National Farmers Union (NFU) adjourned its 109th annual convention in San Antonio, Texas. More than 500 Farmers Union members from across the country gathered to celebrate the past year’s achievements, look ahead to future challenges, and vote on the farm organization’s priorities for the coming year. The convention, themed, “Spur to Action,” is where NFU members are able define the focus of the organization’s work.
NFU President Roger Johnson took the stage during the opening banquet, delivering the State of the Farmers Union address. NFU has been representing farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural Americans for more than 100 years, reaching out to all agriculturalists – no matter the size, scope or method of production. “National Farmers Union is a diverse organization,” said Johnson. “We represent all farmers, whether small, large, traditional, organic, fruit, vegetables, livestock or grain producers. As a result, we work on a wide range of issues and benefit from a variety of perspectives.” Johnson reviewed the successes of the previous year and looked ahead to the issues American farmers and ranchers will face in the days to come.
“This was a very exciting convention,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We dealt with a wide variety of issues, from the 2012 Farm Bill to conservation to the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule to biotechnology and trade. Our members made their voices heard and set the policy that they want us to advocate for in the coming year.”
The convention also featured numerous speakers, including U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, former Sen. Byron Dorgan and former Texas Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower. Convention attendees also had the opportunity to hear from speaker panels on various topics.
Among the special order of Business adopted by the delegates included a request that Congress act quickly to support dairymen during the prolonged dairy crisis. The special order of business also called for the continuation of programs such as the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP). “American dairy farmers remain in crisis, having endured low milk prices and high input costs for several years,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Those who have survived have been left extremely vulnerable despite recent modest price increases which have not been sufficient to help dairy farmers fully recover.”
Another special order of business adopted by the delegates was supporting the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule. “The proposed GIPSA rule is a Farmer and Rancher Bill of Rights,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We have seen a rapid decline in the number of beef and hog operations in the United States. Since 1980, more than 500,000 beef cattle operations have been lost. During that same period, we have seen a ten-fold decline in the number of hog operations, from 660,000 to 67,000. Clearly something must be done, and the proposed rule is a big step in the right direction.”
One of the highlights at the convention was a surprise presentation of the Award for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union by National Farmers Union (NFU) to Texas Farmers Union (TFU) President Wes Sims who has served as presidents of TFU since 1996.
“Wes deeply, deeply believes in Farmers Union, what it stands for and what we fight for,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “There’s just no one who better represents family farmers and the need to fight for family farmers and has worked faithfully for the common good of family farmers, rural people, and rural communities his entire career,” said Johnson. Great respect of Sims was shown as the entire convention delegates awarded him with several long standing ovations.
The Award for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union is designed to recognize individuals or families that have made a significant contribution to the betterment of family farmers and rural citizens through their involvement in national and international agriculture issues.
National Farmers Union, founded in Point, Texas, has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.
NFU represents farmers and ranchers in all states, with organized divisions in 32 states. The key to the success and credibility of the organization has been Farmers Union’s grassroots structure in which policy positions are initiated locally. The policy process includes the presentation of resolutions by individuals, followed by possible adoption of the resolutions at the local, state and national levels. Members and staff of the Farmers Union advocate these policy positions nationwide.
National Farmers Union believes that good opportunities in production agriculture are the foundation of strong farm and ranch families, and strong farm and ranch families are the basis for thriving rural communities. Vibrant rural communities, in turn, are vital to the health, security, and economic well-being of our entire national economy.