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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Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Announces Primary Endorsements

Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Announces Primary Endorsements 

For Immediate Release

Lincoln, NE. NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 4,000 farm and ranch families announced its Primary endorsements for the Legislature, State Board of Education, and Public Power Districts.

NEBFARMPAC Secretary John Hansen said “This year we have 5 Nebraska Farmers Union members running for Legislature, one for State Board of Education, and one for Omaha Public Power District.  We encourage our members to become educated on the issues and be constructively engaged in the public policy process. We are always pleased when our members step up and assume the risks and responsibilities and run for public office. We encourage them to consider serving at all levels of government.  Public service comes with good citizenship.”

Based on their position on family farm and ranch issues and input from county and district officers, the NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors announced the following endorsements for candidates for the Primary election with NeFU members in bold:

 

Nebraska Legislature:

Carol Blood in Legislative District 3; Mike McDonnell in Legislative District 5; Tony Vargas in Legislative District 7; Sara Howard for Legislative District 9; Jake Seeman in Legislative District 13; Joni Albrecht in Legislative District 17; Larry Scherer in Legislative District 21; Jerry Johnson in Legislative District 23; Kate Bolz in Legislative District 29; Dan Quick in Legislative District 35; Bill Armbrust in Legislative District 39; Al Davis in Legislative District 43; and Sue Crawford in Legislative District 45.

 

State Board of Education:

Lisa Fricke in District 2 and Rachel Wise in District 3.

 

Nebraska Public Power District:

Gary Thompson in Subdivision 8 and Zak Hookstra in Subdivision 10.

 

Omaha Public Power District:

Rick Yoder in Subdivision 4 and Craig Moody in Subdivision 5.

 

NEBFARMPAC will make additional endorsements after the Primary Election.

 

NEBFARMPAC is the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, which is a non-partisan, not-for-profit general farm organization founded in 1913 with a mission to protect and enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities.  NeFU is the respected voice of family farm and ranch agriculture with more than 4,000 family memberships.

12 Nebraskans Attend NFU 14th Anniversary Convention in Minneapolis

 

NeFU President Hansen Re-elected NFU Treasurer

12 Nebraskans Attend NFU 14th Anniversary Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

For Immediate Release

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815 Office or 402-580-8815 Cell

www.nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen was re-elected National Farmers Union (NFU) Treasurer by the NFU Board of Directors at the 114th Annual National Farmers Union Convention held March 5-8 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Radisson Blu hotel on the Mall of America.

 

12 NeFU members attended the NFU Convention.  NeFU President John Hansen said:  “The hotel was attached to the Mall of America, so in addition to the excellent local tours, attendees enjoyed their convention free times.  The speakers and program were excellent.  As always, when our conventions are in driving distance of our members, they attend.  Our grassroots driven organization is always well served when more of our members can attend.”

 

The NFU Convention delegates from Nebraska were:  Merlin Friesen, Filley; Gus Von Roenn, Omaha; Vern Jantzen, Plymouth; Graham Christensen, Lyons; and NeFU President John Hansen.

 

Other members attending were Stan Brown and Jeremiah Picard, Lincoln; Paul Poppe, Scribner; John & Mardelle Goeller, Pilger; Jeff Downing, Elkhorn, and Ben Gotschall of Raymond.

 

NFU Convention highlights included a keynote address from United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Four Star General Wesley Clark; Minnesota’s U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken; and Governor Mark Dayton.  When Minnesota Department of Agriculture Director and former NFU President Dave Frederickson was introduced, he received a standing ovation.

 

In addition to updating NFU’s policy, the 136 delegates adopted 10 Special Orders of Business:

 

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at www.nfu.org.

 

The 2017 National Farmers Union Convention will be held at Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa in San Diego, California March 5-8, 2017.

 

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 Completes Specialty Crops Producer Training

Nebraska Farmers Union Completes Specialty Crops Producer Training

 

Contact:  Jeremiah Picard

402-476-8815 Office or 402-570-3746 Cell

For Immediate Release

 

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) recently completed another food safety training session for specialty crops producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts.  The training was the latest in a series of educational sessions designed to enhance the capacity and profitability for small to midsized specialty crop producers in Nebraska.

 

The training featured nationally recognized expert Atina Diffley of Family Farmed, with a focus on food safety including the recent changes in FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) regulations.  The participants developed and created Food Safety Action Plans needed for sales into new markets, such as schools and grocery stores.
Thanks to the uplink capacity of Southeast Community College, producers were able to participate via the Internet. Prairie Plate, a farm to table restaurant run by Renee and Jerry Cornett, catered the locally sourced food.  Big Red Worms, a local vermicomposting operation, provided a zero waste event, with a 90% reduction in food waste going to the landfill.

 

Jeremiah Picard, NeFU Outreach Director who organized the workshops said, “This training focused on developing solutions to food safety issues faced by small to medium specialty crop producers. The new FDA FSMA regulations impacts most farmers raising specialty crops, so these early trainings early gives producers a running start to find workable solutions. These types of targeted trainings are designed to help insure that our local food and specialty crop producers continue to grow and thrive as they gear up to meet the increasing consumer demand for locally grown foods.  We will be announcing new trainings in the coming months, thanks to continued funding by the USDA AMS. ”

 

One attendee had this to say about the workshops: “Great workshop & speaker. Loved that everything could be composted.”

 

NeFU President John Hansen said “The workshops were designed to increase the economic viability of the participants by providing them with the tools necessary to access new profitable markets including schools, restaurants, grocery stores and other wholesale markets. Thanks to the funding of USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s “Local Food Promotion Program”, we hopefully helped grow the financial capacity of our local food producers to help them meet the growing needs of food consumers.”

 

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. www.nebraskafarmersunion.org

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