AURORA—County delegates to the 92nd Annual Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) Convention here Nov. 17-18, called on national policymakers to revamp U.S. trade laws and to open the 1996 farm bill for revisions prior to its scheduled re-write in 2002.
A special order of business passed by delegates stated, “Trade rules that give national governments the flexibility to deal with domestic farm policy must be the focus of the U.S. agenda for upcoming World Trade Organization talks.” The resolution specified that upcoming trade talks address the impact of currency fluctuations on trade, the dispute resolution process, harmonization of environmental standards, compensation of producers for unfair imports, and more authority to congressional agriculture committees on agricultural trade issues. Another special order of business called for the RMFU board of directors to appoint a committee to suggest changes to current farm policy to provide a safety net for family farmers and ranchers. The resolution noted that many producers are experiencing the lowest commodity prices since the 1930’s despite rising retail prices for food. The farmers’ share of the food dollar has declined by 10 percent per year since enactment of the 1996 farm bill, the resolution states.
“Previous trade negotiations, along with current U.S. farm policy, have left U.S. producers vulnerable to a highly volatile global marketplace,” said RMFU Policy Committee Chairperson Wade Wilson, Pleasant View, Colo. “Not only is the playing field not level, U.S. producers are having to play with one arm behind their backs. We must have changes in domestic farm and trade policy if we are to maintain a viable system of family farm agriculture.”
Convention delegates also enjoyed a variety of speakers, including National Farmers Union (NFU) President Leland Swenson, NFU Washington, D.C. senior lobbyist Nancy Danielson and political consulting group founder Stephän Bell. Former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown and former U.S. Rep. Ray Kogovsek squared off in a panel entitled “Politics Then and Now,” which was moderated by Channel 7 TV political analyst Jim Monaghan.
Other business conducted by the convention included the election of Elwin Poe, Holyoke, Colo., and Charles Petty, Clovis, N.M., to the RMFU board of directors. Dave Carter, who has served as RMFU president since 1993, was re-elected for another two-year term.
RMFU used its convention to recognize former Colorado Sen. Tilman Bishop for his Legislative Service to Agriculture. Robert Eisenach, Ft. Morgan, Colo., was given RMFU’s Meritorious Service Award. A special tribute also was made to Kathleen Sullivan Kelley, Meeker, Colo., for her advocacy on behalf of family farmers and ranchers.
Convention delegates also elected nine delegates to represent them at National Farmers Union’s annual convention in Rochester, N.Y., March 2-5, 2001. Those elected are: Kaprice Franke, Akron, Colo.; Jerry Hergenreder, Longmont, Colo.; Sue Jarrett, Wray, Colo.; Fred Macy, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; Paul New, Mosca, Colo.; John Noffsker, Monte Vista, Colo.; Dale Petty, Clovis, N.M.; Donna Roberts, Laird, Colo.; and Tamara Smith, Hasty, Colo.