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Peppler, Niebur on their way to Washington

DENVER – Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) President Kent Peppler, Mead, Colo., and RMFU Farm Bill Task Force Chair Monty Niebur, Akron, Colo., will join 100 other family farmers and ranchers from throughout the country at National Farmers Union’s (NFU) Spring Fly-In, in Washington, D.C., March 27.

“Next week is a critical time for agricultural producers, as Congress will be debating and voting on disaster assistance for producers who suffered natural disaster losses this year and the previous two years,” said Peppler. “This assistance is a lifeline for some producers in our area, particularly ranchers in southeastern Colorado hit by successive blizzards at the end of December 2006.”

Peppler and Niebur will visit with the senators and representatives from RMFU’s three states—Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico—about disaster assistance, pending Farm Service Agency (FSA) office closures, and the budget for the next farm bill.

“Funding for and policies within the 2007 farm bill are crucial to family farmers and ranchers in this country,” Niebur said. “We will be presenting our elected officials with what we believe to be the priorities that need to be part of the next farm bill if we are to keep U.S. family agriculture alive and profitable.”

The farm bill priorities that RMFU will present to senators and representatives include a strong safety net, permanent disaster assistance, funding of conservation programs, programs that encourage rural development and community-based renewable energy production. RMFU will also express its strong support for nutrition programs, credit programs for young and beginning farmers and ranchers and research that provides greater marketing alternatives and profitability for family farmers and ranchers.

“Disaster assistance and the farm bill are THE most important things to farmers and ranchers at this time,” said Peppler. “And, in order to deliver these programs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture must maintain its system of county FSA offices, which are currently being threatened. We will be urging our congressional delegation to maintain these important service delivery mechanisms.”

Peppler, who currently serves on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Trade Advisory Committee for Sweeteners, and Niebur, will also participate in the International Federation of Agricultural Producers trade conference March 28-29, in Washington, D.C.

“We must maintain an open dialog with producer groups from throughout the world on what fair trade policies are best for family agriculture throughout the world,” Peppler said.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization representing 25,000 families in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.