NFU Opposes ChemChina-Syngenta Merger, New AHCA Even Worse Than Last, People’s Climate March

NFU Calls on FTC to Oppose ChemChina Acquisition of Syngenta

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.
In early April, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for eliminating and preventing anticompetitive business practices, approvedChemChina’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.
Continuing NFU’s long tradition of advocating for competitive marketplaces for family farmers and ranchers, President Roger Johnson submitted public commentsto FTC Secretary Donald S. Clark, asserting that the deal  further consolidates the highly globalized agricultural inputs sector. The resulting reduction in concentration would decrease innovation, increase input costs, and limit choice for farmers.
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.
Read more in NFU’s press release.

New AHCA Even Worse for Family Farmers and Rural Americans
In late March, the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill intended to replace Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 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, reforms to the healthcare marketplace, and the proposed system of basing premium subsidies on a person’s age, rather than their income. Lacking the necessary support to pass the bill, Congressional leadership withdrew the bill shortly before the scheduled vote.
More than a month later, a new version of AHCA has been proposed, now including an amendment intended to garner the approval of the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus, the members of which had largely opposed the previous iteration. However, the amended bill is even more troubling, now risking even less protection for family farmers and rural Americans, especially those with preexisting conditions.
A new provision, known as the MacArthur Amendment for its author, Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, has a number of weak points. For one, it allows states to opt not to cover essential health benefits, such as mental health and maternity care, and to change the community rating provision, thus allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions who let their coverage lapse. This would force many farmers into high-risk pools and leave individuals with preexisting conditions to contend with increased premiums, higher deductibles, and longer waiting periods for coverage.

The amended AHCA would also disproportionately affect rural hospitals that are more dependent on Medicare and Medicaid payments than their urban counterparts. These concerns and others are emphasized in a letter Johnson sent to Congress earlier this week, as well as this NFU press release.

People’s Climate March
NFU joined 200,00 people at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. last Saturday. We marched to show the world and U.S. leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities, and our planet.

Although everyone is affected by climate change, food producers are particularly vulnerable. America’s family farmers and ranchers are already feeling the impact of extreme weather volatility and are dealing with it on a daily basis. The U.S. must enhance efforts to both mitigate climate change and encourage adaptation for family farmers and ranchers in order to ensure domestic and global food security.

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. A video of the event is available on YouTube.

April Farmer’s Share Published
NFU released the April edition of its popular Farmer’s Share, which shows how much farmers and ranchers are receiving from the money spent on food items at retail.

Did you know:

–Dairy farmers only receive 33%, or $1.49, of the $4.49 retail value of a gallon of milk.

–Pork producers make $0.72 for a pound of bacon that costs consumers $4.99. That’s just 14% of the retail value.

–Lettuce growers, on average, receive $0.50 for a head of lettuce, or 15% of the $3.29 shoppers pay at grocery stores.

Check out the March Farmer’s Share and our Price Barometer at the bottom of this E-News, and visit NFU’s Facebook and Twitter to share this information with your friends and family!

New on the NFU Climate Column: Conservation Planning
For producers who don’t know which conservation practices would be most beneficial for their operations or how to implement those practices, conservation planning could be a good place to start.

A conservation plan includes both a resource assessment of the land in question as well as a consideration of more than 160 NRCS-approved conservation practices that could be applied on the evaluated land. This process gives a participating producer an overview of their land’s conservation potential and connects them with coordinated regional, community, or watershed-based endeavors.
Check out this post about conservation planning 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: Leasing Land
For a beginning farmer, who may not have the means to purchase their own land, leasing is often the most viable route to starting an operation – but it doesn’t come without its challenges. The leases are often short-term, and renters have to comply with the requests of the landowner. Anne Schwagerl, who rents about a quarter of her 800 acres from family members, and Nick Levendofsky, who rents land from several different landowners, have experienced these challenges firsthand.
Check out this post about leasing farmland 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.

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:
1. General Safety
2. Power Take-Off
3. Roll-Over Protection
4. ATVs
5. Grain Bins & Augers
6. Livestock Handling
7. Transporting Equipment
8. Handling Chemicals
9. Electrical Safety
10.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.

Craig Watts, North Carolina Poultry Grower
NFU Stands with Contract Growers

Contract farmers raise 97% of the chicken consumed in the United States, but they face unfair challenges and hidden risks under the production contracts that are commonly offered by large corporate firms today.

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, also known as the GIPSA rules, as an interim final rule and two proposed rules to help balance the relationships between producers and meat packers in the concentrated livestock and poultry industries. NFU was pleased that the long-awaited rules were finally released.

However, in February, the Trump Administration delayed the effective date and comment periods for the three Farmer Fair Practices Rules. In response, NFU President Roger Johnson said, “Family farmers and ranchers have been waiting on the protections provided by the Farmer Fair Practices Rules for far too long, enduring heavily concentrated markets and the unfair practices associated with lack of competition. After having been delayed and obstructed for the past seven years, it’s time to end the unnecessary delays to the Farmer Fair Practices Rules and allow these basic protections to be finalized.” In April, USDA delayed the implementation of the interim final rule yet again, from April 22 until October 19.

There is a common misconception that the Farmer Fair Practices Rules were a “midnight rule” of the Obama Administration. In fact, they are the culmination of nearly a decade of work, having been provided for in the 2008 Farm Bill and undergone the full regulatory process. The USDA went to extensive lengths to ensure public comment was considered and Congress’s intent was realized, only to be blocked by riders stuck on appropriations bills in the middle of the night. Though some have disagreed on the policy, both producers and consumers will benefit from the competitive, transparent markets that these rules will help protect. Consequently, in March, NFU President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, advocating for the expedient adoption of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules.

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 mention 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.

Member Benefit Highlight: Sow True Seed

Sow True Seeds provides a broad selection of premium quality vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, bulbs & tubers, and cover crop varieties. The seeds come from a network of skilled regional growers and independently owned North American seed producers. Their seeds are open pollinated, with many heirloom and organic seed varieties to choose from. NFU members receive 10% off.

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.

Farmer’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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