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Pelosi addresses NFU convention

ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker, told an audience of more than 500 family farmers and ranchers attending the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual convention here Friday that this month’s House Appropriations supplemental bill will include disaster relief for agriculture producers.

Among those present for the announcement were delegates and other members of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU). RMFU, through its affiliation with NFU has repeatedly lobbied for disaster relief to assist producers hit with drought, blizzards and other natural disasters in the last several years.

The first-ever speaker of the house to address a National Farmers Union annual convention, Pelosi drew wild applause when she announced the inclusion of disaster assistance in appropriation legislation, which is expected before the House later this month.

“I know that agricultural disaster assistance is chief among your key priorities. It is a key priority for us as well,” Pelosi said. “We recognize the pressing, urgent need to provide agricultural disaster assistance to our rural communities in times of flood, drought and other natural disasters. That is why I’m proud to announce that emergency disaster assistance will be included in our supplemental appropriations bill.” “The speaker is providing the leadership on one of the most important and critical issues facing farmers and ranchers throughout the Rocky Mountain region,” said Kent Peppler, president, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “Drought, wild fires and severe winter storms have devastated farmers and ranchers in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming the last several years. The disaster assistance announced by Speaker Pelosi will be critical for producers’ financial stability in the coming years.”

Pelosi’s remarks corresponded largely with NFU’s policy positions, as well as the convention theme, “Feeding the World. Fueling the Future” and also included a strong emphasis on increasing the use of renewable energy.

“Energy independence is a national security issue, it is an environmental issue, and it is an economic issue for our country and for America’s families,” Pelosi said. “It can be an economic solution for America’s farmers.”

The speaker told Farmers Union members that “from corn in the Midwest to soybeans in North Carolina,” America’s farmers are key to fueling America’s energy independence. She said that while the energy challenges facing our nation are great, the solutions lie in U.S. fields at home.

“We intend to pass into law energy independence solutions that are American-owned and home-grown,” Pelosi said.

“Speaker Pelosi’s commitment to include farmers and ranchers in the development of a new domestic energy economy is a complement to the renewable energy development initiatives of RMFU and the state governments in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming,” said RMFU board member Charles Klaseen, Crawford, Colo., who also serves as a director of the Delta Montrose Electric Association. “Decreasing our dependency on foreign energy is great for the economy of rural America. We are excited about the support and leadership that Speaker Pelosi will give renewable energy at the federal level.”

Pelosi has been a consistent advocate for rural America during her career in Congress. As House Democratic Leader, she urged the formation of the Rural Working Group in 2003; it is now an advisory group of House members who work to address the policy priorities of rural America.