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NFU President in Denver for Discussion of Farm Bill Issues

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday, July 14, at RMFU’s offices in Denver with National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson. The program focused on consumer issues, including the environment, organic foods, health care, and nutrition programs. Roughly 70% of the budget for the “Farm Bill” is dedicated to nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly “food stamps”). The discussion was moderated by RMFU President Kent Peppler, a fourth-generation Mead, Colo., farmer.

“In addition to its impact on farmers, ranchers, and agriculture, the Farm Bill addresses many food and nutrition issues,” said Peppler. “As the time to shape national policy on food and farming approaches, RMFU and National Farmers Union will hold listening sessions to see that everyone with a stake in the bill gets a fair hearing. Our first meeting emphasized the common interests of consumers and producers. In the coming months, we intend to keep the needs of family farmers and ranchers, and the needs of rural America, in front of Congress during the debate on agricultural policy.”

Panelists included Dan Grossman of the Environmental Defense Fund, Rocky Mountain Organics Farmers Union President Claudia Ferrell, Moe Keller and Amanda Callahan from Mental Health America of Colorado, and Kathy Underhill and Katherine Moos of Hunger Free Colorado. After brief presentations by the panelists on each area of expertise, the morning was spent in lively discussion.
Roger Johnson and Kent Peppler provided overviews of the Farm Bill and the legislative process that historically shapes it. Johnson pointed out that direct agricultural interests actually make up a small percentage of the total bill, more accurately termed “the Farm and Food Bill.” Kathy Underhill pointed out that child nutrition is the key to maintaining our social fabric, rural or unban, and the panelists agreed that nutrition, conservation, and agriculture have common interests that outweigh any differences.

After the meeting, Johnson said, “Americans pay less for food than citizens in any other industrialized country, and they get the safest, most abundant food supply in the world. This is because America’s family farmers and ranchers have a safety net and can keep producing in tough times. We must make sure they continue to be protected in the next farm bill, so that they can keep producing food for all of us.”