2014 International Year of Family Farming

February 1, 2014 in International Year of Family Farming, Uncategorized

LOGO_IYFF_horizontal-EN2014 is the International Year of Family Farming

By Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President

When National Farmers Union was founded in 1902, most of the population of the United States had a direct connection to a farmer, if they were not involved in farming personally. While those of us presently involved in farming, ranching and other agricultural pursuits hold tight to the connection, the reality is that the average American is several generations removed from the source of their food supply. This fact creates a critical need for all of us to continue to spread the message of the importance of family farming to everyone in America and around the world.

The United Nations (UN) has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). National Farmers Union is proud to be leading the U.S. National Committee in support of the year. With family farming in the spotlight on an international stage, now is the time to capitalize on this opportunity and spread the word about the work family farmers are doing each and every day.

Family farming is so much more than cows and plows. Family farmers, ranchers and fishermen are working to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel for our country and the world. Through advancement of technology, conservation practices and other methodology, today’s family farmers are able to provide for more people while utilizing fewer resources. There are more than 313 million people living in the United States. Of that, less than one percent claim farming as an occupation, and about two percent actually live on farms. It is astonishing to think that only about 2.2 million farms in the United States provide all of those people with nourishment.

Family farmers are the original environmentalists. When it comes to our nation’s fuel supply, our family farmers, ranchers and rural residents are a practical source for leading the charge in producing biofuels, wind energy and other alternatives that continue to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and improve our national security. While working to provide both food and fuel, our farmers are strive to utilize practices that will conserve and improve the land while lessening the impact on the environment for the success of future generations of family farmers.

As National Farmers Union continues to celebrate family farming, we encourage you to get involved. Be on the lookout for future events and other activities where you can make an impact! Are you a member of your local Farmers Union? If you aren’t, join today! Becoming a member is the first step in bringing your voice to the table on many levels, opens the door to educational opportunities for you and your family, and continues to support the future of family farming in our country.

New Year: Same Priorities

December 31, 2013 in Farm Bill, Uncategorized

2014 may be a new year, but the priorities haven’t changed!

we need a farm bill

We need a new, comprehensive five-year farm bill. We don’t need another extension — we need the certainty of a five-year bill. The farm bill is a vital piece of legislation for family farmers, ranchers and growers across the country. It is a fiscally responsible bill that saves taxpayer dollars while protecting our nation’s food security and environmental health. The following priorities must be included:

  • Do not rescind existing permanent farm bill law. Reinstate the permanent farm bill provisions from 1938 and 1949 as the underlying legislation. Permanent law provides an incentive for Congress to periodically review farm programs and ensure they are still relevant and working properly;
  • Include fixed reference prices, such as those proposed by the House bill’s commodity title, to provide protection against price collapse rather than basing price protection on a rolling Olympic average, as in the Senate bill;
  • Include a dairy program that provides protection against rising production costs and market collapse and establishes an inventory management program that is geared toward family farmers, as in the Senate bill;
  • Provide $900 million of mandatory funding for energy title programs, as in the Senate bill, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biobased Markets Program;
  • Oppose the House version’s additional, unnecessary studies on the implementation of Country- of-Origin Labeling (COOL), which is already the law of the land, and resist any efforts to under- mine COOL law; and
  • Reauthorize and fund the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program at the House bill’s level, which provides funding for programs that expand important food systems in one of the fastest-growing areas in agriculture.

Repost: Annual Convention Invitation

November 27, 2013 in Convention, Uncategorized

Pennsylvania Farmers Union Annual Convention

December 7 • Dixon University, Harrisburg

Register by Clicking Here

PFU Convention

 

John Ikerd - 2009

Keynote: John Ikerd

Family Farms: Our Promise for a Sustainable Future

John Ikerd was raised on a small dairy farm in southwest Missouri, is today Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, and writes and speaks extensively on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture. He is author of Essentials of Economic Sustainability, Sustainable CapitalismA Return to Common SenseSmall Farms are Real FarmsCrisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture, and A Revolution of the Middle

Workshop focus: Real farming has always been as much a way of life as a business. On true family farms, for example, the farms and the families are inseparable. Profits are necessary for the economic well-being of the family, but its the quality of “farm life” that makes the family business worthwhile. True family farmers take care of their land and care about their neighbors and customers, not because it’s more profitable but because it’s a better ethical and social way of life. It’s the social and ethical aspect of family farms that make farming sustainability, and the economic preoccupation of farm businesses that make them unsustainable. In addition, many farm business have failed economically and many that have succeeded are no longer places where most families would choose to work or live. Family farms are still the best hope for a sustainable future for farming and for humanity.

 

Jerry BrunettiSpecial Guest:  Jerry Brunetti

Living Soils: Essentials for Healthy Pastures & Fields

Jerry Brunetti is a soil and crop consultant for livestock and produce farms, as well as ranches. He is a highly demanded lecturer and speaker on topics that include soil fertility, crop quality, animal nutrition and livestock health.  Jerry also speaks about his cancer diagnosis and the path of nutrition…a path he links to healthy soil, nutritious food, and profitable, sustainable farming practices.

Workshop focus: Healthy soils are more productive and more profitable. Managing soil ecosystems depends upon cooperation amongst the physical, biological, geological and biodiverse components of soil systems, which in turn translate into stronger plants with more drought, disease and insect resistance.

Tracey CoulterSpecial Guest:  Tracey Coulter

Agroforestry: Connecting our Farms, Forests & Watersheds

Tracey Coulter serves as Agroforestry Coordinator in the Rural & Community Forestry Section of the DCNR Bureau of Forestry where she works to strengthen working landscapes by building the connections among sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture, and healthy watersheds. She and her husband are restoring an 1830s log cabin in Centre County where they are planting a “forest farm” including ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, and, of course, chestnuts.

Workshop focus: Today, forests comprise about 60% of the land cover in Pennsylvania, but its non‐forested land‐base is largely agricultural. Despite the predominance of these land uses, agroforestry, or the integration of trees and agriculture is poorly understood and generally not considered by landowners or farmers in land use planning. Still, a 2005 survey of forest landowners and farmers (Strong and Jacobson) indicated that one third of respondents were interested in producing non‐lumber forest products such as ginseng, ramps or mushrooms and one quarter of the participants indicated that they were interested in practices that would enhance livestock production such as silvopasture, windbreaks, and riparian forest buffers. This presentation will introduce these key agroforestry practices and present examples that can be adapted to Pennsylvania’s farms and forests along with on‐ the‐ground examples of what’s happening right here on our fields and forests.

PFU comments on FSMA

November 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

#fixFSMAFamily farms will be greatly impacted by the FDA’s proposed rules associated with the new Food Safety Modernization Act. Today, Pennsylvania Farmers Union submitted comments on behalf of our membership and we wanted to share those with you. We welcome your feedback as we are hopeful there will be a second-round comment period. If you are still planning on making comments today but need some help, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has a handy walkthrough for you!

Comments on the Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption Docket No. FDA – 2011-N-0921 and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human Food Docket No. FDA -2011-N-0920

Submitted at Regulations.gov by: Pennsylvania Farmers Union

The Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU), a membership organization, is committed to enhancing the quality of life of family farmers throughout our Commonwealth.  Our 600 members include farmers, foresters, horticulturalists, consumers, farm organizations and cooperatives.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the associated rules being established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have the potential to fundamentally reshape local food markets. We have serious concerns the proposed rules will impede local food access and growth in a market that is flourishing right now. We are concerned for the future of family farms, many of which are viable for the first time in a generation (and are increasingly being stewarded by younger farmers, many of whom are women, minorities and veterans). Diversified farms, often offering the full range of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs and meat, are most at risk of having their futures be jeopardized.

Any rules relevant to the FSMA must:

  • Be scale and market appropriate
  • Be based on sound science
  • Be administered by agencies that understand farming systems (in particular diversified and aggregating, whole-systems practices)
  • Be reasonable and affordable with regard to documentation requirements

We have a deep appreciation for and applaud the FSMA’s focus on prevention. That said, our members have serious concerns about the associated rules as proposed by the FDA.

Feedback we have received from our members reflect the following concerns:

  • The need for a second comment period after an initial drawing up of rules based on the current comment period. The rules associated with FSMA stand to have such a significant impact on farmers, it is imperative that extremely careful consideration be given to ensure a thoroughly thought-out set of rules.
  • The lack of clarity with regard to the definitions of “farm” and “facility”, as well as “farming activities” and “manufacturing activities”, potentially subjecting farms that pose minimal safety risks to an inappropriate level of regulation.
  • A basic lack of understanding on the part of FDA of diversified farm systems and emerging and innovative markets in the farming sector
  • Lack of clarity with regard to “mixed type facilities” and under which set of rules any specific farm falls: Produce Safety and/or Preventative Control
  • Exemptions, particularly as they relate to diversified systems, food hubs and aggregating cooperatives
  • Impacts on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and cooperative food distribution systems
  • Rules regarding retail food establishments, specifically that they don’t include CSAs and farmstands
  • Gross sales thresholds that clearly do not reflect an understanding of, and in fact penalize, diversified and flexible farming operations
  • Rules that conflict with GAP and NOP programs
  • Issues of competition that put domestic producers at a disadvantage compared to those importing food from other countries
  • Application interval requirements for animal-derived biological soil amendments that are not based on sound science
  • Water testing requirements for irrigation that are not based on sound science
  • Environmental impacts of rules that could encourage the reversal of conservation practices such as wildlife habitat and riparian buffers, practices which are beneficial not only to the watersheds that feed farms but to farm systems themselves
  • Coordination of efforts between state agricultural departments and federal agencies, including a clear line of authority
  • A climate of ‘fear of prosecution’ as opposed to one emphasizing assistance and training
  • Lack of clarity regarding due process resulting from withdrawal of qualified exemptions

 

We urge you to consider a second comment period after the above concerns have been addressed and thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Pennsylvania Farmers Union

Family Farm Advocate – Fall 2013

October 22, 2013 in Advocate newsletter, Convention, Farm Bill, Farm Regulations, Uncategorized

First fall edition of the Family Farm Advocate, Pennsylvania Farmers Union newsletter…

Invitation: Annual Convention

October 1, 2013 in Convention, Uncategorized

Pennsylvania Farmers Union Annual Convention

December 7 • Dixon University, Harrisburg

Register by Clicking Here

 PFU Convention

 

John Ikerd - 2009

Keynote: John Ikerd

Family Farms: Our Promise for a Sustainable Future

John Ikerd was raised on a small dairy farm in southwest Missouri, is today Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, and writes and speaks extensively on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture. He is author of Essentials of Economic Sustainability, Sustainable Capitalism, A Return to Common Sense, Small Farms are Real Farms, Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture, and A Revolution of the Middle

 

Jerry BrunettiSpecial Guest:  Jerry Brunetti

Living Soils: Essentials for Healthy Pastures & Fields

Jerry Brunetti is a soil and crop consultant for livestock and produce farms, as well as ranches. He is a highly demanded lecturer and speaker on topics that include soil fertility, crop quality, animal nutrition and livestock health.  Jerry also speaks about his cancer diagnosis and the path of nutrition…a path he links to healthy soil, nutritious food, and profitable, sustainable farming practices.

Tracey CoulterSpecial Guest:  Tracey Coulter

Agroforestry: Connecting our Farms, Forests & Watersheds

Tracey Coulter serves as Agroforestry Coordinator in the Rural & Community Forestry Section of the DCNR Bureau of Forestry where she works to strengthen working landscapes by building the connections among sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture, and healthy watersheds. She and her husband are restoring an 1830s log cabin in Centre County where they are planting a “forest farm” including ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, and, of course, chestnuts.

NFU Board Passes Resolution on Farm Bill, COOL and the RFS

September 7, 2013 in Farm Bill, Press Releases, Uncategorized

Resolutions ImageThe National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors, including Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) board president Kim Miller, unanimously passed a resolution today indicating the obligation of Congress to provide certainty for our nation’s family farmers, ranchers and consumers by passing a five-year farm bill and by continuing to support Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Through this resolution, the NFU Board has once again given a clear message to Congress – it is time to complete the 2013 Farm Bill,” said Johnson. “Family farmers and ranchers will not settle for an extension of the current law, we have too much at stake. Farmers what a farm bill that saves taxpayers money and that looks to the future – not the past.”

Passing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill, protecting the existing Country-of-Origin-Labeling law, and maintaining the current structure of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were highlighted as crucial to our nation’s food supply, rural communities, the overall health of the economy, and energy security.

“Congress needs to hear the voices of family farmers and take action on the 2013 Farm Bill this year. As a member of the NFU Board of Directors, I voted to pass this resolution to show the support of Pennsylvania Farmers Union,” said PFU president Kim Miller.

“Our interests are at risk yet again because the farm bill expires on Sept. 30, 2013,” the resolution stated. “Both chambers of Congress have each passed a version of the farm bill, but now the House must move swiftly to appoint conferees and begin the formal conference process with the Senate.”

“Along with providing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill, Congress and the administration must protect the existing COOL law for meat, seafood, poultry and other agricultural products,” the resolution continued. “In an increasingly economically-interconnected world, COOL provides important, common-sense information to American consumers about their food.”

“Congress must also pursue policies that support our nation’s energy security,” the resolution stated. “The RFS is a crucial tool to wean our nation off foreign oil, promote rural economic development, and reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector.”

The meeting of the Board precedes NFU’s Fall Legislative Fly-In that will bring nearly 300 Farmers Union members to Washington for meetings with legislators and other events Sept. 9 to 11. For more information about Fly-In events, visit www.NFU.org.

Click here to read the resolution.

Farmers Union | Conservation District Partnership

July 31, 2013 in Slideshow, Uncategorized

Hope and Roy Brubaker of Village Acres Farm

Farmers Union members Roy & Hope Brubaker of Village Acres Farm, awarded Outstanding Small Cooperator by Juniata Conservation District in 1997.

PA Farmers Union Membership Growth Offers Opportunity for Conservation Districts

As the lead sponsor for the PACD/SCC Joint Annual Conference, the Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) sought to connect with conservation districts as part of their efforts to reinvigorate the organization. The mission of the PFU is to enhance the quality of life of family farmers – whom districts work with daily.

For the remainder of the calendar year, Pennsylvania Farmers Union will donate $10 of every new membership or renewal to the member’s local conservation district (if so desired by the member). While $10 may not seem like a huge amount, to PFU, it is a demonstration of a commitment to the important work of conservation districts. Of course, PFU also welcomes conservation district employees and board members, particularly those whose families are farming, as members of the Farmers Union so you can add to the legislative voice of the organization.

Kim Miller, PFU president and member of the Westmoreland Conservation District board, invites you to spread the word about this partnership opportunity. Click here for membership information.

Please contact Executive Vice-President Hannah Smith with any questions.

Latest on the Farm Bill…

June 13, 2013 in Farm Bill, Slideshow, Uncategorized

farm bill senate provisions graphNational Farmers Union update on the 2013 Farm Bill

The farm bill is an extensive, omnibus piece of legislation that is reauthorized roughly every five years. ‘Farm bill’ is really a misnomer, because although the legislation does contain a number of provisions that are critical to family farmers’, ranchers’, and fruit and vegetable growers’ economic success, more than 75 percent of the bill’s funding is allocated for nutrition assistance for the underprivileged, both in the United States and abroad.

Much of the remaining provisions relate to rural business development, incentives for renewable energy production, and protection of our country’s most precious natural resources. So, above all, the farm bill is really a food, energy and jobs bill, and all consumers, farmers and rural Americans have a responsibility to be engaged in the farm bill debate.

The 2008 Farm Bill (the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008) expired on Sept. 30, 2012. Despite the tremendous bipartisan, multi-sector effort behind the legislation, the $23 to 35 billion in savings it would have contributed to deficit reduction, as well as near unanimous support from the entire agriculture community, Congress did not see the bill through but instead passed a one-year extension that expires in September 2013. Now farmers, ranchers, and the lender that provide them credit are at Congress’s mercy, struggling to make business decisions in this uncertain policy environment.

See below for additional farm bill resources.

 

NFU Summaries:

Senate‐Passed Farm Bill (June 12, 2013)

Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Draft (May 13, 2013)

House Agriculture Commitee Farm Bill Draft (May 10, 2013)

Target Prices (May 16, 2013)

Senate/House Farm Bill Side by Side Comparison (May 16, 2013)

 * Summaries do not reflect any changes made during the committee markup

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry’s 2013 Farm Bill page

Committee summary of Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (May 9, 2013)
Legislative text of Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (May 9, 2013)

 

House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture’s 2013 Farm Bill page

Committee summary of Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013(May 10, 2013)
Legislative text of Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (May 10, 2013)

NFU farm bill resources:

NFU 2013 Farm Bill policy

NFU 2013 Farm Bill Flyer

News releases

June 12, 2013 NFU Applauds Speaker Boehner’s Support of the Farm Bill
June 5, 2013 NFU Calls on Senate to Advance Farm Bill; NFU Hopeful in Final Stretch
May 20, 2013 NFU Highlights Priorities for Senate Amendments on 2013 Farm Bill
May 15, 2013 House Ag Committee Concludes Markup, NFU Encouraged by 2013 Farm Bill Momentum
May 14, 2013 NFU Outlines Farm Bill Priorities for House Committee on Agriculture
May 14, 2013 NFU Congratulates Senate Ag Committee on Completing Farm Bill Markup
May 13, 2013 NFU Outlines Farm Bill Priorities for Senate

More news releases…

 

Letters

Letter to President Obama Asking to Include Farm Bill in Fiscal Cliff Bill (Dec. 13, 2012)
Letter to House Leadership to Pass Farm Bill in Lame Duck (Nov. 14, 2012)
Letter to House to Schedule Farm Bill Vote (Sept. 13, 2012)

More letters…

 

Testimony

May 18, 2012: House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry –Energy and forestry programs
May 17, 2012: House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management – Commodity programs and crop insurance

More testimony…

Blog posts 

May 23, 2013 Senate wraps up farm bill consideration until June
May 20, 2013 Senate begins farm bill debate
May 16, 2013 Recap: Senate and House farm bill markups
May 10, 2013 Senate Agriculture Committee releases draft farm bill
May 10, 2013 House Agriculture Committee releases draft farm bill
May 3, 2013 House Majority Leader’s summer agenda includes the farm bill
May 2, 2013 Senate Democrats host rural summit

More blog posts…

Additional farm bill resources:

 

Congressional Research Service reports

June 1, 2012: Budget Issues Shaping a 2012 Farm Bill

May 30, 2012: The Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240): A Side-by-Side Comparison with Current Law

March 30, 2012: Expiring Farm Bill Programs Without a Budget Baseline

March 26, 2012: Possible Extension or Expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill

Feb. 15, 2012: Previewing the Next Farm Bill

More CRS reports…

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture resources

Side-by-side of 2002/2008 Farm Bills

Economic Research Service research

Secretary Tom Vilsack’s 2012 Farm Bill priorities

Farmers Union Partners with Pennsylvania Certified Organic to Raise Funds!

May 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

IMG_1721-300x200Be A Part of It!

Pennsylvania Farmers Union is partnering with Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) at the 2nd Annual PCO FarmFest!

We’ll be coordinating efforts to bring you the  2nd Annual FarmFest Benefit Auction. Please consider contributing an item and you’ll be doing your part to further the efforts of both organizations.

You can sign up today by using the form below to contribute items/services. All contributions are tax-deductible for the fair-market value. We look forward to showcasing your wares and services at this year’s FarmFest Silent Auction!

Pennsylvania Certified Organic assures the integrity of organic agricultural products through education, inspection, and certification of growers, processors, and handlers.

FarmFest is a fun and free community-building event that fosters knowledge of organic agriculture and sustainable living through educational opportunities, local foods, lively entertainment, and interactive events.

Pennsylvania Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and local communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.