recommendations, which were sent to congressional agriculture committees this week, call for a farm bill that ensures farmers and ranchers can both increase the productivity and sustainability of their operations and have access to a variety of tools they can choose from to conserve, manage, and enhance shared natural resources. Among the specific requests were adequate funding, increased flexibility, improved conservation benefits, and strengthened accountability of program outcomes. The letter also included specific asks for individual programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Read the full letter here and learn more in the NFU release.

EPA Proposes Lower Renewable Fuel Obligations

On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Notice of Data Availability(NODA) proposing a reduced renewable fuel volume obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The RFS, which sets a minimum volume of renewable fuel to be blended into the U.S. transportation fuel supply, is the nation’s preeminent policy for encouraging the production and development of American grown and produced transportation fuels. However, the minimum volume has waned in recent years, and the latest proposal would decrease it further, from 19.24 billion gallons to 18.77 billion gallons.
Given the numerous benefits offered by renewable fuels, NFU was disappointed by this proposal. Renewable fuels not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they also provide low cost, high-performance options at the pump, offer economic stability for American farmers, create new well-paying jobs in rural communities, generate millions of dollars of new tax base, and contribute to energy sovereignty. By decreasing the quantity of renewable fuels obligated to be blended into the American fuel supply, the EPA’s proposal undermines the intent of the RFS at the detriment of American consumers, family farmers, rural communities, and the environment.
Once the NODA is published in the Federal Register, the EPA will accept public comments on the proposal. Once the 15-day comment period opens, NFU will submit further input to ensure the RFS continues to be an economic and environmental success story.
Read more in the NFU release.
How to Help Those Affected by Hurricanes
Millions of Americans, including farmers and ranchers, have been devastated by hurricanes and extreme weather. If you want to help, or if you need assistance, NFU has compiled a preliminary list of resources:
  • The Texas Tribune put together a comprehensive list of organizations, charities, and other resources for Hurricane Harvey victims and those who want to help.
  • Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund helps farm families recover from weather-related disasters. They are currently assisting farmers in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
  • The State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund is collecting & distributing funds for farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters.
  • Barnraiser will distribute money raised through their Texas Farmer Rancher Disaster Relief fund to help farmers and ranchers affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Puerto Rico
  • To help Puerto Rico farmers, donate seeds, tools, and financial assistance here.
  • For more general assistance for Puerto Rico, The New York Times featured a comprehensive list of charities.

Bring Back COOL

American producers raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from. Country-Of-Origin-Labeling (COOL) provides that basic and essential information.
Mandatory COOL, first passed in 2002 and then again in 2008, required that muscle cuts of meat and some vegetables, nuts and fruits sold at retail must contain a label informing consumers about the country where the product was sourced. Though the law had overwhelming support from consumers and producers alike, Congress repealed it in December 2015 after complaints from trade partners.
Without COOL, domestic ranchers and farmers tend to receive lower prices for their goods because multinational companies can import and misleadingly label meat rather than pay U.S. producers for their products.
Want to bring back COOL? Sign the petition to tell Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross that this administration’s trade policies must protect American producers and consumers by providing clear and accurate information.

Share Your Input on Food and Ag Priorities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is accepting input on research, extension, and education priorities in food and agriculture.
If you would like to share your thoughts, you can share them online  here or email them to [email protected] by December 1. NIFA will also be holding in-person listening sessions in Kansas City, Missouri, Atlanta, Georgia, Sacramento, California, and Hyattsville, Maryland. At those sessions, individuals will be able to make five minute oral presentations. If you are interested in doing so, submit an input form by October 12.
Learn more here.

Register Today for Our Growing for the Future Online Conference

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! Speakers from Farmer Veteran Coalition, National Young Farmers Coalition, USDA Farm Service Agency, and Female Farmer Project will headline the event.
This year’s conference, which will be held from December 4-7, includes farmer-to-farmer webinars, live Q&A sessions, a discussion board, a resource center, and giveaways and prizes!
Learn more about Growing for the Future here, and register for free here.

Save the Date: NFU’s Women’s Conference

NFU’s 2018 Women’s Conference theme is “Women in Leadership.” Women have been leading in agriculture for many years, and NFU hopes to build on this idea throughout the conference.
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 important tools that will help set their operations up for a future of success.
We are very excited about the conference and hope you can join us January 14-18, 2018 in San Diego, California! Learn more about the event here and register here.
New on the NFU Blog

Friday Farm Fact: Farmers Receive Less Than Sixteen Cents of the American Food Dollar

For generations, family farmers and ranchers have provided the essential service of growing nutritious, safe, and tasty food for our country and countries around the world. But farmers only receive 15.6 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food. The rest of the food dollar – more than 80 percent – goes to off-farm costs, like marketing, processing, wholesaling, and distribution. This number is particularly troubling considering the fact that net farm income has plummeted in recent years. This year, median farm household income is projected to be negative $1,400, meaning many farmers will actually lose money.
Read more about the farm economy and the farmer’s share of the American food dollar in this blog post, then view this short farmer’s share video made in collaboration with Farmers Restaurant Group and George Washington University Sustainability Institute. The video is the first in a series of Friday Farm Facts that will be posted on all three organizations’ social media accounts in following weeks. Stay up to date for future facts with the hashtag #FridayFarmFact.
NFU in the News
How to keep consumers into ‘organic’? Industry tries to answer that question without USDA
Jenny Hopkinson – Politico
Rural hospitals are on a ‘shoestring budget’
Doug Sombke – Argus Leader
Breaking stereotypes: Platteville farmer encourages other women to get involved in ag industry

Katarian Velazquez – The Tribune

Groups seek changes in conservation, crop insurance incentives
Philip Brasher – Agri-Pulse
Strong safety net needed in next farm bill, ag groups agree
Victoria Lusk – Farm Forum
Town hall meeting addresses NAFTA issues
Sara Bredesen – The Country Today
Farmer-owned restaurant sprouts in King of Prussia
Rachel Vigoda – Eater Philadelphia
Limos, not tractors
Chuck Collins – U.S. News & World Report
State Convention Schedule
HawaiiOctober 6-8, 2017Oahu, HI
NorthwestOctober 14, 2017Walla Walla, WA
MontanaOctober 21-22, 2017Great Falls, MT
IndianaNovember 18, 2017TBD
Rocky MountainNovember 17-18, 2017Denver, CO
MinnesotaNovember 17-19, 2017Minneapolis, MN
IowaNovember 30-December 1, 2017Greenfield, IA
South DakotaNovember 30-December 1, 2017Huron, SD
KansasDecember 1-2, 2017Emporia, KS
MissouriDecember 2, 2017TBD
New EnglandTBDTBD
NebraskaDecember 8-9, 2017Grand Island, NE
North DakotaDecember 15-16, 2017Bismarck, ND
TexasJanuary 26-27, 2018Abilene, TX
OhioJanuary 27-28, 2018TBD
WisconsinFebruary 2-4, 2018Wisconsin Dells, WI
PennsylvaniaFebruary 8, 2018State College, PA
OklahomaFebruary 16-18, 2018Norman, OK
Member Benefit Highlight: Sow True Seeds
Sow True Seeds provides a broad selection of premium quality vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, bulbs & tubers, and cover crop varieties. The seeds come from a network of skilled regional growers and independently owned North American seed producers. Their seeds are open pollinated, with many heirloom and organic seed varieties to choose from. NFU members receive 10% off.
Visit to become a member and start saving today.

Visit for a complete listing of all NFU membership benefits.

What is Teladoc?
Watch this short video to learn more about Teladoc.
National Farmers Union and Sprint have teamed up to bring you discounted cell service!
The best value in wireless just got even better. As an NFU member you are now eligible for savings up to 15% off of your monthly bill and up to 20% off select Sprint products
when purchased through a Sprint retailer. Both new and current Sprint users can take advantage of these terrific savings.
Visit Sprint and use the “upload” option to upload your membership card and start saving!

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.
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.

Learn more about Farmers Union Insurance – A QBE Group Partner.

Hastings Mutual Partnership

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.


Health Care Bill Scrapped, Conservation Coalition’s Farm Bill Recommendations, EPA Proposes Lowering RFS Obligations

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