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NFU E-News
Issue 319 ~ April 20, 2017
Government Relations Education News Releases
Membership Calendar Price Barometer
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Johnson Presented with John Lee Coulter Award

Last week, North Dakota State University's (NDSU) Agribusiness Club presented NFU President Roger Johnson with its annual John Lee Coulter Award, which is given to an individual who has distinguished themself in the agriculture industry. 
 
Like the award's namesake, Johnson is an alumnus of NDSU, once known as North Dakota Agricultural College. During his time as a student, he served as president of the Agribusiness Club, and, in fact, presented the John Lee Coulter Award to Stanley Moore, who served as NFU's vice president from 1980-1987.
Organic Checkoff Comment Period Closes
On April 19, the Federal Register's public comment period for the Organic Research, Promotion, and Information Orderproposed rule closed. Over 11,000 public comments were submitted.
 
If finalized, the proposed rule would establish an organic checkoff program intended to educate consumers, fund research, and promote organic products. Producers, handlers, and importers who meet the threshold $250,000 of gross organic sales per year would be required to participate in the program, contributing one tenth of one percent of net organic sales. Others who do not meet the threshold can choose to opt in  and would therefore be able to vote in the referendum determining whether or not the checkoff should exist. Roughly two-thirds of organic farmers would need to voluntarily be assessed in order to vote in the referendum.
 
The proposed rule has had a mixed reception among farmers and industry groups. Unlike other checkoff programs that represent a single industry with a relatively unified goal, organic producers are often more diverse in operation size and type.  NFU weighed in with comments in opposition to the board composition, referendum eligibility, administrative cap, regulatory burden, and the allocation of resources. You can read NFU's comments here.
 
In the following weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review the received comments and edit the proposal as they see fit. To implement the amended proposal, they will then require the approval of the majority of certified organic assessed entities in the United States.
NOSB to Determine Status of Hydroponics
One of the primary tenets of organic agriculture is the commitment to soil health. Though the principle seems more than reasonable, it has put the organic status of soilless hydroponic operations at risk.

This week at its semi-annual meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will determine whether the definition of organic can include hydroponics and other soil-free agricultural endeavors. More than 100 hydroponic farms in the United States could be affected by the decision.

Much of the opposition to certification of hydroponics appears to come from within the organic community. The Cornucopia Institute, who last year filed a complaint against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the organic certification of hydroponics, released a statement suggesting that "few beyond the hydro producers, their lobbyists, and their certifiers believe these products should actually be certified organic...there is no consumer outcry for hydroponics." Other organization are not so strict in their stance; the Organic Trade Association has requested amendments to the definitions of "hydroponics" and "organic" before making a final decision.
March for Science & People's Climate March
We hope you can join us in DC this month for two very exciting events.

This Sunday, 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.
Then next week, 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!

Click here for more information.
New on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column: Slow Money
Beginning farmers often have a hard time finding the capital they need. Obtaining a traditional loan generally requires good credit, proof of ability to repay the loan, as well as collateral, which beginning producers may not have.

Jimmy Dula, NFU intern and beginning farmer, has experienced the difficulty of accessing capital firsthand. Instead of seeking out a traditional loan, he turned to Slow Money, an organization that facilitates agricultural investments. Slow Money offers no or low interest loans to food producers, and operates within a relationship-based, rather than asset-based, lending structure.
Check out this post about slow money on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column. You can also join the Beginning Farmer Forum for more on the conversation!
New on the NFU Climate Column: Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
Keeping farmland in production can secure important climate benefits, such as increasing carbon sequestration, improving water quality, buffering sprawl development that produces GHGs, and bolstering local food security.

However, with increasing development pressure, it can be difficult for farmers and ranchers to keep land in production. the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) can help producers and communities both protect farm and grazing land from development as well as achieve associated environmental benefits.
Check out this post about ACEP on the NFU Climate Column. You can also join the NFU Climate Leaders Facebook group for more on the conversation!
Newsreleases
NFU Urges Trump Administration to Stay in Paris Agreement

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2017) -  
As President Donald Trump weighs the merits of keeping the United States in the Paris Agreement, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to maintain U.S. commitments to global leadership on climate change. 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.

The President is expected to make a decision on whether to stay in the Paris Agreement by late May. NFU has been an adamant proponent of the agreement since its adoption in 2015.
Read more in the NFU press release.
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."
Read more in the NFU press release.
NFU Applauds Withdrawal of AHCA

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.

Read more in the NFU press release.
Education
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.

The short videos are on these farm safety topics:
  1. General Safety
  2. Power Take-Off
  3. Roll-Over Protection
  4. ATVs
  5. Grain Bins & Augers
  6. Livestock Handling
  7. Transporting Equipment
  8. Handling Chemicals
  9. Electrical Safety
  10. Behavioral Hazards & Child Safety
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.
govrelations
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.
Membership
Member Benefit Highlight: Sow True Seed

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 nfu.org/join to become a member and start saving today.
Visit nfu.org/benefits for a complete listing of all NFU membership benefits.
Call a Doctor 24/7 with Telemedicine
 
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.

To learn more, visit www.careington.com/co/nfu or call (877) 376-8958.
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 Insurance - A QBE Group Partner
Hastings Mutual Partnership

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.
PricebarometerFarmer's Share Price Barometer

March 2017
 
                           Commodity                            Current        Parity           % of
                           Crops                                        Price             Price            Parity              
Barley (bushel) $5.20 $14.30 36
Corn (bushel)  $3.44 $13.00 26
Cotton, Upland (pound) $0.686 $1.93 36
Flaxseed (bushel) $7.86 $33.10 24
Oats (bushel) $2.40 $8.43 28
Peanuts (pound) $0.198 $0.664 30
Rice (cwt) $9.81 $39.50 25
Sorghum Grain (cwt) $5.01 $22.20 23
Soybeans (bushel) $9.86 $31.50 31
Wheat (bushel) $4.15 $17.70 23
 
Livestock
     
Cattle (cwt) $119.00 $320.00 37
Hogs (cwt) $54.40 $162.00 34
 
Dairy/Poultry
     
Eggs, (dozen) $0.623 $2.94 22
Milk, All (cwt) $18.50 $51.90 37
 
~Parity prices reflect February 2017 NASS prices 
 
Taken from "Agricultural Prices," USDA/NASS. 
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