WASHINGTON, March 12 2014 - While noting that the ability to work “across the aisle” is increasingly difficult, especially in a divided, extremely partisan Congress, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson couldn’t help but tout his organization’s role in pushing for final passage of a new farm.
“It’s a big deal….it’s a really a good bill,” he told the more than 530 NFU members who gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico from March 8-12.
“We have a farm bill that nobody thought would have price protection in it…. We strengthened crop insurance and didn’t pay a price…..We got permanent disaster programs for the first time ever… and we have a farm bill that protects COOL (Country-of-origin labeling).
“COOL was perhaps the hardest and most difficult and highest profile fight of the bill. And we won,” Johnson emphasized. Indeed, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who spoke on Monday, pointed to Johnson and Vice President of Government Relations Chandler Goule as being the driving forces behind keeping COOL intact. But Johnson noted that the “fight is far from over” with a ruling expected from the World Trade Organization this summer and continued attempts to kill COOL in Congress.
NFU delegates debated a wide variety of policies, including one that embraces producers’ rights to grow genetically modified crops. While noting language from their previous policy book that the use of GMOs “has raised some ethical, environmental, food safety, legal, market and structural issues” the new policy recognizes that “many of our producers are incorporating GMO varieties in their farming operations. Their right to do so should be respected as appropriate regulatory agencies continue to research and evaluate these concerns,” the delegates noted.
In addition, delegates also adopted eight special orders of business recognizing 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming and setting priorities for implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, immigration reform, trade policy, animal disease protection and research, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and long-standing concerns over reform of the beef checkoff. Click here to read the special orders.
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