Notes from the MN Farmers Union 6-22-12
Notes from the Minnesota Farmers Union Friday June 21, 2012
MFU “Focus on the Future” Retreat
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) will be holding its second leadership retreat aimed at focusing on the future of farming and rural communities. The retreat will be held at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, June 25-27. “A couple years ago we brought together our Farmers Union leaders and some newer members to discuss the paths needed to keep family farmers and Farmers Union strong. Our first retreat was successful and our second retreat will intensify focusing on the future of farming and Farmers Union,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. During this retreat, attendees will get to look at MFU’s rich heritage as a farm organization; it’s present role for advocating for rural people and rural policy; and will get insight from Don Davis of Forum Communications and Tom Rothman of Minnesota Farm Network as to the ‘why’ and ‘what’ makes rural news, and how it becomes published. Speakers will be exciting and informative and include former WCCO personality Don Shelby, who will be the keynote speaker and will cover issues on the future surrounding conservation; Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, who will address biofuels in rural America and the United States economy; and MFU Legal Counsel Dave Velde of Alexandria, who will provide key points about farm ownership, its legacy, and transitioning the farm to the next generation. MFU thanks the MN CornGrowers and MN Soybean Growers for their sponsorship of this event.
MFU Full Board meets Monday
MFU’s Full Board of Directors made up of county Farmers Union Presidents or Vice-Presidents will meet Monday June 25th in Alexandria at the Arrowwood Retreat Center from 2:30-4:00 p.m. They will hear updates on legislative, membership, financial and other MFU related matters.
Senate passes Farm Bill
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) applauds the U.S. Senate for yesterday passing the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (known as the farm bill) by a vote of 64-35; in addition, MFU thanks Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken for voting in favor of the bill. “MFU is pleased that the Senate was able to work in a bi-partisan manner to pass this piece of legislation that is important to farmers, rural Minnesota and consumers everywhere “said Doug Peterson, President of MFU. “In addition this legislation ensures that farmers have a strong safety net, make reasonable cuts to agriculture, protects conservation and provides help to beginning farmers” added Peterson.
Highlights of the legislation include:
• Direct payments, counter-cyclical payments, and the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE)
program are repealed.
• Total savings achieved by the overall spending in the farm bill total approximately $23 billion.
• Crop insurance is, in general, strengthened from the 2008 Farm Bill. It also includes some limitations and links participation to conservation practices.
• Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) and
Dairy Export Incentives Program (DEIP) are all repealed/allowed to expire and replaced by the Dairy Production Margin Protection Program (DPMPP), which is a margin insurance type program.
• Extends Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship
Program (CSP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
• Includes programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers
MFU will continue working with members of the U.S. House of Representatives as they begin mark-up of their version of the farm bill in July to get a farm bill passed, and then working with both chambers of Congress through a conference committee to complete a bill by the time the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30.
NFU on farm bill amendments
-Sen. Durbin, D-Ill. and Sen. Coburn, R-Okla. amendment #2439 to limit the crop insurance premium subsidy provided to any person or entity with an average gross adjusted income greater than $750,000 passed, 66-33. NFU supported the amendment.
-Sen. Lee, R-Utah amendment #2314 to repeal the Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Stewardship Program failed 38-61. NFU opposed the amendment.
-Sen. Toomey, R-Pa. amendment #2226 to eliminate biorefinery, renewable chemical, and biobased product manufacturing assistance failed, 36-63. NFU opposed the amendment and will score the vote.
Sen. Toomey, R-Pa. amendment #2433 to eliminate the sugar program failed, 46-53. NFU opposed the amendment.
-Sen. Chambliss, R-Ga. amendment #2438 to tie conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance passed, 52-47. NFU supported the amendment.
-Sen. Merkley, D-Ore. amendment #2382 to improve crop insurance products for organic producers and require USDA to publish an annual progress report on organic crop insurance passed, 63-36. NFU supported the amendment.
-Sen. Klobuchar, D-Minn. amendment #2299 to provide for a study on rural transportation issues passed on voice vote. NFU supported the amendment.
-The Senate defeated an NFU-supported amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., (#2310) giving the states authority to label foods containing genetically modified organisms with a 26-73 vote.
MFU President returns from Rome
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson recently returned from Rome, Italy and the World Farmers Organization (WFO) General Assembly. The WFO is an organization that brings together farmers from organizations that represent agriculture and their coops. Farmers from all agricultural sectors across the world gathered to create policies and advocate at a true farmer-level for the improvement of economic and social conditions and for world food security. “What came from the WFO is a general consensus among farmers on international policy that involves trade, access to credit and stability of farm policy,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “If farmers do not have a policy in place, someone else will make decisions on farm and food policy that does not represent true solutions of advancing the role of farmers in the world. The WFO was formed to defend the rights of farmers, and to provide a solution for food security of developing and developed nations. It was a privilege to be a voting delegate representing Minnesota farmers and National Farmers Union.” Objectives of the WFO:
- improve farmers livelihoods and the viability of rural communities around the world;
- contribute to global food security be facilitating cooperation between the associated organizations;
- facilitate the organization of agricultural producers and enable them to improve their position in the food chain;
- promote and protect other agriculture-related activities, such as forestry, aquaculture, environment, trade research and education;
- encourage farmers’ involvement in sustainable rural development, the environment and new emerging challenges, such as climate change; and
- improve farmers’ access to natural resources and address productivity improvements.
NFU on oil preserve
NFU President Roger Johnson sent a letter recently to leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing concern regarding the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012. “NFU members are concerned that the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012 calls for a plan to increase domestic petroleum and natural gas upon drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SRP),” said Johnson. “We view this as a means to discourage use of the SPR for its intended purposes. We instead support continued development of renewable energy as our main priority in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Domestically produced renewable fuels are good not only for farmers, but also for consumers. For example, ethanol produced by American farmers and ranchers already saves consumers nearly $1 per gallon.”
Farmers Market comes to Capitol
A new farmers market with approximately 30 vendors is set to open next week near the Minnesota State Capitol. The Capitol Farmers Market is a satellite of the St. Paul Farmers Market and is expected draw hundreds of state employees with offices in and around the Capitol complex. Hours for the market, which is open to the public, will be 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. every Friday from June 29 through September 28. The Capitol Farmers Market will feature plenty of fresh produce, including a wide variety of greens, fruits and vegetables for Capitol complex employees to purchase just in time for weekend cooking at home or at the cabin. Vendors will also offer meats, flowers and other products for sale throughout the summer growing season and into the fall. Minnesota Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon says the market will provide state employees better access to fresh, healthy food. “I’m pleased to welcome the vendors and shoppers to the Capitol Farmers Market this season,” said Prettner Solon. “It will offer more locally grown, healthy foods to employees and the public and more marketing opportunities for Minnesota’s farmers.” The Capitol Farmers Market will be located along Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard directly south of the State Capitol.
NFU Women’s retreat
Seven Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) women will be attending the National Farmers Union Women’s Conference in Bailey, Colorado from June 20-24, and they are: Heidi Svingen of Benson, Janet Lundebrek of Benson, Lourdes Flores Hanson of Woodbury, Patricia Kasella of Royalton, Linda Larson of Rosemount, Pat Irrthum of Wanamingo, and MFU Communications Director Katie Fitzsimmons. “Minnesota Farmers Union is very proud to have such an exceptional group of Farmers Union women heading to Colorado to represent Minnesota at this leadership conference,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union. The conference objective is to provide participants with tools and information to confidently manage risks in their farm or ranch operations. This will be done with a variety of trained instructors teaching family farm finances, budgeting and cash flow, cooperatives, marketing, farm transfer and estate planning, business planning, leadership assessment and skills, generational issues, and action planning.
MFU camps underway!
MFU camps got underway this week with the northern elementary camp in Erskine at Lake Sarah. Next week is the southern elementary camp near Spicer. Check out http://mfu.org/education#fragment-7 for more information or registration on upcoming leadership and day camps.
MFU Golf event
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) Foundation is having their 5th annual golf benefit for Lake Sarah and Farmers Union youth programs. The golf benefit will be at Oak Lake golf course in Erskine on July 19 at 12:30 p.m. This year, golfers will also have an opportunity to see what their generous donations have been used for at an open house at Lake Sarah. “This golf benefit has helped Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation improve member and youth education efforts as well as providing improvements to the Lake Sarah educational campground,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Lake Sarah is a Farmers Union treasure and a place where thousands of kids have learned about agriculture and cooperatives, made lasting friendships, and life-long memories at our leadership camp.” Start time for the two-person scramble is 12:30 p.m. with a cost of $35 for 9 holes and $45 for 18 holes; fees also include a meal at the Lake Sarah campground. Prizes will be awarded with proceeds going toward Farmers Union youth camps and activities at Lake Sarah. Non-golfers can purchase dinner for $15, and child care is available. To register for golf, sign up for child care, inquire about sponsorships or any other questions, contact MFU field representative Ken Pazdernik, 218.206.4499 or email@example.com. All donations are tax deductible.
That’s all for now as usual, questions, comments and complaints to me!
Thom Petersen, Director of Government Relations, MN Farmers Union