National Farmers Union members concluded their 114th anniversary convention March 8 in Minneapolis by adopting special orders that emphasize issues important to the organization’s members.
The issues include:
-Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL)
-The current farm bill
-ARC county payments
-Animal disease protection and research
-The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)
The special orders adopted are in addition to a line-by-line review of the organization’s policies conducted by delegates from across the country.
In addition to policy review and educational events, several officials spoke about the opportunities and challenges facing American agriculture.
Related story: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack addresses NFU members
Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark issued a call to action during his convention speech.
“You’re not just farmers,” Clark said. “You’re in the national security business and we need you out there on the front lines protecting America’s economic future.”
Clark, a West Point valedictorian who also served as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said that oil dependence has dominated America’s foreign and military policy and that renewable energy is key to breaking the cycle.
“How many more U.S. troops do we need to send abroad before the nation wakes up and says, ‘you can’t run foreign policy based on the price of a barrel of oil,’” Clark asked the group.
“Energy policy is national security policy,” he added, calling the Renewable Fuel Standard one of the most important pieces of energy policy ever passed because it boosts production of homegrown alternative energy sources.
“We need your support to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard in place,” Clark said.
But it won’t be easy and rural America will meet stiff resistance from Big Oil. The oil industry is “the most powerful industry in the history of mankind,” he said, and it will use its money and political power to maintain a stranglehold on America and the energy market.
Calling ethanol “greener, cleaner, cheaper and better,” Clark said U.S. farmers have a positive story of success to share while fighting for America’s energy future.
“If we can stay with the Renewable Fuels Standard, we will beat the Saudis, the Russians, the Iranians or anybody else who tries to manipulate this country…we’ll put our own energy policy in place,” he concluded. “I don’t want my grandchildren going out there to fight for someone else’s oil, and neither do you.”
Related story: EPA finalizes higher renewable fuel levels under RFS
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton praised family farmers and ranchers in his remarks to the convention attendees.
“Across this country, citizens depend on today’s food and tomorrow’s agricultural innovation,” Dayton said. “Every Main Street business, every school, every community in Minnesota all depend on our farmers.”
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, commented on the need for trade.
“It’s important that we have conversations about trade to ensure we have markets for the superior products we produce in this country,” Emmer said. “We have spent so much time as a nation focused across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and I respectfully believe that we have failed to pay attention to the Western Hemisphere and Cuba in our own backyard.”
NFU president Johnson said farmers, though different, have much in common.
“We came to Minneapolis from farms and ranches that operate thousands of acres to farms that operate less than half an acre,” he said. “We have full-time farmers and part-time farmers as members. And yet, we all share a common bond because in many ways we face the exact same challenges. We all make NFU a much stronger organization.”
Farmers Union delegates re-elected Donn Teske of Kansas as NFU vice president.
“Serving as vice president has been a true honor, and I’m pleased to continue to serve Farmers Union members in this role,” Teske said during his acceptance speech.
Source: National Farmers Union