ST. PAUL (November 22, 2011) – The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held its 70th annual state convention on Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20. Doug Peterson was re-elected as President and Gary Wertish was re-elected Vice President by acclamation; policy and special orders were passed, and delegates were elected for the National Convention in Omaha, Nebraska in March.
This policy is what MFU, as an organization, advocates for in the upcoming year. Among the special orders of business passed include one on the farm bill, which calls for meaningful payment limitations, a strong safety net for all crops when prices are low, as well as for dairy farmers when the farm gate price falls below production. A second special order calls for the reinstatement of the Homestead Credit (Homestead Market Value Credit). The third special order calls for MFU to send comments opposing the proposed rule to the Department of Labor that could prohibit certain children from farm activities and could negatively impact 4-H, FFA, and youth who wish to work on farms and in agriculture.
(March 25, 2011) - Twists and turns are part of life. As individuals, it is common to look back in wonderment, if not amazement, when considering how each of us “got to where we are.” Public policy also has its twists and turns. Sometimes those twists and turns cause the policy to veer from its original purpose or reason for being. Take for example commodity programs.
For as long as the authors of this column can remember, our understanding of commodity policy was that it is to provide a safety net for farmers. And we thought that we had a pretty good handle on what a farm safety net should be. A safety net should minimize damage to commodity prices/revenues during the “hard times,” the times when production chronically outruns demand such as during 1998-2001 crop years and during many previous periods. A safety net also should protect farmers against catastrophic on-farm production losses that result from the vagaries of weather. In exchange for this protection, these policies also protect consumers from extremely high prices.
It is not obvious why a safety net should be needed. In fact, it has been a mission of ours to explain to farmers, consumers, and policymakers why a safety net is important. We have sought to do this through this column and the talks that we give to groups to groups here and abroad.
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.”
St. Paul (September 17, 2010) - Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members joined 200 farmers and ranchers from across the country in Washington, D.C., for National Farmers Union's legislative fly-in September 13-15.
"The importance of having Minnesota Farmers Union members out in Washington D.C. is immeasurable because it allows them to speak directly to our representatives and senators about proposed legislation and how that legislation would impact them and ways to make positive changes to the bill in order to create better solutions for rural Minnesota, improving the legislation before it becomes law," said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. "We discussed the upcoming farm bill, ending the dairy crisis, the opportunities opening up trade in Cuba would provide to our farmers, and the need for the proposed rule changes on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration to be approved. It was an educational trip for MFU members and Members of Congress alike."
(March 9, 2009) - In his February 24, 2009 speech before Congress, President Obama said, "In this budget, we will...end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them." We were listening to the speech and when he said that we did a double take.
What did he mean?
Large agribusinesses like Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, AGCO, and Pioneer Seed don't receive direct payments. Direct payments are the current iteration of the AMTA (Agricultural Market Transition Act) payments that were made a part of the 1996 Farm Bill in order to entice farmers to support a radical reordering of farm programs. These payments are made to growers of the major crops (corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, rice, etc.) so Obama wasn't talking about many large livestock producers, orchardists, and fruit and vegetable producers.
To our ears the wording was strange because, in most cases, we do not think of crop farmers, even the large ones, as "large agribusinesses." They may be incorporated to simplify tax and inheritance issues, but for the most part, they are family operations-hardly what comes to mind when the President talks about "large agribusinesses."
Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack lays out priorities, extends comment period for payment limitations rule
From the United States Department of Agriculture
WASHINGTON, Monday, January 26, 2009-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced he will extend the comment period for the 2008 Farm Bill Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility rulemaking process.
Vilsack discussed his priorities as Secretary of Agriculture during a teleconference call today with agriculture and other reporters across the country and said that as part of the regulatory review process outlined by the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), he is directing the Department to extend the comment period for the payment limits rule for an additional 60 days.
"Let's be clear - in no way is this move a signal that we will modify the rules for the 2009 crop year," Vilsack said. "Sign up has begun and it's important that clear and consistent rules remain in place so that producers can prepare for the crop year and manage their risk appropriately."
To date, USDA has only received seven comments on the payment limits rule and Vilsack says that by extending the comment period additional farmers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment.