Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) members will be in Washington, D.C., September 8-10 to meet with federal legislators and urge them to support policies that sustain rural economies and ensure our nation’s security. The delegation includes current RMFU Fellows – a select team of individuals who enrolled in a year-long leadership class that will help them contribute to their communities. The group will be accompanied by RMFU President Kent Peppler, who is a Mead, Colo., farmer, and RMFU Education Director Jennifer Luitjens Bahr. “This is a great opportunity for these young community leaders to exercise their new skills,” Bahr said. “We are especially looking forward to meeting with the Department of Energy to stress the importance of rural communities to our national energy security.”
Development of renewable energy, fair international trade agreements, competitive markets, implementation of the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, and sensible food policies will be on the agenda as farm and ranch families from the region and other state Farmers Unions visit senators, congressional representatives, and administration officials from the USDA, the DOE, and other agencies.
High on the priorities of the delegation is raising awareness of the need to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which expires in December. “The PTC helps level the energy playing field by matching the sorts of tax credits routinely offered to oil and coal producers,” RMFU President Kent Peppler said. “If Congress allows it to expire, it will do tremendous damage to the new energy economy in the Rockies and even to our nation’s energy independence.” Peppler said.
The delegation will also take the opportunity to counter myths propagated by corporate agri-business, such as the singling out of ethanol as a scapegoat for high food costs or the notion that the family farmer and rancher are getting rich on higher supermarket prices.
“Rural America is struggling, as all Americans are, to stay ahead of a failing economy. And we hold the key to food and fuel security in our country,” Peppler said. “Our food supply and the new energy economy depend on wise use of rural lands. Our members represent lifetimes of experience and innovation in stewardship, conservation, and production. We hope we can keep Washington listening to our members’ voices.”