AURORA, COLO.>>Four Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) members left this weekend to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Farmers Union’s annual legislative fly-in. The grassroots lobbyists will visit with members of Congress and the administration about the financial crisis facing America’s family producers.
RMFU members participating in the event, which runs through Sept. 13, include David Carter, Westminster, Colo.; Catherine H. McNeil, Monte Vista, Colo.; Michael Gardner, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; and Dale Petty, Clovis, N.M. They will join Farmers Union members from throughout the nation to call for much needed changes in federal farm policy. According to Farmers Union, the so-called freedom to farm policy adopted in 1996 has been a disaster for family producers.
“Current farm policy has no safety net for family producers and has increased price volatility, impoverishing much of rural America at a time when the U.S. economy has experienced record growth,” said RMFU President Dave Carter. “The men and women who feed the nation are having to work multiple jobs to feed and clothe their own families.”
Farmers Union will continue to use its “two cents worth” campaign to communicate the farm crisis to Washington lawmakers and members of the administration. Producers are being asked to calculate the quantity of a commodity they growth for which they would be paid two cents. For grains like corn and wheat, two cents worth generally equals 1-2 pounds. In the case of sugarbeets, 2 cents worth is 13 pounds.
“Family producers cannot survive on 1940s farm prices when paying 2000 input costs and land payments,” Carter said. “Congress’ decision to eliminate the safety net has resulted in annual allocation of emergency relief, which is not the way producers want to operate.”
In addition to a safety net for farmers when prices drop sharply, Farmers Union will urge Congress to enforce antitrust measures in order to improve competition among buyers of agricultural commodities. Currently, just three or four companies control processing and marketing of the lion’s share of the U.S. food supply.
It is the goal of fly-in participants to visit every member of Congress. The group also will be meeting with members of the administration, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.