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Farmers Union members work on heavy issues during convention

(Cheyenne) More than 180 members of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union met here over the weekend to hammer out some issues that are at the base of the current U.S. farm crisis during the organization’s 91st annual convention. Members first tackled U.S. farm policy and urged Congress to reopen the 1996 Farm Bill. In a special order of business, the convention cited extremely low commodity prices and the growing number of farm bankruptcies as reasons behind the need for a new farm policy. The convention also called on their organization’s leaders to appoint a blue ribbon committee to develop needed changes that will provide a safety net for family farmers and ranchers. A second special order of business was passed regarding the upcoming World Trade Organization talks. The convention urged U.S. trade negotiators to focus on trade rules that give national governments the flexibility to deal with domestic farm policy. The order stated that the outcome of previous trade talks – together with current U.S. farm policy – have left U.S. farmers and ranchers too exposed to the volatile global marketplace. The order said, “U.S. negotiators should work to improve U.S. producer’s access to markets, enhance the transparency of international trade and market policies, and establish equitable, enforceable trade rules that are consistently applied.” The upcoming vote on the Cenex/Harvest States and Farmland Industries merger was called into question by the Farmers Union membership in a final special order of business. The organization vigorously opposes the unification. The membership cited Farmland Industries’ insecure financial situation due to heavy tax debts and that the unification will result in the continued concentration of agricultural markets placing the independent producer at further risk as reasons for their opposition.