SWEETWATER, TEXAS (SEPT. 6, 2001)--Texas Farmers Union (TFU) members will attend National Farmers union's (NFU) annual legislative fly-in, September 9-12, in Washington, D.C. The TFU delegation will join hundreds of farmers and ranchers from throughout the nation to petition members of Congress and the Bush administration for better federal farm policies.
"It is a critical time for this grassroots effort since the House-Agriculture committee has already sent an undesirable farm bill to Congress," said Wes Sims, TFU president. We hope to convince members from both the House and Senate to adopt a farm bill that provides a reasonable safety net for producers rather than continuing the failed 'freedom to farm' policies."
The TFU members will attend educational briefings to familiarize themselves with details of the NFU farm bill proposal and the procedure and players involved in passing and implementing farm policies. They will then meet with various U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, including Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. In addition, Farmers union members plan to visit with each congressional office prior to their September 12 departure.
The current farm bill was enacted in 1996 when total U.S. net farm income peaked at nearly $55 billion, with just 13 percent or $7.3 billion coming from government payments. By 1999, downward pressure on commodity prices resulted in total U.S. net farm income dropping to 43.4 billion with nearly half or $20.6 billion of this amount coming from government programs and emergency assistance.
The farm bill proposed by NFU strengthens market prices and enables producers to get more of their income from the market by increasing loan rate levels and establishing a limited farmer-owned reserve. The NFU farm bill proposal also addresses market concentration, environment, energy and renewable fuels.
"Farmers Union is providing one of the least costly, yet most comprehensive, farm bill programs of any organization, which ought to appeal to members of congress from both sides of the aisle," Sims said. "Our goal at this fly-in is to point out these features to lawmakers."
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