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RMFU members have their say in Washington, D.C.

By Jimmie Dean

Members of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union joined more than 250 farmers and ranchers in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-13, to draw attention to the challenges facing rural America, including emergency disaster assistance, renewable energy, fair trade, preventive planting payments and policies for the 2002 farm bill which is set to expire in 2007.

Participants from RMFU included: Jennifer Luitjens Bahr, Parker, Colo.; Burt Heckman, McClave, Colo.; John Noffsker, Monte Vista, Colo.; Charles Petty, Clovis, N.M.; Ann Schnelzer, Lingle, Wyo.; John Stencel, Aurora, Colo.; Curtis Temple, Wiley, Colo.; Jerry White, Lingle, Wyo.; and Gary and Peggy Wilmoth, Palmer Lake, Colo.

RMFU members requested that Congress pass emergency disaster assistance before it goes on recess in November. Farmers and ranchers nationwide have experienced overwhelming losses from weather-related disasters in 2005 and 2006. Fly-in participants also called on Congress to help offset the severe losses suffered in those years.

RMFU members also concentrated on ways to expand family farmer and rancher opportunities with renewable energy in the West, asking Congress to step up efforts to encourage the use and production of fuels from the farm.

Participants asked Congress to expand and accelerate the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for ethanol, an d establish an RFS for biodiesel, as well as to expand biofuels distribution systems, and provide assistance to farmers and ranchers to mitigate the impact of higher energy prices and declining commodity prices.

Colorado participants will be particularly interested in correcting preventive planting programs in order to avoid some the economic windfalls that have accompanied this year’s drought.

RMFU asked for extension of the 2002 farm bill for two years, when the budget and international trade climates are more conducive to writing beneficial legislation. Farmers and ranchers are concerned that the current political climate may force a new farm bill that does not adequately address all of the titles included in the existing farm bill.

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