The National Farmers Union is holding its 110th Anniversary Convention in La Vista, Nebraska. A main topic of discussion was the next farm bill. During his annual "State of the Farmers Union" address, NFU President Roger Johnson said this is a critical year for agriculture as we work to complete the 2012 Farm Bill. Jonson told NFU members that they must continue working to ensure the next farm bill benefits family farmers and ranchers. He added that it will be challenging to get everything agriculture needs in this budget environment.
More than 500 Farmers Union members from across the country also had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions on topics such as using charitable donations to create tax savings, beginning farmers and ranchers, dairy, and the Market-Driven Inventory System.
Johnson noted the convention is where our members pass this organization’s grassroots policy, so it is important to ensure that they are fully informed on what is going on so they are able to make educated choices about what we will advocate for in the coming year.
Secretary, Legislators Addresses NFU Convention
Addressing members of the National Farmers Union in La Vista, Nebraska Monday, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterated his call saying that we’ve got to have a farm bill this year.
"There is no question we need a safety net," Vilsack said. "Farming is tough. You can be a perfect farmer and still have a bad year. We must have a reliable safety net and it starts with crop insurance. We need a healthy commitment to crop insurance.
During the meeting, Representative Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, described a new dairy policy that would take the volatility out of the dairy market and provide a safety net for small dairies. Also addressing the group was Nebraska Representative Jeff Fortenberry.
NFU Unveils Phase II, MDIS Study
NFU unveiled Phase II of its study on the Market-Driven Inventory System during the convention. The study found that over the next ten years, farmers and ranchers would receive a slightly higher income under MDIS than under current policies, while the federal government would spend approximately 40% of what it would if current policies were extended.
The study estimated that current policies would cost a total of $65 billion, while MDIS policies would cost $26 billion from 2012 to 2020. Johnson points out that MDIS would provide a significant cost savings to taxpayers while maintaining current levels of income for farmers and ranchers. He said it would also help reduce the wild price swings and it would benefit so many Americans.
Johnson points out that farmers are entering a potentially dangerous period when it comes to the farm safety net. In Washington, we are seeing a ‘cut first, ask questions later’ attitude which will cause harm to the farm safety net and take away some of the protections that family farmers and ranchers need.
NFU Members Meet Challenge
Last year, Howard Buffett challenged National Farmers Union members to donate $50,000 to Feeding America, and pledged to match every dollar donated through Farmers Union, up to that amount. This year Buffet presented NFU with a check for more than 55-thousand dollars at the opening night of its 110th Anniversary Convention in LaVista, Nebraska. According to Feeding America, 37 million Americans do not get enough to eat, including one-fourth of all children.
Johnson says as family farmers, ranchers, and rural community members, we are very well aware that many people, both in the United States and around the world, often go to bed hungry at night, and that’s a big concern for us. Farmers Union members really stepped up to meet Howard Buffett’s challenge and showed they really care about the less fortunate among us.