OCM Annual Conference Press Release & Agenda

Organization for Competitive Markets Announces 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda
“Preserving Independent Family Agriculture through Competitive Markets”

For Media: OCM Pres. Mike Callicrate—(785) 332-8218 or John Hansen VP—(402) 476-8815

For Conference and Registration Information: Pat Craycraft—(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731

LINCOLN, NE. Mike Callicrate, President of The Organization of Competitive Markets (OCM) announced that OCM is holding its 18th Annual Conference, August 19-20, 2016, at the Doubletree Hilton, Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This year’s program features keynote presentations by four nationally recognized champions of family agriculture and competitive markets:
Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, will the noon keynote speaker:
“Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming.”
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and national expert on trade policy and TPP will be the afternoon keynote speaker:
“We are Winning the TPP Battle, But How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?”
Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow in the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth Program, and widely read author on market concentration will keynote the Friday evening banquet on his latest book:
“Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction”
Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute will provide a keynote presentation on the recent acceleration of major ag input mergers under consideration which has the rural sector wondering about their future in a system with no competition or choices:
“Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector”
OCM President Mike Callicrate said, “We are pleased to move our annual OCM Conference back to Nebraska and Omaha this year. We are really excited about the top notch set of speakers we have with us this year who will focus on the all-important issues of agricultural markets and trade policy. We encourage food producers and food eaters to attend and interact with our national experts. If you care about the future of family farm agriculture, you should attend this year’s annual meeting.”
OCM Vice President John Hansen called on the OCM members in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Minnesota to drive to Omaha for this year’s conference. “This year’s OCM speakers are the national experts you always wished you had the opportunity to listen to and meet. Omaha is centrally located, and affordable. Registration fees are $50 and room rates are $99 if you register by August 5th. In addition to the outstanding national speakers, we will have panel discussions on the proposed Costco Poultry project, Right to Repair, legislative updates and checkoffs,” Hansen concluded.
For conference registration, call Pat Craycraft at:(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731 or go to: www.competitivemarkets.com
For Lodging Reservations: Call Elaina (402) 636-4906 by August 5th at $99 or http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/O/OMAH-DT-OCM-20160817/index.jhtml

 

“Preserving Independent Family Agriculture

Through Competitive Markets”

 

Doubletree Hilton Omaha Downtown

August 19-20, 2016

AGENDA

Friday, August 19

7:30 – 8:30:     Registration

 

8:30     Introductions, Opening Remarks . . . . . .Mike Callicrate, President OCM

Invocation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ……Judy Heffernan, Secretary OCM

Welcome to Nebraska . . . . . . . . ………. John Hansen, Vice-President OCM

 

8:45    Collaboration Work & Introductions…Joe Maxwell, Interim Executive Director OCM

Sarah Bell, Eleventh Hour Project/AARC (Animal Agriculture Reform Collaborative)

Louisa McCune, Kirkpatrick Foundation

 

9:20    A New Level of Vertical Integration:  Costco Enters Poultry Production in Fremont: An Opportunity for Improvement, Or An Alarming Sign For the Future?

Moderator:                  John Hansen, VP OCM, and President Nebraska Farmers Union

The Local Efforts:       Graham Christensen, GC Resolve

Grower Education:     Mike Weaver, Director OCM & President of the Contract Poultry Growers of the Virginias

Poultry Practices:        Don Stull, Treasurer OCM, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Author of “Slaughterhouse Blues”

 

10:30   Refreshment Break

                                                          

10:40   Community Initiatives to Halt Vertical Integration

Moderator:      Don Stull, OCM Treasurer

Local Opposition Success:    Chris Petersen, OCM Director

11:00   Emerging Consolidation Issues

Moderator:      Mike Callicrate, OCM President

  • Sustainable U.S. Global Round Table…Vaughn Meyer, Director, OCM & CBB
  • Right to Repair…John Hansen, President Nebraska Farmers Union & VP OCM

 

11:35   OCM Collaboration Reports – Joe Maxwell, Interim OCM Executive Director

 

12:00   Lunch

 

12:30   Luncheon Keynote Speaker:  Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union

“Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming”

 

1:00:    “We are Winning the Trans-Pacific Partnership Battle, But

How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?”

Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America

1:20:  Panel Discussion Examining Trade Policy’s Far Reaching Impacts on Competition, Antitrust

                        Enforcement, Domestic Laws, GNP, Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Sovereignty

  • Joe Logan, President Ohio Farmers Union, OCM & CPA Board Member
  • Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union
  • Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America
  • Barry Lynn, Director of the Open Markets Program and Senior Fellow at

New America

 

2:00:  The Beef Checkoff:  A Failed Program That Compels Cattlemen to Fund

                                  the Destruction of Their Business and Way of Life

Moderator:  Mike Callicrate, President OCM

  • Fred Stokes…A brief history
  • Vaughn Meyer, Director OCM…….What we get for our checkoff
  • David Wright, President, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska Board Member of Cattlemen’s Beef Board……………The Beef Checkoff; Rife with Corruption
  • Matthew Penzer, Lead Attorney on the OCM  USDA FOIA lawsuit and

related checkoff litigation………….An Update on the OCM lawsuit

  • Dudley Butler, J. D. Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group PLLC & past USDA GIPSA Administrator……………..Where do we go from here?
  • Q & A

 

3:30:   Refreshment Break  

 

3:45:    Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector

Diana Moss, President, American Antitrust Institute

Moderator:  Don Stull, Treasurer, OCM

 

4:45     Legislative Update…Joe Maxwell, Interim Executive Director OCM        

           

5:15     Mixer (Cash Bar)

 

7:00     Banquet…Master of Ceremonies:  Mike Callicrate, President OCM

 

Helmuth Award Presentations

 

Banquet Keynote Speaker: Barry Lynn, Director of the Open Markets program, a

Senior Fellow at New America, and author of:

 

“Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction”

 

Saturday, August 20, 2016 – 8:00 AM

 

OCM Membership Meeting:  All Members Encouraged to Attend

  • Business & Financial Reports
  • Election of Officers

NeFU Brings 10 Members to DC to Represent Family Farmers and Ranchers

For Immediate Release                                                        

Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Brings 10 Members to Washington to Represent Family Farmers and Ranchers

 

LINCOLN, NE  (August 10, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen announced today that ten NeFU members will participate in the fall National Farmers Union Fly-In scheduled for September 11-14.  Hansen said this year is particularly important because this is the third year in a row of below cost of production ag commodity prices.

Hansen said “Production agriculture is facing a major financial crisis as grain prices continue to sink, grain inventories build, exports are flat, and ag production costs stay at or near historic all time high levels.   We are in year three of a grain price collapse that looks to either continue or get worse.  The meat sector is not much better.  We think the best way for our elected officials to understand the size and scope of the financial hardship farmers and ranchers are facing is to talk directly with the farmers and ranchers themselves.  That is why this Fly-In will be an important one for families that farm and ranch.  We are extremely pleased that we have 10 Nebraskans willing to share their stories with our elected officials.”

The top four issues for the NFU Fly-In will include:

  • The financial crisis in agriculture, short term financial assistance ideas and the need for a much better Farm Bill.
  • The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and why especially now with sinking commodity prices why domestic consumption and utilization is so critical.
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade issues that continue to over promise and under deliver while continuing to drive up the U.S. balance of trade deficit.
  • The massive consolidation in the ag supply sector and ag processing sector, the continued vertical integration of food production, growing market consolidation, shrinking competition, and a completely inadequate response by Congress and our federal anti-trust agencies.

Hansen said “It is up to those of us who care about family farm and ranch agriculture to sound the alarm bells because the financial situation facing agriculture has not received proper attention from the press or elected officials.  The current price levels of ag commodity prices are far below the costs of production.  Something needs to be done.  Congress needs to respond.  All farmers are hurting financially, especially young and beginning farmers.

Hansen said each of Nebraska Farmers Union’s seven districts that cover the state of Nebraska are sending at least one representative to this Fly-In.  “It is our responsibility to help family farmers and ranchers tell their stories, especially in this time of financial crisis.

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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OCM 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda

For Immediate Release

Organization for Competitive Markets Announces 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda

Preserving Independent Family Agriculture through Competitive Markets

For Media: OCM Pres. Mike Callicrate—(785) 332-8218 or John Hansen VP—(402) 476-8815

For Conference and Registration Information: Pat Craycraft—(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731

LINCOLN, NE.  Mike Callicrate, President of             The Organization of Competitive Markets (OCM) announced that OCM is holding its 18th Annual Conference, August 19-20, 2016, at the Doubletree Hilton, Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This year’s program features keynote presentations by four nationally recognized champions of family agriculture and competitive markets:

  • Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, will the noon keynote speaker:

Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming.” 

  • Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and national expert on trade policy and TPP will be the afternoon keynote speaker:

We are Winning the TPP Battle, But How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?

  • Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow in the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth Program, and widely read author on market concentration will keynote the Friday evening banquet on his latest book:

Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction

  • Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute will provide a keynote presentation on the recent acceleration of major ag input mergers under consideration which has the rural sector wondering about their future in a system with no competition or choices:

“Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector”

OCM President Mike Callicrate said, “We are pleased to move our annual OCM Conference back to Nebraska and Omaha this year.  We are really excited about the top notch set of speakers we have with us this year who will focus on the all-important issues of agricultural markets and trade policy.  We encourage food producers and food eaters to attend and interact with our national experts.  If you care about the future of family farm agriculture, you should attend this year’s annual meeting.”

OCM Vice President John Hansen called on the OCM members in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Minnesota to drive to Omaha for this year’s conference.  “This year’s OCM speakers are the national experts you always wished you had the opportunity to listen to and meet.  Omaha is centrally located, and affordable.  Registration fees are $50 and room rates are $99 if you register by August 5th.  In addition to the outstanding national speakers, we will have panel discussions on the proposed Costco Poultry project, Right to Repair, legislative updates and checkoffs,” Hansen concluded.

For conference registration, call Pat Craycraft at:

(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731 or go to: www.competitivemarkets.com

For Lodging Reservations:  Call Elaina (402) 636-4906 by  August 5th at $99 or http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/O/OMAH-DT-OCM-20160817/index.jhtml

Reclaiming the agricultural marketplace for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

Farm groups say priority for state agriculture is property tax reform

Omaha World Herald

 

6 major farm groups say priority for state agriculture is property tax reform, not right-to-farm measure

By Martha Stoddard / World-Herald Bureau

7.21.16

LINCOLN — Leaders of six major farm organizations have joined forces to declare property tax reform, not constitutional protection for a “right to farm,” as the key priority for keeping Nebraska agriculture strong.

The Nebraska Ag Leaders Working Group released a statement Wednesday saying that any effort to enact right-to-farm protections should be done in state law, not the state constitution.

The group also said that other issues are more important to the “viability and growth” of agriculture.

“We are united in our belief that protecting our members’ interests and the future of agriculture isn’t about a single ballot measure or initiative,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

He said the joint statement was the product of considerable research and discussion among the six groups in recent weeks.

The statement represents a change of heart for most of them — and a major hurdle for future efforts to enact a right-to-farm proposal.

During the recent legislative session, four of the six backed a right-to-farm measure introduced by State Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell.

The four were the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Pork Producers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association.

The Farm Bureau took a neutral position, but raised several questions about the measure’s potential effects.

Legislative Resolution 378CA made it out of committee but faced a filibuster and was tabled for the year.

On Wednesday, Kuehn said he plans to keep pushing for a constitutional amendment despite the six groups’ lack of support.

He said it could take several years and several versions of a right-to-farm proposal to get something passed. But he argued that a state law would not offer enough protection because it could be changed by the next Legislature. “We will work through the process of what seems best,” Kuehn said.

A spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, who had backed the right-to-farm proposal this year, offered a more noncommittal response to the ag leaders’ statement.

“Gov. Ricketts continues to support agriculture as an industry against outside extremist groups that oppose animal agriculture and spread misinformation about ag technology,” said Taylor Gage, while adding that the governor has heard about the priority of property tax relief.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, which is sometimes at odds with those involved in the new working group, praised their new statement.

He said the Nebraska Farmers Union had opposed Kuehn’s right-to-farm measure and, like other ag groups, considers property tax reform its top priority.

“These are the guys who are usually on the opposite side of us on all the corporate farming issues,” he said. “I am very pleased they have taken what we believe is an appropriate position.”

Nelson said the new working group represents a new venture by the six organizations, which have often worked together but never developed joint policy positions.

He said a couple of major concerns led to their position on right-to-farm protection.

First, ag leaders from states that have passed or considered right-to-farm protections urged extreme caution with such measures, he said. They warned that constitutional amendments must be worded carefully to avoid unintended consequences, which are difficult to correct.

“All the way across the board, we were cautioned to go slow on the issue,” Nelson said.

Right-to-farm measures passed in North Dakota in 2012 and Missouri in 2014. Voters will weigh in on a measure in Oklahoma in November.

Secondly, he said, the Nebraska leaders concluded that other issues are more pressing for farmers, ranchers and livestock feeders, and attempting to pass right-to-farm protection would take away from efforts to address those concerns.

“Our efforts are targeted to immediate challenges, such as making sure high property tax burdens aren’t the reason families are pushed out of agriculture,” Nelson said.

Barb Cooksley, president of Nebraska Cattlemen, said other concerns include access to new technology and biotechnology, sound regulations and better communication with customers.

According to their statement, the ag leaders’ goal will be to work together in addressing those concerns, along with opposing “anti-agriculture and non-scientific legislative, regulatory and public relations agendas intended to impose unsubstantiated animal rights, environment or social codes” on agriculture and agri-business.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583,martha.stoddard@owh.com

NeFU Welcomes Two Checkoff Reform Bills in Senate

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Richard Oswald: 660-787-0222 mofarmersunion@gmail.com

John Hansen: 402-476-8815 john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Missouri and Nebraska Farmers Union Welcome Two Checkoff Reform Bills in Senate

Presidents of Missouri and Nebraska Farmers Union issued a joint press release in response to the filing of two Bills in the U.S. Senate that deal with commodity checkoff reforms.  Senators Lee from Utah and Booker from New Jersey co-sponsored S.3201, the Commodity Checkoff Program Improvement Act, that provides a basic set of provisions that all commodity checkoff programs would have to comply with. Those reforms would restrict using vendors who lobby, reduce conflict of interest within programs, prevent checkoff money from being used to disparage other commodities or products, increase public transparency, and require full program audits every five years.

Senator Lee introduced S.3200, the Voluntary Checkoff Program Participation Act that would make all federal check-off programs voluntary.

Richard Oswald, President of the Missouri Farmers Union said “When checkoff programs are producer controlled and keep their focus on research and full utilization of domestic production, they get high marks from farmers and growers. When commodity program board members who are political appointees fail to use standard competitive business bidding practices for vendors, primarily fund one particular commodity organization that engages in political speech and lobbies for policies that a large number of farmers oppose, they get low marks from farmers.  Those perceptions are what you would expect. Farmers focused on getting ahead don’t like their hard earned money being used against their own best interests, especially when most checkoffs today are mandatory.”

John Hansen, President of the Nebraska Farmers Union referred to the National Farmers Union (NFU) policy set by the elected delegates at the March 2016 NFU Convention:  “We support a voluntary checkoff, with producer participation determined at the point of sale.  Our support for producer-financed commodity research and promotion programs is determined by the extent to which producers who are actively involved in production agriculture control the programs.”

Both Oswald and Hansen said that the difference in the operation and functioning of federal commodity programs was dramatic, and the perception of individual farmers reflected that wide diversity.  They also agreed that USDA oversight needed to be increased to insure that checkoff  programs were being operated as they were intended and, given the wide range of commodity program structure and operation and corresponding perceptions on the part of farmers, more appropriate uniform federal guidelines that applied to all checkoffs was in order.

Oswald pointed out that checkoffs are taxes paid by farmers; “Checkoffs are a form of involuntary excise tax collected at the point of sale by all the mandatory checkoff programs.  That means the checkoffs ought to be as transparent and accountable as any comparable form of representative democratic government,” he said.

Hansen thanked Senators Lee and Booker for their thoughtful efforts.  “We hope that these two bills can begin a conversation in the country and also in Congress about the best way to insure that our commodity checkoffs are structured and operated in a fashion that is consistent with the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct.  For too long, Congress has failed to do a top to bottom review of the federal checkoffs they created.  Oversight is not just a good idea, it is an obligation incurred when federal programs of any kind are created.”

 

NeFU Says 4 Public Poultry Contract Info Meetings Were Good Start

For Immediate Release

Contact:  John Hansen

402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Says Four Public Information Meetings on Poultry Contracts Were a Good Start

                       

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen reported that the four public information meetings his organization co-sponsored with the Organization for Competitive Markets, Farm Aid, Nebraska Communities United and GC Resolve last week were well attended and constructive.  A total of two hundred people attended the meetings held in West Point, Columbus, Wahoo, and Arlington.

“Farmers, bankers, and members of the community came together to hear from two nationally recognized experts on poultry contracts.  Lynn Hayes has been providing legal assistance to contract poultry growers in trouble for 25 years.  Very few lawyers have that amount of background and experience.  Mike Weaver is a long-term contract producer and President of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginia’s.  His honest, straight-forward approach is well respected.

The well-known and long-standing problems with traditional poultry industry contracts were identified and discussed.  “Hopefully, the more problems that are identified, the more remedy is possible,” Hansen said.  “It is essential that contract producers understand all the risks and obligations that go with poultry production so those issues are properly addressed in the binding contracts they will be asked to sign.  Our goal was to help farmers gather more information so they could know more about what goes with poultry production issues and poultry contracts.”

Hansen noted that Costco’s good reputation was cause for optimism, but based on the history and practices of the poultry industry, openly sharing the particulars to be addressed in the contracts is warranted.  “The contracts determine all of the production particulars, liabilities, obligations, and revenues.  “What might be a good deal for the ag bankers might not be such a good deal for the farmers,” Hansen said.  “This would not be the first time our banker friends shopped around ventures that worked far better for them than it did for farmers.”

“The draft pro forma financial documents being circulated are far from complete or accurate.  They do not include costs for labor, a litter storage building, a shed for the electrical generator, specialized equipment for the bedding, or the professional costs for obtaining as well as farmer costs for complying with local zoning permits and state Title 30 livestock waste permits,” Hansen said.  “The rate of return to farmers drops quickly when including those costs.”

“These meetings were designed to start the conversation in the ag community on what farmers need to have and need to avoid in poultry contracts. Since there is no broiler market, the poultry market determines how much farmers get paid for their work, risk, and capital investment.  Hopefully, farmers will work together to share information for their mutual benefit.  Since our farmers have little or no experience with poultry contracts, information sharing is essential,” Hansen said.  “NeFU has experience in working with landowners with wind contracts and oil pipeline easements.  The more farmers work together and share information, the better it is for everyone.  Our organization is a service organization for farmers.  We are glad to be of assistance.”

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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Nebraska’s Energy Future: A Community Conversation

Nebraska’s Energy Future: A Community Conversation
June 22nd on UNK’s Campus, Copeland Room 140, 6:30-8:30 P.M.
Free Coffee and Pie Served
Nebraska’s Public Power system is unique in that it is the only publicly owned state run electric utility system in the nation. This means we all should have a say when it comes to the decisions involved in keeping our lights on. Right now the State’s Energy Office, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and our Public Power Districts are planning for Nebraska’s energy future. The State Energy Office and these agencies have been tasked with putting together a comprehensive State Energy Plan that looks at the cost of fuel, future customer growth, where we currently get our power from, future generation options, and environmental regulations. The final plan will likely include recommendations for future energy investments and other decisions regarding our public power system. These decisions will affect all Nebraskans. Customers from around the state should be a part of this discussion so community members from around the state have decided to host several community conversations on this topic. Nebraskans share many concerns and interests like our state’s changing utility rates, federal environmental regulations, future changes in our infrastructure, and the shifting costs of renewable energy and efficiency options. Nebraska faces many challenges when planning our energy future and this forum allows customers to ask questions of their local elected leaders, utility folks, and energy advocates on a range of topics relating to public power and Nebraska’s energy future. These conversations will take place in communities around the state throughout the year, so stay tuned for a conversation near you.
The Panelists;
 Community Action Partnership. Our coalition believes programs that emphasize reducing and conserving our energy consumption like commercial and residential weatherization projects, especially for low income families that struggle to keep their lights on, are good for the environment and our pocket books, and therefore should be a large part of our state’s energy plan. For this reason we have invited Community Action Partnership to be a part of the conversation on June 22nd.
 Kearney Mayor, Stan Clouse. Kearney is doing it’s part to keep your lights on and your utility bills low. Join in the conversation with Kearney’s Mayor, Stan Clouse, as we learn about the new city solar project and all of the other great sustainable things the city is doing.
 Nebraska Wildlife Federation Director, Duane Hovorka. The Federation has been Nebraska’s voice for people who love wildlife and wild places since 1970, and Hovorka has been part of a state-wide initiative to move Nebraska’s electric utilities towards clean energy solutions.
Our Format is all about hearing from you! After our panelists speak on a range of energy topics feel free to grab some coffee and pie and join in the conversation.
This event is being hosted by a coalition of environmental and energy advocates like the Center for Rural Affairs, League of Conservation Voters, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, League of Women Voters, BOLD Nebraska, Nebraska Famers Union and the Sierra Club. Our goal is to gain feedback from customer-owners like you that we can take back to our state’s capital and discuss with law and policy makers in our legislature and other state agencies.
Questions or comments? Email graham.jordison@sierraclub.org

For Immediate Release: Poultry Contract Informational Meetings Announced

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

John Hansen (402) 476-8815

Graham Christensen (402) 217-5217

 

Poultry Contract Informational Meetings Announced

LINCOLN, NE.  In response to the proposed construction of a Costco-owned chicken processing plant in Nebraska, two national experts on poultry contracts and the poultry industry will make presentations and answer questions from participants at four upcoming area informational meetings scheduled for June 20-21-22-23.

Mike Weaver, a long time poultry contract grower and cattle producer from Fort Seybert, W. Va., serves as President of the Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias.  He is also on the OCM (Organization for Competitive Markets) Board of Directors.  Mike’s years of experience as a grower make him an expert in identifying contract problem areas to be improved or avoided.

Lynn Hayes, Senior Attorney and Program Director of the Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc., has many years of experience working with poultry producers and the issues they experience with their contracts.  She is a nationally known and respected expert on poultry contracts.

All four meetings are free and open to the public, and will serve food.  Please RSVP to (402) 936-4870.

 

The four meeting time and locations are:

12:00 to 2:00 PM Monday, June 20th at Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave., West Point

12:00 to 2:00 PM Tuesday, June 21st at Columbus Library, 2504 14th St., Columbus

7:00 to 9:00 PM Wednesday, June 22nd at Saunders County Historical Society, 240 N. Walnut St., Wahoo

7:00 to 9:00 PM Thursday, June 23rd Arlington Multipurpose Senior Center, 305 N. 3rd St., Arlington

 

The series of meetings are being co-sponsored and financed by a combination of national, state, and local organizations: OCM (Organization for Competitive Markets), Farm Aid, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, Nebraska Communities United, and GC Resolve.

“The time to fully understand the binding provisions of the proposed contracts is before you sign, not after you commit for 15 years,” said Mike Callicrate, OCM President.  “We hope farmers take advantage of the expertise these national experts will be sharing.”

“Through our farmer hotline, Farm Aid knows first-hand the disastrous consequences of abusive poultry contracts. The poultry industry has worked to the benefit of poultry integrators, at the expense of producers, workers and communities,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar.  “Unless farmers have more power in the relationship with integrators and unless they have fair contracts that establish and protect their rights, the sad result will be more farms lost. Nebraska farmers and Costco have an opportunity to lead the way to much needed improvements in the contract poultry industry. The relationship between integrators and farmers is in desperate need of balance.”

“The problems with poultry contracts are well known and longstanding. Farmers Union, OCM and others successfully got USDA GIPSA poultry contract reforms included in the 2008 Farm Bill.  The reforms designed to address abusive and unfair market practices including poultry processor retaliation against poultry producers in 2008 are yet to be implemented by USDA.  Tragically, poultry processors continue to flex their political muscle in Congress to get riders attached in Appropriations Committees preventing USDA funding from implementing the law of the land. That is a disgrace,” said Nebraska Farmers Union President and OCM Vice President John Hansen.  “The industry standard is mighty low and one-sided.”

“We thank Farm Aid, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, and OCM for their financial support, and all the organizations that have been willing to partner with us to make this set of outstanding meetings possible.  We hope farmers attend and benefit from these meetings,” said Randy Ruppert, a local leader with Nebraska Communities United.

NeFU Hails LB886 as Big Help for Volunteer Emergency Responders

For Immediate Release                                                        

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Hails LB886 as a Big Help for Volunteer Emergency Responders

 

LINCOLN (April 28, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) lauds the passage of LB886, the Priority Bill of Senator Al Davis. The bill passed on Final Reading with no dissenting votes on April 12th and signed by the Governor April 18th.

“Thanks to the efforts and leadership of Senator Davis, the Legislature has helped offset a portion of the substantial financial costs incurred by our volunteer Emergency Responders,” said John Hansen, President of NeFU.  “Our volunteer Emergency Responders have their own businesses and farms to run.  When they are helping their neighbors in their time of medical need, they are doing so at a considerable personal cost to themselves or their employers.”

LB886 provides for a $250 tax credit to volunteer EMTs, rescue squad members, and volunteer firefighters. To qualify, recipients of the tax credit must first meet certain criteria certifying their status as a volunteer emergency responder. This criterion is drawn directly from the Volunteer Emergency Responders Recruitment and Retention Act, which was passed into law in 1999. The criteria is used by volunteer emergency responders to earn points for participation in activities such as emergency response calls, training courses, participation in drills, and fire prevention education activities.

“Rural Nebraska depends on volunteer Emergency Responders to provide services 24-7 and in all places in Nebraska. Even though the state does not have a Voluntary Emergency Responders group, these folks from all over Nebraska have been known to provide services and fight fires on state property.  The state should be providing funding for this important incentive. Were it not for our volunteers and their employers donating their time, rural Nebraska would either go without emergency services, or be forced to pay for these expensive services with higher property taxes,” said Hansen.

Senator Davis recruited 27 co-sponsors for his bill. The bill was also supported by Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, Nebraska Professional Firefighters’ Association, Nebraska Emergency Medical Services, NeFU and many other groups supporting rural issues.  “After 10 years of working this issue, Sen. Davis was finally able to get the ball over the goal line,” Hansen said.

“I am glad to see that Nebraska state senators understand how important it is that we recognize our volunteers with this tax credit. In rural Nebraska, we rely heavily on our volunteers. Often, these brave men and women leave their homes, families, and jobs at a moment’s notice in order to keep their communities safe. This is just a minimum recognition of the work that they do,” Senator Davis said.

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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NeFU Says Vic Jensen Sentencing Decision Confirms Need for Legislative Review

For Immediate Release                                                         

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Says Vic Jensen Sentencing Decision Confirms the Need for a Legislative Review and Changes to Nebraska’s Livestock Animal Welfare Act

                       

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) said Judge C. Matthew Samuelson’s April 26th sentencing of Vic Jensen, a fifth-generation Burt County livestock producer, confirmed their worst fears about the inherent flaws in the Nebraska Animal Welfare Act.  In addition to a $1,000 fine and 45 days in jail, Judge Samuelson banned Vic Jensen from owning or possessing livestock for 10 years for two first-time misdemeanor convictions of animal mistreatment.

 

“Vic Jensen is a trained veterinary technician, a military veteran, a lifetime livestock raiser, and is a nationally known and respected breeder of top quality quarter horses,” said John Hansen, NeFU President. “If this could happen to Vic Jensen, all Nebraska livestock producers are at risk. That is very alarming.”

 

“NeFU opposed the current law during its passage because it failed to provide an adequate medical fact finding process needed to distinguish between neglect and complicated medical situations,” said Hansen. “It also failed to provide due process protection for private property rights, subjecting livestock producers to a complaint driven process vulnerable to malicious misuse by animal advocacy groups, competitors, or neighbors with a grudge.”

 

Another problem NeFU predicted with current law is its failure to provide adequate guidelines for sentencing.  “We feared a livestock producer could be put out of business for a first-time misdemeanor, and that’s exactly what’s happened in this worst case situation. That is not a ‘Livestock Friendly’ or reasonable approach,” Hansen said.

 

NeFU complimented the Burt County Sheriff for working with Vic Jensen to develop an appropriate management plan to resolve his herd health problem.  Tragically, the herd was well on its way to improved health when the Burt County Attorney disregarded the signed agreement and chose to prosecute Vic Jensen to the fullest extent of the law. That was a terrible mistake. The problem was compounded when Judge Samuelson failed to force the County Attorney to produce the full, signed agreement between the Sheriff and Vic Jensen at the trial.

 

Hansen said his organization supports responsible livestock husbandry practices and does not condone either neglect or abuse of livestock. “The Vic Jensen case amounts to an established livestock producer who unknowingly purchased toxic contaminated hay resulting in a complicated medical problem for his herd, and he was unjustly put out of business despite his best efforts to deal with his medical problem in a responsible manner. After all, Vic Jensen is a Vet Tech.  Neither justice or common sense prevailed in this case,” said Hansen.

 

Hansen said his organization believes that each herd health situation should be considered as one charge, not individual charges for each animal in the herd impacted.  “When there is a herd health problem, it makes no sense to bring charges by the head, especially when the majority of the animals in the same pen are doing fine.”

 

NeFU is hopeful the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee will study and reexamine this law this summer and fall. “It is too bad Sen. Schilz’ LB393 did not get sent to the floor for consideration this session.  When our livestock producers are facing a major herd health problem, they need and deserve professional help, not legal efforts to put them out of business. The Nebraska Animal Welfare Act needs to be reviewed and amended,” Hansen concluded.

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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