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NFU adopts special orders on dairy policy, beef check-off

National Farmers Union (NFU) delegates adopt four special orders of business, and amended a previously passed order -- all revolving around U.S. dairy/beef policies.

National Farmers Union (NFU) delegates adopted four special orders of business, and amended a previously passed order at the recent One Hundred and Tenth Anniversary Convention in La Vista, Neb.

“Through the special orders passed today, Farmers Union delegates have indicated the priorities of the national organization,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The issues covered in these orders are critical to U.S. family farmers, ranchers and fishermen and we will work over the coming year with the administration and Congress to be sure our voices are heard.”

Delegates amended a previous order related to the 2012 farm bill addressing interstate meat shipments. The new order reads that the livestock title should include language that deems products inspected under a state cooperative agreement, which are equal to or exceed USDA inspection standards, eligible for interstate trade.

In light of recent information stating accountability issues concerning the beef check-off and implementation of programs, NFU delegates adopted a special order directly related to the check-off.

“NFU supports amending the Beef Promotion Act, thereby allowing the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) to become a completely independent and freestanding organization,” the order says. “The amended act should state that no organization may receive contracts for more than 50 percent of the total check-off dollars on an annual basis. No beef check-off dollars can be used to pay for any portion of salaries or benefits of people employed by a policy/lobbying organization or of an individual consultant/lobbyist.”

The order continues, “NFU calls for complete separation between any policy organization and the Federation of State Beef Councils to provide for complete check-off accountability. We also believe any increase in the check-off should have to be tied to a two-year periodic producer referendum on the check-off program. Finally, NFU calls for the rewrite of the beef check-off act to house the program with other mandatory check-off programs.”

To represent U.S. family dairies, the delegates passed a special order urging any changes to dairy policy acknowledge the lack of market power among dairy farmers by including meaningful supply management tools.

“If margin insurance goes forward, efforts to ensure that family dairies can remain competitive must be instituted, such as premium subsidies for the first four to five million pounds of milk to help offset the cost of the margin insurance program should be included in the program,” the statement says.

In a third special order, NFU calls on Congress to replace the fast-track trade authority with a forward-looking trade negotiating process that ensures U.S. trade expansion.

In support of beginning farmers, the delegation passed a special order that stated support for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011 as a way to support beginning farmers and ranchers.

“U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has stated a goal of establishing 100,000 new farmers and ranchers,” the order says. “In order to continue to address these critical concerns, additional legislation and federal action, including the 2012 farm bill, must be enacted and funded to meet the unique needs and barriers facing beginning farmers and ranchers and ensure they can enter and sustain farming or ranching as a viable livelihood.” 

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