Notes from the MN Farmers Union 11-22-11
Notes from the Minnesota Farmers Union Tuesday November 22, 2011
70th annual convention completed, Peterson, Wertish re-elected
MFU President Doug Peterson and Vice-President Gary Wertish were re-elected by acclamation at the 70th annual MFU state convention held last weekend in Mpls. Despite what seems to be annual terrible weather, MFU saw a great turnout of delegates, alternates, and friends of MFU. Delegates considered by-law, resolution, and special orders, and heard from speakers including MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Dr. Bill Hartmann, State Veterinarian. MFU delegates also heard from NRCS State Conservationist Don Baloun and Brian Jennings from the American Coalition for Ethanol, they also participated in a question and answer period. Senator Amy Klobuchar and NFU President Roger Johnson also spoke at the banquet. MFU thanks the many sponsors for their contribution to this year’s very successful convention.
MFU had a great slate of candidates running for delegate to the National Farmers Union convention this year to be held March 4-7th in Omaha, Nebraska. The delegates and alternates elected were: District 1
Delegate; Alton Walker, Alternate; Alan Perish. District 2; Ted Winter, Alternate; Ross Eischens, District 3; Delegate, Lee Johnston, Alternate, Mark Thell, District 4; Delegate, Pat Irrthum, Alternate, John Larson. For more information on the National convention checkout: http://www.nfu.org/events/2012-convention
MFU passed five “Special Orders of Business” at the convention; The first was in support of re-instating the Homestead Market Value Credit, the second was opposition to proposed revisions and updates to U.S. Child Labor Laws pertaining to children and agriculture, the third was Farm bill recommendations, the fourth was opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a ‘super majority” of the Minnesota legislature to raise certain taxes, and the fifth was a resolution in support of current federal renewable energy fuel standards. The complete special orders will be in the December issue of Minnesota Agriculture.
Delegates to the State convention considered about 60 changes to the MFU policy statement this convention. Among the changes were opposing patenting of livestock, support for the Carl Perkins Act (which funds career and technical education programs), opposition to shifting education funds to balance the state budget, support for full funding of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), support for making watershed boards elected positions, support for continuing the operation of state forestry tree nurseries, and many other changes. A complete and up to date policy statement will be available to members in the January edition of Minnesota Agriculture.
During the banquet held Saturday night, MFU honored Red River Farm Network farm broadcaster Mike Hergert with its award for outstanding agricultural reporting. MFU also posthumously awarded the excellence in membership and policy award to Tim Henning of Nobles County, Alan and Karen Perish received the outstanding leadership award, and the John Borden family of Crow Wing County received the Lifetime Family Achievement Award. In addition MFU honored retiring field representative Wendell Bakker for his long service to MFU.
Super Committee Fails, farm bill changes in doubt
Senate agriculture committees said Monday that they've finally reached a proposal that would cut $23 million out of the 2012 farm bill, but it isn't likely to see the light of day any time soon. The new legislation, one of the nation's most significant bills, was scheduled to be submitted to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, without debate or public comment. The specially formed committee, assigned to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion in the next 10 years, was scheduled to issue a budget recommendation on Wednesday that would have been put to an up-or-down vote with no amendments, no House blocks and no filibusters. But the super committee, made up of six senators and six House members from both parties, failed to reach a deal. So the farm bill proposal is being scuttled. Congress will have to start over next year. The 2008 farm bill expires Sept. 30, 2012. Stay tuned.
MFU President, member featured in KSTP story
MFU President Doug Peterson and Kanabec County Farmers Union member Stacy Ripka were featured in a story that ran last week on KSTP-TV regarding the proposed U.S. Labor changes to child labor laws pertaining to agriculture, check it out here: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s2374337.shtml
NFU on COOL ruling
NFU was generally pleased with last week’s ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which found that Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL) is allowable under WTO rules. The labeling law was passed as a part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and amended in 2008. COOL requires retailers to notify their customers of the source of certain foods. After the ruling was announced, NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement: “We are pleased that WTO agreed that COOL is allowable in principle, giving consumers the right to know the origin of their meat products. “WTO found that the way COOL was initiated in the United States provided less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock. Also, WTO’s final ruling stated that COOL label requirements are not clear in all instances. NFU will continue to work closely with the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that COOL is implemented to the fullest extent of the law and in accordance with WTO. If these results are unsatisfactory, then NFU will push to appeal the decision and continue to fight for U.S. consumers, farmers, and ranchers to ensure COOL is allowed to continue for as long as it takes to get this done.”
NFU disappointed in legislative action
President Roger Johnson issued the following statement about the passage of H.R. 2112, the “minibus” legislation that includes the agricultural appropriations bill, along with two other appropriations bills and the continuing resolution to keep the federal government running through mid-December: “While NFU appreciates that the Agriculture Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012 largely maintains overall discretionary funding levels, it is a disappointment for family farmers and ranchers. The bill prevents additional rulemaking for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule that would have addressed the fundamental problem of competition and consolidation in the livestock marketplace. The bill also undercuts the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act by limiting funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “These are two extraordinarily important issues for NFU members. We cannot allow the influence of the consolidated meat processors and Wall Street to trump the interests of family farmers and ranchers. NFU will continue to fight for the restoration of fairness in markets.”
MFU is working with a doctoral candidate in Public Administration at Hamline University in St. Paul. She is collecting data for a dissertation through a citizen survey. The research is about civics knowledge, trust in local government, and a variety of other aspects of democracy. The survey takes most people about 10-15 minutes to complete and at the end you will have a chance to provide some information so that you can be entered in a drawing for a $50 gift card to an online merchant such as Amazon or a retailor in your area. She will draw one certificate for every 15 surveys received. Information that you provide for the drawing is not retained after the drawing nor associated with survey results. Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Civic_Literacy ,I have taken it myself it is interesting.
MFU President Doug Peterson attended a meeting this past week with Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce Mike Rothman where he raised concerns about a shortage of diesel in Minnesota, the Department is are aware of the issue. Members who have comments on the issue are encouraged to contact me.
MFU is also interested in hearing from members what their Truth in Taxation statements look like as farmers have begun to get them and MFU works to look at the impact on the loss of the Homestead Market Value Credit. We have already seen some members with significant increases, if you are able to share what you are seeing with us that would be very helpful.
That is all for now, I hope everyone has a great holiday!
Thom Petersen, Director of Gov’t Relations, MN Farmers Union