With the steadily declining numbers of family farmers and ranchers in America comes a growing need for unity in agriculture. Recent history has proven that when rural interests come together with a collective voice, policymakers listen.
For years, National Farmers Union was a lone voice pushing Congress to reconsider the failed "Freedom to Farm" law. After building a coalition of more than 30 other farm and lending organizations, Farmers Union helped lead the effort to pass the Senate version of the 2002 farm bill, which provided a higher, more stable economic safety net for producers.
A coalition of more than 85 farm and consumer organizations united in support of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for fresh produce and meat products, which resulted in its inclusion in the 2002 farm bill. As efforts have ensued to weaken this beneficial legislation and impede the implementation process, 135 groups have joined Farmers Union in strong support of the COOL law. As a result of this strong grassroots support, the U.S. Senate recently voted overwhelmingly to keep COOL.
Working together, Farmers Union and other farm groups championed emergency disaster relief for crop and livestock production losses due to natural disasters each year from 1998 through 2002. Most recently, the efforts of a coalition of 40 farm groups led to the $3.1 billion disaster aid "down payment" included in the 2003 omnibus appropriations bill.
In April of this year, National Farmers Union and 71 other agriculture, nutrition and conservation groups successfully united to oppose any cuts to programs under the oversight of the House and Senate Agriculture committees and the House Education and Workforce Committee.
Thanks to farm group coalition, the comprehensive energy bill contains renewable energy provisions that will add value to America's farm commodities and provide economic opportunities for rural areas.
These successes were make possible by cooperation among groups that represent farmers and ranchers and the consumers and communities that depend on them. With the multitude of challenges facing rural America today comes a greater responsibility of leadership by those who live there.
I encourage my fellow Texans to actively participate in the organizations that are working to improve the quality of rural life. Working together for family farm agriculture and rural communities, we can make a difference!
|Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556|