By Kent Peppler
We have been dealing with a lot of different issues since I became president. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is a general farm organization that represents a huge variety of family farm interests. The office is a constant buzz of activity right now, and there are days when the threat of ‘overload’ looms too close for comfort. I am no stranger to this scenario; I’ve spent my whole life on overload, and I know what the dangers are when you have too many balls in the air. The biggest danger is paying so much attention to every little tree that the forest disintegrates in front of you.
The ‘forest’ for Farmers Union right now is the farm bill. This has to be the number one issue in agriculture. The next farm bill will control the destiny of thousands of family farmers all over the world. RMFU members have sent a clear message to me regarding their priorities within the upcoming farm bill debate. They are as follows: 1) safety net 2) permanent disaster assistance 3) conservation programs 4) renewable energy.
Do not be fooled by the high commodity prices we are currently enjoying. Remember, this too shall pass. With the constant increases in operating expenses, we need to protect and expand our safety net now, more than ever.
We are sick and tired of begging for disaster money. It wastes our time, it wastes our elected officials’ time, and it wastes taxpayer money. The time has come for a permanent disaster program. End of story! We have some wonderful conservation programs already on the ground, such as the Conservation Security Program and the Conservation Reserve Program. It’s time to fully fund them.
Renewable energy could be the biggest opportunity we have seen in a generation for the sustainability of family farm agriculture. But, there are forces out there that seek to suppress, distort, and even destroy the renewable energy effort. These are powerful forces that have agendas for self-gratification, also known as profit. The renewable energy movement is in for one hell of a fight, and all the marbles are on the line for this one. The fight is already being waged in the halls of Congress and in our own state houses.
I am urging, I am pleading, I am begging for every Farmers Union member in Colorado to call their state representative and senator and tell them to support HB 1169, the net-metering bill. This bill is the first step to Gov. Bill Ritter’s Colorado Promise. The Promise is to make our state the leader in the nation on renewable energy; to have a cleaner Colorado; to have a sustainable economy for family farm agriculture; and, most importantly to all us, to have a less fossil-fuel dependent world that makes our children safer.
So there you have it, the BIG PICTURE. Let’s stay focused and get the job done.