The National Farmers Union convention just concluded in San Diego, California. It was reported that there were 500 farmers in attendance.
NFU is 116 years old forming in 1901 as a protest against low cotton prices in west Texas. It still has an adversarial ring to its policies and deals with social issues more than farm bureau or commodity organizations.
A rather sobering review of the convention from a state president that includes addressing the need for suicide prevention hotlines as farm prices stay low.
Terry Detrick is from Ames, Oklahoma. He is the President of the American Farmers and Ranchers, a state affiliate of the National Farmers Union. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network’s Ron Hays about the just concluded national convention.
“I think we were very successful at making sure that emphasis is put on our declining net farm income. Our producers are suffering with low commodity prices, hot weather, and fire. We were able to get our special order in that came from our convention on their radar, calling for congress to increase discretionary funds now for income assistance, for counseling. We are not the only state that’s in really bad trouble, Detrick said.”
A key measure that Detrick and the AFR delegation championed was addressing Family Farming and Crisis Relief. Detrick is a huge fan of the Ag Mediation Program and this special order urges Congress to include authorization in the next farm bill to fund Ag Mediation efforts at the national level.
“In the mid 80’s people were willing to attempt suicide because they thought there life insurance policy would help pass the family farm onto the next generation. That is not the answer, mediation programs are the answer, Detrick said.”
The adopted policy book and special orders of business will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, including the current farm crisis and upcoming deliberations on the 2018 Farm Bill.
“As a family farmer and rancher-led organization, our grassroots policy adoption process is the most important part of our annual convention,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “This year, NFU delegates adopted strong language to address a variety of issues facing family agriculture and rural communities, including the depressed farm economy, corporate consolidation, and international trade.”
The convention featured two high-level panels on federal farm bill and conservation issues, as well as remarks from industry leaders from a variety of agricultural sectors.
“Our programming provides members with the opportunity to learn more about the issues facing their operations and communities, and it sets the stage for how the national organization should address those issues back in Washington,” said Johnson. “With deliberations beginning on the upcoming farm bill, this year’s panel discussions provided valuable insight, important context, and diverse viewpoints that will shape the debate.”