Michigan Farm Bill Hearing, Delrahim Must Be Carefully Vetted, NFU Disappointed by Vote for AHCA

NFU E-News
Issue 322 ~ May 11, 2017
Government Relations     Education     News Releases
Membership     Calendar     Price Barometer

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Senate Ag Committee Meets in Michigan
Over the weekend, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry convened in Michigan for a farm bill hearing.  The session, “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan,” gave local farmers and stakeholders the opportunity to present testimony to the Committee on their concerns and priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. The testimony addressed a broad spectrum of agricultural issues, including the farm safety net, conservation, trade, immigration, farm credit, beginning farmer development, nutritional assistance, immigration, and biofuels, among a myriad of others.
A similar session was held in Kansas in February, and a number of others are expected to be scheduled across the country in coming months. The testimony will help the Senate Agriculture Committee write a farm bill to best address the needs and interests of American farmers and ranchers. Many are already anticipating the process to be difficult and drawn-out, especially as the allotted budget is expected to be cut substantially. At the most recent hearing, Senator Pat Roberts, the Committee’s Chair, warned that “lawmakers will be forced to do more with less.” The last farm bill was passed two years behind schedule, in 2014 rather than 2012, due to tensions over farm subsidies, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and dairy price support, the latter two of which will likely continue to be a point of contention this time around.

Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM
Antitrust Nominee Must Be Carefully Vetted
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for Makan Delrahim, Trump’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. If confirmed, Delrahim would lead the division to “promote economic competition through enforcing and providing guidance on antitrust laws and principles” by reviewing and enforcing corporate mergers.
Over the past several decades, farmers and ranchers have been dealing with rapid consolidation in the industries that both supply and buy from their operations. Three major proposed mergers – Dow-Dupont, Bayer-Monsanto and ChemChina-Syngenta – would be particularly detrimental. If all three are approved, it would limit major players in the agrichemical and seed sectors to just four companies. The resulting reduction in concentration would decrease innovation, increase input costs, and limit choice for farmers.
In a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a coalition of 137 farmer, consumer, and environmental groups, including the National Farmers Union, expressed concerns about the Bayer-Monsanto merger and agricultural consolidation  in general. The coalition urged the committee to ensure that Delrahim will “fully and skeptically evaluate the proposed merger, devote all necessary resources to the investigation, and hold the welfare of farmers, consumers, workers, and innovation foremost in his mind as he decides whether to block the merger.”

NFU Disappointed by House Vote for AHCA, Calls on Senate to Reject the Bill
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act, several weeks after an earlier iteration was withdrawn due to lack of support.
Prior to the vote, NFU President Roger Johnson sent a letter to the House, urging them to vote against the proposed act. He highlighted NFU’s concerns with the inclusion of a cap on Medicaid, age-based subsidies, and the recent MacArthur amendment, which would allow states to opt out of several of the law’s crucial underpinnings. If passed, the legislation would deprive an estimated 24 million Americans of coverage by 2026 and increase costs for millions more.
Following the House’s approval, NFU expressed disappointment and urged members of Senate to reject the bill. Read more in this NFU statement.

New on the NFU Climate Column: Rotational Grazing
Under rotational grazing, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) describes it, “only one portion of pasture is grazed at a time while the remainder of the pasture ‘rests.'”

By allowing forage on resting land to regrow, rotational grazing can decrease the risk of soil erosion, improve ground and surface water quality, and bolster wildlife habitat, while also decreasing input costs and time requirements for producers.
Check out this post about rotational grazing on the NFU Climate Column. You can also join the NFU Climate Leaders Facebook group for more on the conversation!

New on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column: Health Care
Beginning farmers and ranchers face many of the same obstacles to healthcare that other producers do, including high costs and few options, as well as some unique challenges. Beginning producers face significant economic uncertainty, and adding health insurance to the mix can strain a young farmer’s already tight budget.

The AHCA would further impede beginning farmers’ access to health care by allowing states to opt not to cover essential health benefits and to charge higher premiums to individuals with preexisting conditions. By some estimates, 1 in 4 Americans have at least one preexisting condition, meaning tens of millions of people under 65 could face higher healthcare costs.
Check out this post about health care and the AHCA on the NFU Beginning Farmer Column. You can also join the Beginning Farmer Forum for more on the conversation!

NFU Urges Trump Administration to Stay in Paris Agreement

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2017) –
As President Donald Trump weighs the merits of keeping the United States in the Paris Agreement, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to maintain U.S. commitments to global leadership on climate change. The Paris Agreement is vital to enhancing the climate resiliency of family farm operations and rural communities, and it allows family farmers and ranchers to join carbon sequestration efforts that stimulate economic growth in rural America.

The President is expected to make a decision on whether to stay in the Paris Agreement by late May. NFU has been an adamant proponent of the agreement since its adoption in 2015.
Read more in the NFU press release.

Farmers Union Marches for Science

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2017) –  Marching in cities across the United States, members of National Farmers Union (NFU) joined the world’s first-ever March for Science today, emphasizing the vital role that science should play in everyday life and in federal policymaking.

NFU President Roger Johnson, a third-generation farmer from Turtle Lake, North Dakota, addressed participants of the flagship March for Science event held in Washington, D.C.

“Farmers Union members are acutely aware of the important roles that science and science-based policies play in the success of American family farm operations,” said Johnson. “By joining in the March for Science movement, we hope to highlight the need for life sciences research, science-informed policy, and effective communication of the latest advancements in science and technology.”
Read more in the NFU press release.

NFU Statement on Sonny Perdue’s Confirmation as Agriculture Secretary
WASHINGTON (April 24, 2017) –
The U.S. Senate today confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the announcement:

“Having endured months of the current farm crisis and drastic policy changes in Washington without a Secretary of Agriculture, family farmers and ranchers are relieved that Sonny Perdue has finally been confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We are hopeful Perdue will provide rural America with a strong voice in Washington. NFU stands ready to assist the new Secretary as he navigates the myriad issues facing family agriculture and rural communities.”

Read more in the NFU press release.
Education

Join NFU’s Beginning Farmer Forum

The NFU Beginning Farmer Forum is a community of farmers, ranchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public that share common knowledge and interest in helping beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the challenges to starting and sustaining a farming operation in the U.S. It hopes to spread awareness about these challenges, provide insight into how they can be addressed at local, state and national policy levels, and share current resources and tools that benefit.

Join the Beginning Farmer Forum on Facebook to connect with hundreds of other farmers and contribute to the conversation.

NFU Farm Safety Video Series

NFU released a series of farm safety videos in 2016. Through these 10 short videos, we hope to build mass awareness to farm safety issues and contribute to reducing the number of annual farm-related accidents.

The short videos are on these farm safety topics:

General Safety
Power Take-Off
Roll-Over Protection
ATVs
Grain Bins & Augers
Livestock Handling
Transporting Equipment
Handling Chemicals
Electrical Safety
Behavioral Hazards & Child Safety

Visit our website (http://nfu.org/farmsafety) to find all of the videos that pertain to your operation, and share with your friends, family and neighbors to help prevent farm-related accidents and casualties! You can also order them here on DVD or USB.

NFU Urges Trump Administration to Consider Farmers Before Agribusiness Mergers

Extreme concentration in the agribusiness sector has long threatened the wellbeing of farmers and ranchers. A recent wave of consolidation in the agricultural inputs sector has farmers particularly on edge, with three major proposed mergers: Dow-Dupont, Bayer-Monsanto and ChemChina-Syngenta. If all three are approved, it would limit major players in the agrichemical and seed sectors to just four companies. The resulting reduction in concentration would decrease innovation, increase input costs, and limit choice for farmers.

In January, NFU was alarmed when then-President-elect Donald Trump met with Bayer AG, a German agricultural input company. During that meeting, the two parties struck a deal, committing Bayer to invest $8 billion towards research and development, should the company be permitted to acquire competitor Monsanto Co. This deal suggesed the administration’s tacit approval of the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would occur at the expense of family farmers and ranchers. Additionally, the timing of this meeting was troublesome, as it occurred before the President-elect had selected his nominee for Secretary of Agriculture. This left many concerned that after inauguration, President Trump would continue to prioritize the needs of agribusiness over those of rural communities.

Similarly, NFU was worried by the approval of the proposed merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. by the European Union, and urged the Trump administration to block the deal. The merger of Dow and DuPont, the 4th and 5th largest firms, would give the resulting company about 41% of the market for corn seeds and 38% of the market for soybean seeds. If the Dow-DuPont and Bayer-Monsanto mergers were both approved, there would effectively be a duopoly in the corn and soybean seed markets.

In early April, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for eliminating and preventing anticompetitive business practices, approved ChemChina’s $43 billion acquisition of Syngenta, provided that it divest production of three pesticides. In the following days, the merger received the green light from the European Commission, the Comisión Federal de Competencia Económica in Mexico, and China’s Ministry of Commerce. Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense and Canada’s Competition Bureau had previously approved the deal, leaving India as the only holdout as of early May. In response, President Roger Johnson submitted public comments to FTC Secretary Donald S. Clark, asserting that the deal  further consolidates the highly globalized agricultural inputs sector. Johnson also expressed concern that the deal would give the resulting conglomerate an unfair advantage in accessing Chinese markets, as ChemChina is owned by the Chinese government.

NFU Advocates for Science-Based Environmental Policy

In his first four months as president, Donald Trump has made a number of changes to U.S. environmental policy, including a reversal of Obama-era regulations intended to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. He has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, although it is currently unclear whether or not he will follow through.

In mid-April, NFU President Roger Johnson sent President Trump a letter, urging him to maintain the United States’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, an international framework to address climate change. Climate change, by severely altering average temperatures and weather patterns,  jeopardizes American food security and the livelihoods of American family farmers, ranchers and rural residents. The Paris Agreement is vital to enhancing the climate resiliency of family farm operations and rural communities, and it allows family farmers and ranchers to join carbon sequestration efforts that stimulate economic growth in rural America.

On Earth Day, April 22, National Farmers Union joined the first-ever March for Science, organized to celebrate science, call for science that upholds the common good, and demand evidence-based policies in the public interest. NFU President Roger Johnson addressed the crowd at the flagship event in Washington, D.C., emphasizing the importance of science-based policy for the success of America’s farmers and ranchers. He also voiced support for publicly funded, independent, and peer-reviewed agricultural research to inform both farmers and policymakers.

The following weekend, on Trump’s 100th day in office, NFU joined 200,000 people at the People’s Climate March in the nation’s capital to show the world and U.S. leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities, and our planet. The day before the march, Tom Driscoll, NFU’s Director of Conservation Policy, spoke at a climate science and solutions forum hosted by Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts. Driscoll discussed why farmers care about climate change, and presented many practices that farmers can implement to both mitigate and adapt to its effects.

Trump Administration Neglects Rural Communities
In mid-March, President Trump issued his fiscal year 2018 federal budget blueprint, calling for a drastic reduction in spending on agriculture- and rural-related agencies and programs.

Among his recommendations is a $4.7 billion cut to USDA, which equates to a 21 percent drop for programs that serve rural and farming communities across the U.S. This huge cut to discretionary spending puts rural development, food safety, conservation and research programs on the chopping block. Additionally, the blueprint provides for a $2.6 billion cut to EPA funding. This 31 percent drop guts the agency’s ability to provide essential environmental services and pesticide approval.

Family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring the worst farm economy in well over a decade, as well as an inadequate safety net that is hamstrung by $23 billion in budget cuts. Further cuts to agencies and programs that provide support to agriculture and rural communities will compound the difficulties farmers endure, particularly during the current farm crisis. These cuts and the message they send to rural America are deeply disappointing.

To compound these concerns, President Donald Trump failed to use the words ‘rural,’ ‘farm,’ or ‘agriculture’ in his address to a joint session of Congress in February, even though he touched on a number of subjects that will both directly and indirectly affect American farmers and ranchers. NFU released a statement in response, expressing dismay about the President’s stance on trade, immigration, and healthcare.
The President’s plans to replace the “current system of lower-skilled immigration” has many farmers and ranchers on edge, as it neglects the unique and important contribution of immigrant laborers to our national food system and rural economies. Farmers are similarly concerned about the proposed changes in national health insurance policy. Notably, motions to cut support to Medicaid would disproportionately affect farmers and ranchers, a population that is older than average.
To this point, the president has put the needs of rural America and agriculture on the backburner, and, in many cases, on the chopping block. If the President intends to be a champion for all Americans, he must consider the real and lasting impacts of his policy agenda and budget on rural America and family farmers and ranchers.
Membership

Member Benefit Highlight: Burpee Seeds

Burpee seeds and plants are available for all growing zones and for all seasons and Burpee guarantees each and every product. In order to keep pace with the changing times, Burpee’s highly recognized catalog can now be viewed online. Burpee.com can be used as a one-stop-shop for gardening techniques, recipes, FAQs, etc. NFU members receive a 10% discount at checkout.

Visit nfu.org/join to become a member and start saving today.
Visit nfu.org/benefits for a complete listing of all NFU membership benefits.
Call a Doctor 24/7 with Telemedicine

Have you heard the term “telemedicine” recently and wondered what it is? Wonder no more! Telemedicine is a convenient new way to talk to a doctor 24 hours a day 7 days a week when you’re having non-emergency medical issues at home or anywhere else not close to a doctor’s office.

So how does it work? You get telemedicine when you sign up for the Wellness Access Card for a low $99 yearly fee for the entire family. You will then get access to a 24-hour physician phone line that lets you speak to a real doctor, who will make treatment recommendations and even write prescriptions over the phone for common sickness such as flu, sinus infections, respiratory infections, pink eye and more.

Telemedicine is a great option for those who live in rural areas far away from a doctor’s office. You don’t need to wait until the morning to visit the doctor if you’re feeling under the weather at night.

There are no age restrictions, and there are even pediatricians available for when your children get sick.  On average we see 97% member satisfaction and 97% physician satisfaction.  On average members receive a call back from the physician in 22 minutes and a guarantee call back within three hours.

All you have to do is sign up for the Wellness Access Card and choose whether you want a monthly or annual membership. Once enrolled you will receive your membership kit, which comes with the telemedicine phone number and specific instructions on how to use it. That’s it. No long forms to fill out. Simply call the number and get medical assistance.

To learn more, visit www.careington.com/co/nfu or call (877) 376-8958.
Farmers Union Insurance

Farmers Union Insurance has always been a community-based insurance provider. Founded by Farmers Union leaders in 1945, the company offers personalized, relationship-based service to farmers and rural residents across the Rocky Mountain and upper Midwest states. Last year alone Farmers Union Insurance provided more than 90,000 policies.

In 2005 Farmers Union Insurance was integrated into the Americas division of the international QBE Insurance Group. As part of the QBE family, Farmers Union Insurance continues to offer quality care and protection to policyholders. Together, QBE and Farmers Union work to maintain the Farmers Union brand to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and rural residents know that Farmers Union respects and supports their economic needs and livelihoods.

It is an exciting time for Farmers Union Insurance. By working with QBE, Farmers Union Insurance is poised to expand its offerings to new regions and enhance its product line. New products are ready to be rolled out under the Farmers Union brand that will allow family farmers, ranchers and rural residents to choose a policy that is better tailored for their needs. There are imminent plans to expand the geographic offering of Farmers Union Insurance beyond the current footprint and to further support our Nation’s rural communities.

Looking to get the most out of your insurance policy or know a farmer who is? Remember that by choosing a Farmers Union Insurance product you are supporting your state Farmers Union as well as National Farmers Union’s 114 year old effort to advocate on behalf of the American family farm.

Farmers Union Insurance – A QBE Group Partner
Hastings Mutual Partnership

Farmers Union members join for lots of different reasons, but a very fundamental reason is a business reason. They want to get added-value from their membership for their farming operation. In the states where Hasting Mutual Insurance Company operates, the added-value is a very high-quality health insurance partnership that provides many of the insurance products farmers across the country need.

Hastings Mutual provides members top farm insurance products as well as other great coverages including home, auto and commercial insurance. The company operates in six Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Last year alone, the partnership garnered over 500 new memberships in those states.

Know a farmer in one of these six states? Tell them to contact their state farmers union or a Hastings insurance agent in their area to receive discounts on their farm owners policy premium.

Watch the Hastings Mutual/NFU partnership video here.

Visit our website to learn more about your state farmers union. Call Hastings Mutual at 1-800-442-8277 to find an agent near you.
PricebarometerFarmer’s Share Price Barometer

April 2017

Commodity                            Current        Parity           % of
Crops                                        Price             Price            Parity
Barley (bushel)     $5.64     $14.30     35
Corn (bushel)      $3.49     $13.00     27
Cotton, Upland (pound)     $0.688     $1.93     36
Flaxseed (bushel)     $8.34     $33.10     25
Oats (bushel)     $2.39     $8.41     28
Peanuts (pound)     $0.203     $0.662     31
Rice (cwt)     $9.97     $39.40     25
Sorghum Grain (cwt)     $4.89     $22.20     22
Soybeans (bushel)     $9.69     $31.40     31
Wheat (bushel)     $4.37     $17.60     25

Livestock

Cattle (cwt)     $125.00     $320.00     39
Hogs (cwt)     $53.00     $161.00     33

Dairy/Poultry

Eggs, (dozen)     $0.812     $2.94     28
Milk, All (cwt)     $18.10     $51.80     35

~Parity prices reflect March 2017 NASS prices

Taken from “Agricultural Prices,” USDA/NASS.
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