St. Paul (June 11, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson returns 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.
St. Paul (June 4, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson is leading a delegation of National Farmers Union Presidents at the World Farmers Organization (WFO) General Assembly in Rome, Italy, June 6-9.
“This is a great opportunity to hear from farmers from around the world about what works and does not work for their agriculture community,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Leading the National Farmers Union delegation on this trip will include telling other attendees about the plights of the small family farmer across the United States and how we fight for prosperity for rural folks.”
The objective of the General Assembly is to provide an opportunity to discuss WFO‘s statutory issues; as well as offer the possibility to farmers associations to discuss and share experiences in agriculture related key issues including trade, food security, climate change, education and awareness raising programs; sharing experiences on outreach activities, special programs, services, products; collecting best practices and case studies; stimulate cooperation and partnership among WFO’s members and agriculture related organizations; and build an interactive platform for sharing experiences and cooperation network.
St. Paul (March 17, 2011) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members return from the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention held in San Antonio, Texas.
“The focus of the National Farmers Union Convention is NFU policy. It is the platform that we place in front of Congress to represent family farmers,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “In true grassroots fashion, each state delegate has an opportunity to represent family farmers from their state to ensure every Farmers Union member has a voice.”
Trade Stories Project
Dwight Ault is a seasoned Minnesotan farmer. Dwight farmed 8 years in Iowa, then made the move to Minnesota, and has been here, between Blooming Prairie and Austin, for the past 40 years. Dwight farms with his son and no other employees. The two are “totally dependent” on their general livestock consisting of sheep, hogs, and cattle. The farm is small, about 140 tillable acres, and with an additional 155 acres in the conservation programs. Dwight has made some big changes over the years, including the transition to an entirely organic operation, which will be completed by the end of 2010, and has also seen many changes in the rural communities.
(December 5, 2010) - As Christmas approaches, some seasonal elves will shop, some will bake, some will string a couple of megawatts of colorful lights from the front porch to the barn.
I hope to avoid most of this season-pushing by burrowing into my den of paper to wait the out all this buying, baking and beautifying. Three weeks from now I plan to emerge from my reading with some of my energy, humor and wallet intact.
Initially, however, this season’s reading seems more for Halloween than Christmas.
For example, the week after Thanksgiving, DTN livestock analyst John Harrington filed a well-written, clever analysis of how Big Meat is now squeezing the stuffing out hog producers.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data on the October pork trade, writes Harrington, “Processors commanded 16.3 percent of the retail dollar last month, a piece of pie 10 percent larger than 2009 and 11 percent greater than the three-year average.”
Wasn’t it Pythagoras who postulated that if someone is gonna’ take a bigger share of the pie, somebody else is gonna’ get less pie?
“Last month’s farm share of retail spending dropped to 27 percent,” explains the Nebraska-based analyst-writer, “down sharply from the spring high of 36 percent.”
(May 14, 2010) - As a part of the change from one administration to another and in response to the 2008 food price crisis which led to an increase in the number of hungry in the world to over 1.1 billion people, the US State Department followed up on the commitment made at the G-8 Summit in L'Aquila to raise "more than $20 billion to support a renewed global effort" to reduce world hunger by developing a consultation document called "Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative"
The document recognizes that "chronic hunger and under-nutrition primarily results from poverty-people who are poor often simply cannot afford to buy food. Hungry families spend over half their income to buy the food they need to survive, with little to fall back on." But before looking at local food production issues, public agricultural research, reduction of post-harvest loss, role of women, and sustainability, the flow of the argument quickly shifts to trade: "Food often cannot travel from surplus to deficit regions within and across countries because of poor roads and barriers at the border and checkpoints along the way."
(December 4, 2009) - A last ditch effort to conclude the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations was held in the summer of 2008 in the hope that George W. Bush would sign it and be able to get it through a Republican House and, with help from a few Democrats, the Senate. For many reasons, the negotiators were unable to come to an agreement that satisfied the various nations of the world.
The idea behind the Doha Development Round was the belief that increased trade liberalization would lead to increased development in the least developed countries of the world. It was argued that they would gain through the comparative advantage of cheap labor, cheap production, cheap land, and cheap resources.
Early economic models showed that the bulk of the gain from liberalized trade would be enjoyed by developing countries, including the least developed, and millions would be lifted out of poverty. Many analysts including the authors of this column pointed out the structural weaknesses of these early models.
(January 5, 2009) - As we wrote last week's column offering some key concepts that we hope the new Secretary of Agriculture will keep in mind in developing agricultural policy, President-elect Barak Obama had not announced his choice for that office.
No sooner had we finished the column and sent it to press and he announced that he had chosen former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. We congratulate Governor Vilsack on his selection and hope that he will follow in the footsteps of other great Iowans who have served as Secretary of Agriculture: particularly Tama Jim Wilson, Henry Cantwell Wallace, and his son Henry Agard Wallace who developed the New Deal agricultural policy.
This week we are continuing with the "key concepts" theme. The focus in this column is on agricultural trade policy, especially as influenced by negotiations related to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
One of the key objectives of some trade negotiators is the elimination of agricultural subsidies.
(December 29, 2008) - At the time of the writing of this column, the appointment of the new Secretary of Agriculture has not been announced. As the transition team goes about selecting the Secretary and as the Secretary approaches the development of agricultural policy, there are a few key concepts or considerations that we hope the new administration keeps in mind.
Food is different.
First, it touches the lives of every person in the world in a way that no other product does. We need to eat on a regular basis to maintain life itself.
Owning a television set, an automobile, or a pair of shoes may not be a moral imperative, but having access to food is. As a result, people react to food issues differently than other products. As former President Clinton recently said referring to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and his administration, "We blew it! We were wrong to believe that food was like some other product in international trade."