Farmers Union Membership Urged to Voice Fast Track Trade Authority Opposition

A message from the National Farmers Union is alerting all members that legislation is before Congress to grant President Barack Obama ‘fast-track’ trade authority. Both the National and Ohio Farmers Union have come out against fast track authority for any president.

“We oppose fast-track negotiating authority for the president,” said NFU President Roger Johnson earlier this year.

“Trade agreements must be a fair deal for all parties – farmers, workers, and consumers, both in the United States and abroad. Previous trade deals haven’t lived up to this standard, so Congress should have full opportunity to review and amend provisions of a trade agreement, consistent with the U.S. Constitution,” Johnson said.

The Ohio Farmers Union passed a ‘special order of business’ at its annual convention in January coming out against fast track authority. From our special order on trade concerns:

The Ohio Farmers Union opposes congressional passage of so-called Trade Promotion
Authority, also known as “Fast Track” trade authority. Fast Track allows for executive branch negotiation of trade agreements and constrains Congress to a simple, up and down vote on the entire agreement with no chance for amendments. The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the “power … to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Congress should not relinquish this authority and push the multitude of economic and human rights issues inherent in today’s trade agreements further away from being influenced by the American people through their representatives to Congress.
 And, here’s what the NFU Action Alert has to say:

Congress has just introduced Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. This bill will all but ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would go through. It hands over the Constitutional authority of Congress to review trade agreements to the President. Many members of Congress have yet to declare their position on TPA. They need to hear from their constituents, like you, that TPA is the wrong course for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

Promises of expanded trade benefiting U.S. farmers and rural communities have been made during the debates for NAFTA, CAFTA, and the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreements and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These benefits have failed to materialize. Instead, rural communities have been roiled by profound economic instability. The trade deficit was $505 billion in 2014, a full 3 percent drag on our nation’s GDP.

Even agriculture, which typically has a surplus in trade, has suffered the consequences of free trade. On the three year anniversary of the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement, agricultural exports to Korea have stagnated, growing an estimated zero percent, yet agricultural imports from Korea have increased 28 percent under the free trade agreement.

Because of the secrecy of the negotiating process, it is impossible to know whether domestic laws such as Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and other policies to strengthen rural economies, including vital reforms that would reduce our existing trade deficit, are being traded away.

We urge lawmakers to reject fast track and ensure all future trade agreements address the substantial trade deficit.

Do you agree? Let your representatives know! Find your Representative(s) here and your Senators here.

Reminder: OFU Forum on Water Quality in Toledo September 22

post400pngThe Ohio Farmers Union will bring together scientists and agricultural experts in late September in a forum on seeking solutions for the annual algal blooms in the western basin of Lake Erie.

The forum will be held Sept. 22, 1 p.m., at Forrester’s on the River, Boers-Boyer Way, 26 Main St., Toledo. The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are appreciated to Linda Borton, Ohio Farmers Union, at

OFU President Joe Logan said it’s important for farmers to acknowledge their part in Lake Erie’s woes, and that OFU is trying to help spread the word on innovative farm management practices that assure that farmers are doing their part to protect Ohio’s waters.

“Farms dominate the landscape in the western Lake Erie watershed and farmers use many tons of phosphorus and nitrogen to grow crops – so people naturally look toward agriculture as a contributor to Lake Erie’s excess nutrient loads,” Logan said.

“Farmers always try to keep nutrients on their land, but the increasing intensity of rain storms make doing so more challenging. Farmers may need to embrace new management practices and new technology,” he added.

OFU’s forum will include speakers:
•    Jeffrey M. Reutter, director, Ohio Sea Grant & F.T. Stone Laboratory
•    Todd Hesterman, NW Ohio coordinator, Conservation in Action
•    Gregory LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension
•    Adam Rissien, Ohio Environmental Council

Logan said OFU is committed to information on water quality and agriculture being “fact and science-based.” He also said that broad, regulatory programs may not be the silver bullet for solving Ohio’s water quality issues but “innovative agricultural practices, along with targeted state and federal regulations will be more likely to attain our goals.”

Logan hopes the forum will be a reasoned and productive discussion among farmers, scientists, urban interests and agency officials that can support their collective effort toward saving Lake Erie.

“We have a very serious problem threatening a crucially important state, national and international resource – it’s time for everyone to get on board and begin working together toward an effective solution.” Logan said.
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House Ag appropriations misses mark: NFU

WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union expressed disappointment today at the mark up of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2013 agriculture appropriations bill today. The bill was approved by voice vote and will move on to the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill includes $19.4 billion in discretionary funding, which represents a cut of $365 million from last year’s level, and falls $1.7 billion short of President Obama’s request.

[Read more…]

U.S. Dept. of Labor should take caution that new regs don’t keep farm kids from learning about agriculture

WASHINGTON  – National Farmers Union submitted comments earlier this month to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding new proposed child labor safety regulations for agricultural and agriculture-related jobs. NFU policy supports the intent of the new regulations to make workplaces safer for young people, but urges caution in implementing regulations that may discourage children from learning about agriculture.

“Farm safety is an issue of the utmost importance to NFU, and I commend the department on its efforts to make workplaces safer for young workers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In a farm family, every member plays a valuable role in the economic success of the farm. Farming is not simply an occupation, but a lifestyle that has been passed down from generation to generation. In order to ensure the viability of our family farms for the future, it is critical that farmers are able to teach their children how to perform agricultural work safely and responsibly. The proposed regulations preserve that ability.”

NFU also urged the Department of Labor to look at certain rules that may be overreaching.

[Read more…]

Volunteer, Internship opportunities at the National Farmers Union

Are You Looking For Work Experience?  Check out NFU’s Internship Program

Grad Students: When can a 3-5 month job change your life? When it’s a Farmers Union internship on Capitol Hill! NFU is now accepting applications: Extended internships available during the fall/winter/spring sessions.

 Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange – Horticulture Experience Needed

The Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer program is looking for someone to help the women’s groups in Senegal get access to new horticultural techniques and manage the surface under cultivation they have available.  If interested, send an e-mail to and we’ll put in contact with the National Cooperative Business Association.

Environmental & Agricultural Success at Marshy Meadows

Federal budget cutters may want to think twice about slashing USDA conservation programs

When most Americans think about federal dollars spent on agriculture, they envision big ticket (and controversial) items like ethanol subsidies and direct payments. Most of us don’t realize that the USDA – through divisions like the Natural Resources Conservation Service – also administers programs that allow family farmers and small producers to make improvements to their land helping them to build their business while protecting natural resources for the rest of us.

We know that the actions of some farm and livestock operators can have consequences outside the boundaries of the acres they plant or graze. Just ask the folks who live near Grand Lake St. Mary’s here in Ohio. The toxic algae problem at the Grand Lake is attributable, at least in part, to runoff from area farms.

[Read more…]

Kasich Administration Sets New Fees for Weights & Measures Devices

The Ohio Dept. of Agriculture has announced a new $75 fee on the weights and measures devices used by many farmers.

Devices covered by the new fee include:

  • Vehicle scales
  • Railway scales
  • Livestock scales
  • Bulk rack meters
  • Vehicle meters
  • LPG meters

According to ODA, for 2011, device owners have until September 30, 2011 to register their devices. Registrations received after September 30, 2011 will incur a $20 late fee.

An ODA fact sheet on the fee may be downloaded here.

NFU Joins Call for Coherence Between WTO & Other Global Concerncs

WASHINGTON (June 20, 2011) – National Farmers Union (NFU) joined farm groups from 60 countries from around the world in calling for better coherence between World Trade Organization (WTO) policies and other global concerns.

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