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National Farmers Organization

RESOLUTIONS - Adopted January 2014
National Farmers Organization


In keeping with the Bylaws of the National Farmers Organization, these resolutions and statements of position constitute an ongoing expression of the will of the members, as reviewed and modified or reconfirmed in the most recent National Convention.


Preamble

The National Farmers Organization is committed to the collective bargaining concept authorized for farmers and ranchers by the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922. The American family farm or ranch is the most efficient food producing unit in the world. It is a basic source of support for our social, religious and political traditions in the rural communities throughout our country. We call upon all farmers and ranchers to join in the advancement of our bargaining program as an honorable action in pursuit of an acceptable farm economy.

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National Farmers Organization 2014 Recommends the Following Action in Federal Farm Policy


Along with the usual events that impact farm markets such as foreign competition, ever increasing national debt and unpredictable energy costs, we realize that the budget discussions will have an effect on the writing of the Farm Bill. While we recognize that agricultural programs must accept their fair share of budget reductions, National Farmers Organization believes that the next Farm Bill should provide an adequate safety net in times of severe market volatility.

Grain

A sound grain price support operation is considered to be a necessary base for a healthy farm economy, particularly for stable production and pricing of dairy, livestock and poultry production through a bargaining program.

Price support levels for major storable commodities should be based on the cost of production plus a reasonable profit. We would urge that the USDA loan prices be set at $5.00 per bushel on corn, $7.50 per bushel on wheat and $12.00 per bushel on soybeans.

For the national security purposes, supports re-enactment of a farmer-owned grain reserve program with the following provisions: The reserve should be isolated from the market, it is the supply of last resort; and, reserves should be released only at 120% of the above proposed loan rates.

National Farmers Organization supports the continuation of exemption from OSHA grain bin regulations if the farm employs fewer than 10 people and does not provide housing for temporary workers.

National Farmers Organization opposes the EPA proposed reduction in 2014 biofuels target levels. This proposal, if enacted would have the effect of further depressing the price of corn.

The Market-Driven Inventory System would:

Mitigate commodity market volatility both when prices fall below the cost of production and when they spike to extreme highs

Work together with crop insurance and a permanent disaster program to provide comprehensive protection for farmers

Free up money for other important farm bill programs by eliminating direct payments, countercyclical payments and loan deficiency payments, all while providing farmers roughly the same or higher net farm income.

Crop Insurance

National Farmers Organization supports the current funding levels for this program. Because of its effectiveness in protecting farm incomes and its importance in securing operating loans, affordable crop insurance should remain an important part of agricultural policy.

We recognize that more and more organic producers are relying on crop insurance protection. We support the concept that premium rates be commensurate with the payments available for losses incurred.

Conservation Reserve Program

National Farmers Organization strongly supports the CRP program. However, to be effective and fair, it must be fully funded with mandatory funds to enable the program to make competitive payments for the land enrolled in the program.

CRP should be operated in a manner that assures participation up to the maximum acreage allowed by law on highly erodible and other environmentally sensitive land and early-outs should be strongly discouraged. Sod busting of native grassland should be ineligible for soil conservation cost programs as well as any other farm program payments.

Sod busting of native grass land should be ineligible for crop insurance at the county rate for the first five years.

Dairy Policy

National Farmers Organization supports the following concepts in dairy policy.

     1)  Implementation of a growth management program that uses price as an incentive to manage production (form of two-tier pricing)

     2)  Eliminate end product pricing as a base price for milk

     3)  Eliminate make allowances in the Federal Orders

     4)  Establish a broadly based competitive price system as the base price for milk, not just a few select plants that meet a certain criteria such as size of plant or product manufactured.

     5)  As a method of balancing supply with domestic usage, National Farmers Organization supports the current CWT export assistance program and urges its continuation in the future.

National Farmers Organization also supports other actions which may not be written in the Farm Bill.

     1)  Full implementation of the Grain Inspection Packers Stockyard Act (GIPSA) rules and mandatory funding.

     2)  Supports the elimination of packer ownership of livestock production operations, which would help restore competition to the livestock industry.

     3)  National Farmers Organization supports the efforts of several farm organizations who have encouraged our trade representatives to appeal the recent WTO ruling on COOL.

     4)  Trade Agreements We support the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act which mandates trade pact reviews, and establishes uniform standards, protection of workers in developing nations and restoration of Congressional oversight on future agreements.

Commodity Futures Trading

     1)  National Farmers Organization supports legislation that will add transparency to futures markets and close the door to excessive speculation by tightening key investment laws and clarifying the oversight mission of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

     2)  National Farmers Organization along with the Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing is opposed to attempts to allow commodity futures trading in organic commodities, especially due to lack of regulation. We believe farm prices, including those of organics, should be determined at the farm gate. Futures trading would expose the organic markets and producers to the potential for price volatility, speculation and manipulation.

Energy

It is of vital importance to our country that we develop a long-range energy policy. Such a policy must reconcile the conflicting interests between environmental concerns and the need for secure source of energy, with reserves adequate to meet any emergency.

There must be a proper balance of energy sources. A mix of alternative fuels should include grain alcohol, biomass, solar, windmills and the tides to relieve our high dependency on imported petroleum products. We strongly support import fees on imported oil and bio fuels, the income to be earmarked for development of alternative fuels in the United States.

National Farmers Organization supports the passage of the FUELS act which would ease the burden placed on farmers and ranchers by the EPA through the Spills Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Program by raising the exemption from 1320 gallons per farm to 10,000 gallons.

Be it resolved that the National Farmers Organization is concerned about consequences of the current acute shortage of propane on farmers, their farming operations, profitability and families as well as entire communities in rural America. National Farmers Organization encourage members to contact members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture and Energy Committees as well as the Secretary of Energy requesting an investigation of reasons for the shortages and necessary steps to insure alleviation of the shortage for the remainder of the 2014 winter, growing season and fall harvest.

Land Ownership – Estate Taxes

Members of the National Farmers Organization are deeply concerned that the tax code, coupled with the concentration of capital are unfairly favorable to investors who are in position to buy our farmland, including but not limited to, foreign investors, insurance companies, money lenders, and some buyers of farm commodities. National Farmers Organization for these reasons favors the elimination of the 1031 tax exchange for non-farmers.

National Farmers Organization supports the 2013 estate tax law which retains the $5 million dollar individual exemption. We further support the indexing of this amount which set the 2012 rate at $5.12 million and the 2013 rate at $5.25 million. National Farmers Organization additionally supports Spousal Exemption Portability, which allows a surviving spouse to utilize the unused portion of their predeceased spouse's exemption. We also support the use of fair market value at the date of death for asset basis of inherited property, commonly referred to as the "stepped up basis". These provisions are favorable to facilitating the transfer of family owned operations to the next generation.

IRC Section 179 allows a taxpayer to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense rather than requiring those costs to be capitalized and depreciated. The maximum deduction for 2013 was $500,000 and the maximum equipment purchase limit was $2,000,000. For years beginning after December 31, 2013 these limits reverted to a maximum deduction of $25,000 and maximum equipment purchase of $200,000. National Farmers Organization supports increasing these limits to $500,000 maximum deduction and $2,000,000 maximum equipment purchase.

Transportation

The infrastructure in our country is badly in need of updating and repair. National Farmers Organization strongly supports efforts to update and repair our roads, bridges, rail and shipping. This would not only provide a more efficient method of transporting farm production, but would also create jobs and improve our National food security.

Highways

The importance of a highway system to production agriculture, service sector and business should no longer be ignored by our governments elected officials and agencies.

Agriculture needs good roads and bridges in order to move "commodities" to market and secure their input supplies.

Rivers-Locks-Canals and Levees

It has always been the responsibility of governmental agencies to assure that the locks, levees and canals on our river system are properly maintained and designed to meet the needs of the people and business using them.

National Farmers Organization strongly urges the US Congress to full mandatory funding for the Army Corps of Engineers backlog of water infrastructure projects, including much needed repairs to our dams, levees, and locks. We also ask for funding for current and future projects to insure our water supply and flood control.

Ports

The ports of entry to the United States are the ports that give us access to the world with our exported products. There are many ports which are not adequate for new shipping vessels.

Therefore be it resolved that National Farmers Organization encourages the government to immediately embark on a program to rebuild the port system of the United States. It is imperative that we do this to enhance commerce and provide for our National security. We believe that this should be accomplished by using tax and investment incentives from private investors as well as public monies.

Food Labeling

National Farmers Organization

     1)  Believes it is important for consumers to know when and how their food is grown and processed. Food should be labeled as to its country of origin and also whether it contains GMO products.

     2)  Supports the “Know Before You Grow” program being endorsed by other organizations to ask farmers to make sure they are only planting seed varieties that are approved by the European Union and other countries to help protect our export market from losses due to co-mingling of unapproved products.

     3)  Opposes any action by the United States Department of Agriculture to change standards for food and feed products that would be detrimental to farmers, and supports raising the quality standards for all imports to the same high levels as American agriculture. This would truly ensure a level playing field for all farmers. All imported food products must be labeled as to country of origin.

Agency Consolidation

The consolidation and merging of governmental agencies is necessary. Any mergers should be made with the consultation of individuals who will be affected by the action.

Food and Drug Administration Process

The Food and Drug Administration needs to be funded at a level that will allow it to truly function as a regulatory agency. For too long the FDA has been understaffed and does not have the ability to do a "peer review" on the effects of drugs and chemicals which they are responsible for approving.

It is not reassuring to consumers to have people in charge, at the FDA, approve their own research. The "revolving door" from the corporate world to the FDA and back to the same corporation whose product was just approved must end.

CHECK-OFF

NFO supports opportunities for the organic community to exempt itself from payments into conventional commodity check-off orders and opposes any steps to enact a federally mandated organic commodity assessment for advertising, research and promotion as is currently proposed and promoted by the Organic Trade Association and others.

CAPPER-VOLSTEAD ACT

Bargaining rights of individuals appear to be under attack on many fronts. National Farmers Organization opposes any action which might otherwise alter the provisions of the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922 which may threaten the rights of producers to act in association for their mutual benefit in marketing and bargaining initiatives.

HEALTH CARE

It is vital to the sustainment of a safe and affordable food supply that rural Americans have the resources they require to continue living in rural America. Patients and their families rely on prescription drug coverage through private and public insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Administration programs.

National Farmers Organization would continue to support policies that allow for comprehensive prescription drug coverage for all medically necessary medicines.

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Bargaining

A) Agriculture is the largest industry in the nation. The production of all raw food and fiber logically constitutes the base upon which other agricultural sectors are dependent. Because weather, wars, and other factors beyond the producers’ control directly affect prices and availability of markets, the capability to bargain for fair prices is of vital importance. Recent persistent efforts of the national government to force American producers into a world market with little or no protection from competitive, subsidized production from other countries clearly illustrates the need to bargain for fair prices for our production. Farmers are entitled to the right to operate profitably and to extract the dollars needed to do so from the marketplace.

B) This commitment to producer bargaining presumes competition among both buyers and sellers in the marketplace and freedom to act without undue interference by any government agency. The Organization continues its steadfast opposition to legislation that would authorize additional federal supervision of bargaining. Such supervision has the potential to interfere with the bargaining process for organizations representing independent producers. The Organization supports federal bargaining legislation that has the potential to improve and enhance the market position on contract growers such as poultry.

C) The National Farmers Organization continues to support the concept of Marketing Agencies in Common by legally organized cooperatives and farmer associations to increase their collective bargaining power on behalf of their farmer members. The organization continues to work toward making collective bargaining a recognized marketing tool to be used by all farmers. The organization will have as its primary goal master contracts with processors of dairy, meat, and grain products.

D) The National Farmers Organization recommends to all our members that they put 100% of their farm production on a proper contract for sale through the National Farmers Organization where our MaximumMarketing programs are available.

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Domestic Farm Policy

A) We look forward to working with the current U.S. administration on agricultural policies and principles which stimulate the broad U.S. farm economy, and which conserve and sustain the natural resources on which agriculture and the family farmer depends.

B) A farm program should be designed to operate in a supportive fashion while producers seek to balance production with market requirements and bargain collectively for profitable prices. An acceptable farm program would be one designed primarily to stabilize prices at a reasonable level and assure consumers of an adequate supply of nutritious food. It should not be an income relief proposition forcing producers to depend upon checks from the U.S. Treasury.

C) The taxpayer’s cost of a program should be considered carefully in relation to the costs of finished food products available at the retail level. In no other developed nation does the consumer spend a smaller percentage of average income for food. If we permit elimination of more independent producers, we risk becoming dependent on imports or large corporate farms for the national food supply.

D) Legislation should be adopted by the federal government giving agriculture the legal ability to market its commodities at 100% of parity, such as was adopted under the Steagall Amendment and other federal laws during World War II. This would contribute substantially to balancing the federal budget and uplifting of the total U.S. economy.

E) Family farmers and ranchers, agricultural commodity buyers, processors, distributors, retailers, and other segments of the food industry have all been lumped together and called “Agribusiness.” We believe that family farmers and ranchers should be classified as a separate and distinct entity from other segments of the food industry and should be called “Production and sustainable Agriculture” by the USDA, land-grant universities, commodity check-off groups, and other farm organizations.

F) A diversified family farm economy rather than a concentrated farm economy is the best defense against bioterrorism. However, in the event of an act of bio-terrorism toward any agricultural production, it is essential that the USDA have in place a fair and defined policy of indemnification for producers, who suffer directly or indirectly, and that it be properly funded.

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Grain

A sound grain price support operation is considered to be a necessary base for a healthy farm economy, particularly for stable production and pricing of dairy, livestock and poultry production through a bargaining program.

When properly managed by administrators who want the program to operate favorably for farmers and the rural communities, an acceptable farm program can be operated at little or no cost to the taxpayer. We recommend that the Secretary of Agriculture raise the loan rate to farmers’ cost of production.

Price support levels for major storable commodities should be based on the cost of production plus a reasonable profit. We would urge that the USDA loan prices be set at $5.00 per bu. on corn, $7.50 per bu. on wheat and $12.00 per bu. on soybeans.

All grain testing and sampling equipment at delivery terminals should be subject to Federal Export Standards and random inspections by the Department of Agriculture of each state.

More specifically, the National Farmers Organization:

A) Proposes changing the Commodity Credit Corporation 9 month marketing loans to 18 month non-recourse loans, with the USDA paying storage after the initial 9 months.

B) Supports the USDA reinstating the non-recourse loan and elimination of the marketing loan.

C) Supports an effort by all U.S. and international grain producers to voluntarily set aside 3 to 5 percent of all tillable acres. National Farmers Organization supports all farmers, worldwide in their efforts to raise general price levels of grain to their cost of production plus a profit.

D) For national security purposes, supports re-enactment of a farmer-owned grain reserve program with the following provisions: The reserve should be isolated from the market, it is the supply of last resort; and, reserves should be released only at 120% of the cost of production.

E) Supports the continuation of a low interest loan program by the USDA expressly for the purpose of construction of on-farm grain storage facilities.

F) Supports efforts to make firms creating biotech products accountable to all grain producers for damaging U.S. grain exports through the release of seed unapproved in the European Union, and the farmers’ consequent lost revenue from grain sales.

G) Opposes any research by either private companies or government agencies on the terminator gene.

H) Supports an effort to promote transparency and fair action in the grain and livestock markets by causing legislation to amend Section 8 of the Commodity Exchange Act, whereby the CFTC would disclose the position of large traders, as defined by the CFTC, in futures markets.

I) Supports federal grain inspection and opposes privatization of such grain inspection.

J) Crop Reports – the methodology used by the USDA to obtain Crop Reports should be revised to accurately report actual bushels available to the market or for feed use, or should be postponed until that report can better be attained.

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Dairy

The National Farmers Organization members interpret current efforts of the Administration and Congress as not effective in adequately raising prices paid to producers. The Organization supports only those government dairy programs that treat all dairy producers equitably. The Organization has consistently undertaken to work within the federal milk marketing order system.

More specifically, the National Farmers Organization:

A) Urges USDA to establish a $20.00 hundredweight (cwt.) floor in the Class III price.

B) Believes that the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, as amended 7 U.S.C. 4501-4514, that established the 15 cents per hundredweight (cwt.) promotion assessment has not returned the profits from promotion programs to the dairy farmer. However, it has enhanced profits to every other segment of the dairy industry. National Farmers Organization believes that promotion of dairy products is necessary but would like to see the promotion assessment deduction be replaced by a 1% per cwt. deduction.

C) Encourages our Dairy Department to continue monitoring the activity of the USDA and to take every measure possible to educate producers on any changes that will have an impact on their personal welfare.

D) Proposes that USDA personnel, state authorities, and milk marketing order administrators coordinate the determination of high standards to be used in all milk testing and administration of those standards in a uniform manner.

E) Encourages the Secretary of Agriculture to put in place procedures which will ensure accurate reporting of cheese inventories.

F) Supports petitioning FDA to change the current standard from a minimum 8.25% solids-non-fat to a nonfat solids/protein level equivalent to not less than the national average of nonfat solids/protein contained in producer milk. The federal standard of identity for fluid milk should accurately reflect the composition of milk naturally produced by the cow.

G) Endorses government action establishing minimum standards for milk solids and butterfat content in any product labeled “ice cream” and opposes any actions by the FDA that would reduce the amount of milk solids and increase the proportion of caseinates and similar ingredients.

H) Urges that milk futures trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange be limited to no more than $1.00 per hundredweight per trading day.

I) Supports a Dairy Supply Management program based on the following concepts:

(1) Each dairy producer will be allowed a franchise to produce a given number of pounds per year, based on producer history and the projected commercial needs of the country;

(2) A pricing system be implemented which sets the price for the franchised pounds at cost of production plus a reasonable profit and any excess pounds be priced at a level which serves as a production deterrent.

J) Urges that in order to best represent the views of constituents, all promotional board members are to be elected by dairy farmers, not appointed by government.

K) Urges USDA to use the retail milk price in determining producer milk price formulas.

L) Will actively engage in the process of extracting premiums from processors for all rBGH/BsT free milk produced by members.

M) Opposes change to U.S. cheese standards to correlate with international cheese standards (CODEX) which allow for casein and non-dairy ingredients to be recognized as natural cheese.

N) Supports maintaining only the current ingredients allowed for cheese to be classified as “natural cheese” and labeling of dairy based products that contain casein and non-dairy ingredients as “imitation cheese”, and supports legislation which would restrict imports of MPC (Milk Protein Concentrates) and Casein.

O) Supports all producer based pricing agencies' efforts to establish cost of production base pricing in all areas of the country.

P) Supports a federal order change that would charge the buyers (processors) of all milk for all hauling costs — in addition to the milk base price.

Q) Insists on floor prices in milk contracts with the handlers to whom we market milk.

Due to the increasing numbers of producers involved in seasonal production, National Farmers Organization urges the USDA to make sure that seasonal producers are eligible to vote in all referenda.

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Livestock

A primary objective of our National Farmers Organization collective bargaining effort is to obtain profitable prices for our livestock.

Accordingly, the organization supports:

A) Farmers who recognize that a quality environment and humane handling of livestock are necessary prerequisites for profitable livestock production. The National Farmers Organization opposes any unrealistic regulations.

B) A congressional investigation and action on the apparent failure of the agencies responsible to enforce meat import quotas and quality standards.

C) Labeling of all imported meats showing country of origin and entry date.

D) Mandatory price reporting of all livestock sales, boxed beef, pork and lamb.

E) Legislation and regulatory action to reimburse farmers and ranchers for livestock lost to non-domestic predators, especially in areas where such predators are deliberately introduced.

F) National Farmers Organization will actively pursue an identification, eradication, and indemnification program for Johne's disease acting with other farm organizations and the USDA.

G) National Farmers Organization acknowledges the seriousness of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and its effect on our member farmers and ranchers as well as consumers. We therefore support the following:

    — That the U.S.D.A. develop a system with the necessary staff and resources to test all suspect cattle.

    — That the U.S.D.A develop reliable and fast live cattle testing.

    — That producers be indemnified for losses incurred.

    — That the U.S.D.A. take whatever steps necessary to insure the safety of animal feeds, whether domestic or imported.

    — That any new animal ID system be “one system”, national in scope, and that it protect the interest of the independent livestock producers.

    — That Country of Origin Labeling, as passed by congress in 2002, will accomplish many of the goals of a national animal ID system and should be fully funded immediately.

    — That National Farmers Organization opposes the importation of livestock and meat from any country which does not prohibit animal protein in animal feedstuffs and does not have and enforce an animal and feed inspection and testing system certified as equivalent to that in the United States.
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Concentration Issues, Anti-Trust and Packers and Stockyards Act Enforcement

The most critical component to survival of independent producers is the price received for commodities produced. Prices determined in markets that are open, fair and competitive are essential. A fair price for commodities at the farm gate, due to increased levels of market concentration in most commodity markets has not been forthcoming and must be addressed. This must be a high priority for all producers.

Accordingly the organization supports:

A) Legislation that promotes markets that are open, fair and competitive for owners and operators in family farming.

B) Urging of its state organizations to work with their respective state's Attorney General's office to develop a consortium of states to study antitrust issues and to ensure adequate funding is available for this purpose.

C) State legislative efforts or citizen initiative efforts to identify and control conglomerate and non-farm corporate intrusion in agriculture.

D) More resolute action in the three major branches of government to accomplish effective enforcement of our present antitrust laws.

E) An investigation, divestiture and separation of corporations who now control - to the extent of monopolizing - several segments of the food industry vital to both family farmers and consumers. National Farmers Organization opposes increased concentration of market share and domination of consumer and farm prices by multi-national corporations.

F) Any legislative effort that would restrict anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.

G) More attentive surveillance of the packing industry by the Justice Department and others with responsibility for administration of the antitrust laws. Antitrust laws should be strictly enforced.

H) Continuation of the independent and relatively unbiased administration of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

I) Retaining and strengthening the present authority contained in the P & S Act to investigate market irregularities and bring perpetrators thereof to justice, reflecting present day prices for livestock and present day marketing conditions.

J) Greater public disclosure of key market information, such as prices paid by packers for fed cattle and slaughter hogs acquired under formula or contract; USDA’s close examination of mergers and consolidations in the livestock industry to find if competition will be reduced in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act or other laws; and, producers should have legal protection from retaliation by packers, so they can feel free to discuss actions of packers believed to be discriminatory or anti-competitive. National Farmers Organization supports inclusion of all livestock in the state attorney general’s reports.

K) Enforcement of legislation restricting large integrated corporate livestock operations which adversely affect rural communities and create environmental problems, and requiring all large confinement entities to be bonded and financially responsible for any environmental damage and subsequent clean-up.

L) Stronger investigation by the appropriate U.S. government agency(ies) of possible violations of Sherman Anti-Trust Laws regarding agri-business corporate mergers.

M) Supports more attentive surveillance of the dairy industry by the Justice Department and others with responsibility for administration of the anti-trust laws.

N) Enforcement of provisions and regulatory authority of USDA under the Packers and Stockyards Act should be extended for segments of the livestock industry such as poultry, to be brought up to standards currently in the Act for beef, swine and sheep.

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Check-offs

Promotion check-offs advocated by single commodity organizations tend to pit producers of the separate commodities against each other in competition for the retail market. As a consequence, public relation firms and the media probably attain greater profits from the various check-off arrangements than the producers who are paying the bills. Our membership encourages all producers to make themselves aware of these activities and to study the effectiveness of the promotion programs.

It is urged that:
A) Check-offs be authorized only by a referendum of producers affected before implementation of the check-off and that enabling legislation on all check-off programs be changed to mandate a producer referendum to be held every five years or less on the continuation of the program. A producer vote should be taken within one year or sooner following the passage of the enabling legislation.

B) Block voting be eliminated on all matters relating to activities covered under the Capper-Volstead Act, governmental referendums, and agricultural promotion plans to give producers an opportunity to vote individually.

C) Commodity check-off should be assessed only once, at the time product is sold for processing. Commodity check-off programs should provide for a simple refund arrangement when applicable.

D) Check-offs must apply equitably to the imported commodities.

E) A substantial portion of compulsory check-off funds be used to purchase surplus commodities in the market and that such supplies be moved in the most economical manner directly to malnourished people.

F) National Farmers Organization is opposed to increasing the beef check off as proposed by NCBA.

The National Farmers Organization supports voluntary check-offs, not mandatory check-offs. We call on the Secretary of Agriculture to use his or her authority to set a date without delay, for producers to vote on the mandatory beef check-off.

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International Trade

A) We support any reasonable effort to expand exports of farm commodities; we are not in agreement, however, with the efforts of any U.S. administration and its commercial allies to depress prices for our major commodities and our land value as a means of forcing other nations to join in termination of all subsidies and domestic farm programs.

B) We support domestic legislation and/or an international agreement that provides for the U.S. to deny entry of any commodity which is produced in a manner that causes deforestation, severe erosion or other severe environmental damage. To hold U.S. producers to environmental, health safety and other standards to which foreign competition are not bound, places U.S. producers at an economic disadvantage.

C) National Farmers Organization supports efforts by organizations, including Ranchers-Cattlemen Legal Action Foundation (R-CALF), to have U.S. trade regulations enforced to the intent of the U.S. Congress and to make sure that trade relief laws are implemented promptly when U.S. agriculture is threatened. The International Trade Commission, USDA, other appropriate agencies and Congress should take immediate action to protect U.S. agricultural producers from undue harm from dumping actions by other nations.

D) National Farmers Organization urges discussions with the producer level groups in the other agriculture exporting nations to develop profitable commodity prices through negotiated efforts with the manufacturing and processing companies at the international level.

E) We are opposed to legislation that would give the President of the United States “fast-track” authority for negotiating agreements as presently proposed because it would prevent Congress from having direct involvement in the negotiations. Such agreements must adequately address labor and environmental issues, country-of-origin labeling, dispute resolution, currency fluctuations, proper reporting of agriculture import and export data, and food safety standards.

F) The policy initiated in the 1985 Farm and Food Security Act, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations could contribute to widespread bankruptcies and loss of many family farms and ranches.

G) The National Farmers Organization supports cooperative efforts to establish an international conservation diversion program when the grain stocks-to-use ratio becomes excessive. Trade negotiations should advance international cooperation, not division, to enhance independent farmer and rancher stability.

H) Our members are committed to the concept that such food aid as we may afford should be distributed in other countries on the basis of human need and not primarily as a political tool.

I) We oppose any hindrance, embargo or other artificial restraint on farm product exports unless such action is directly related to a true national emergency. All imported food products, however utilized, should be labeled as “imported”; the originating country and contents should be identified on the label and be subject to the same stringent quality production standards established for the American producer.

J) National Farmers Organization opposes the importation of any farm commodities when those prices are below U.S. cost of production plus a reasonable profit.

K) Recommend eliminating the trade embargo with Cuba.

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Credit

It has long been recognized that credit is a critical element in modern farming. Availability of funds with reasonable interest rates and favorable terms of repayment are of vital importance. Too often, short term market pressures and government policies have been unfavorable to family farmers and ranchers. Such factors as weather and instability in prices paid for farm commodities illustrate the need for credit designed specifically for family farmers and ranchers.

In response to those needs, we have consistently supported competitive availability of both long term and operational funds for production agriculture. These features are necessary:

A) The Farm Credit System must be sustained and managed efficiently, keeping in mind the interest of family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices.

B) National Farmers Organization is concerned that rapid consolidation of the Farm Credit System Associations and Banks will lead to the loss of local farmer control. The recent "national charters" proposal by the Farm Credit Administration will lead to reduced service to farm borrowers. If each association is permitted to operate on a nationwide basis, local member/borrowers will eventually be short changed.

C) FSA programs should furnish funds for the smaller borrowers and beginning family farmers as contemplated in the original authorization for the program. Direct loans are vitally important in communities where other lenders will not service these credit needs.

D) The new Farm Mortgage Acceptance Corporation (Farmer Mac) had our support in the Congress and now promises to become an active program. This activity should now be monitored by the Congress to assure its administration in keeping with congressional intent.

E) We anticipate lower net farm income as a result of policies in the federal government; it will be in the best public interest to strengthen competition among lenders and offer adequate financing to producers who are credit worthy if our traditional family farming patterns are to continue.

F) There is also much evidence to indicate that the indexing of farm credit to farm income would have prevented much of the past and present economic difficulty of the family farm and the nation in its entirety.

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Rural America and Communities

A) The National Farmers Organization has always given strong support to family farms and rural communities.

B) Rural communities are entitled to communication technology access such as the Internet and other new and emerging technologies at reasonable cost to enhance quality of life, just as other segments of our society and economy enjoy.

C) It is known that the “crisis” of the family farm continues and is becoming more intense, resulting in severe economic pressure upon and loss of a great number of family farm operations, thereby resulting in severe economic hardship for rural communities.

D) There is strong evidence that the past and continuing farm recession is one of the foremost underlying factors in present national economic difficulties.

E) It is known that economic difficulties can be more effectively prevented before recessionary conditions are created.

F) The National Farmers Organization recognizes the vital interdependence of farms, rural people and businesses, and an economically sound agricultural contribution to rural America.

G) The National Farmers Organization encourages farmers, rural people and businesses to support the Institute for Rural America, created to bring attention to the mutual importance and interdependence of farmers, rural people, businesses, schools, churches and communities.

H) A strong rural education system is essential for all rural people. The National Farmers Organization recognizes and encourages local support for adequate, fair and equitable funding for our schools to enhance opportunities for all rural citizens.

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Conservation, Environment and Technology

Environmental considerations are of even more importance to families in the rural community than the high population centers. The scarcity of adequate health facilities, the required availability of pure water and the urgency of avoiding contamination of our soil resources make cooperation with environmental authorities a high priority. Farmers are oriented to protection and improvement of the environment rather than to its destruction. We urge preservation of our national forest resources and protection of the soil, native sod, air and water that support life on this planet.

National Farmers Organization members are encouraged to install and maintain sound soil and water conservation practices on their farms and ranches. They care deeply about balancing wise use with responsible care and maintenance of our resources in the designated wilderness, park and forest land areas.

Programs such as USDA’s EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) and other agency programs should be targeted specifically to benefit independent farm operators and should be adequately funded.

The National Farmers Organization also advocates caution, however, in the following areas, and:

A) Opposes addition of large tracts to the national wilderness without due consideration of the interest of adjoining landowners who are dependent upon grazing rights.

B) Proposes that federal or state established wetlands that contain public drainage should be managed in such a way as to maintain the public drainage and protect the rights of land owner to public drainage.

C) Opposes new laws that usurp the power of elected lower levels of government when dealing with resource development and management.

D) Supports national and state efforts to minimize the use of the right of eminent domain to matters of national security or health emergencies.

E) Recognizes the increasing need for sound stewardship over supplies of agricultural water and urges that responsible authorities handle allocations in a manner that contributes to the survival of viable commercial family farming units.

F) Supports the elected Farm Service Agency county committee system of administration and believes this is a proper local point at which all price support and conservation activities should be coordinated.

G) Believes one half of research funding at the land grant universities should be allocated to development and promotion of alternative agricultural production methods.

H) Believes that all contractors, business developers and government entities share the same responsibilities toward protecting the environment that farmers do.

I) Supports those producers currently enrolled in the CRP (10-year) program. As these contracts mature, producers should be given the option to renew those contracts for a similar 10-year period. The payment should reflect the increase in taxes on the acreage from the time of initial sign-up, or allow the producer to re-bid.

The genetic manipulation of crops and animals is a controversial issue worldwide. The National Farmers Organization opposes use of tax dollars for development of technologies, such as the so called “terminator gene” and other technologies that are subsequently sold, trademarked and patented by the private sector and have the potential to reduce independent producer management and control of production and marketing decisions on their farms.

National Farmers Organization supports outreach and education on the issue of a farmer based carbon pooling trading program that will work toward ensuring equitable carbon payments for all farmers. The Conservation Security Program payments should equitably compensate participants at an equitable rate for on-going and newly-implemented practices contributing to carbon sequestration.

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Land Ownership

Members of the National Farmers Organization are deeply concerned that the tax code (an example would be a 1031 tax exchange) and the concentration of capital are unfairly favorable to investors who are in a position to buy our farmland including, but not limited to, foreign investors, insurance companies, money lenders and some buyers of farm commodities.

National Farmers Organization supports:

A) Equity in farmland taxation such as use-value assessment so that our nation's independent producers do not bear a disproportionate share of the tax burden to support rural infrastructure.

B) Policies directed towards the ownership of the land by family farms and appropriate policies toward preservation of agricultural land for agricultural purposes, including efforts to control urban sprawl.

C) State legislation prohibiting the investment of pension funds in farmland or livestock production similar to the Iowa statute.

D) Legislation designed to obtain comprehensive data on absentee, corporate and foreign ownership.

E) The Amendment of Federal and State Tax Codes to allow unincorporated family farmers an adjustment of gross income to deduct the full cost of pension, medical, dental, disability and up to $100,000 life insurance plans.

F) Programs that seek to encourage young people to consider farming provided that the key component of such programs is to stress the importance of marketing and pricing alternatives that will enable them to extract the dollars they need to cash-flow their operations and maintain their independent producer status.

G) And urges the States’ Legislatures to grant counties local control in sitting of animal confinement units and strongly emphasizes the right of all persons to participate in the development of land use policies.

National Farmers Organization urges the new Administration and Congress to come to an agreement on estate tax reform. We suggest the following:

A) Index exemption levels that reflect increases in asset values due to inflation.

B) Simplify the rules and requirements that must be met to be eligible for the full level of estate tax exemption.

C) Increase the annual limit on individual gifts to $25,000.

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Food Quality and Consumer Issues

American farmers and ranchers produce high quality food in great abundance. We continue to support efforts to maintain that quality through effective grading and inspection procedures. As farmers are one of the largest consuming segments of this country’s economy, we continue to support truth in labeling, advertising and packaging, legislation authorizing class action suits and warranties that provide reasonable protection to the purchasing public.

The National Farmers Organization supports accurate labeling of all meat products with added water.

The National Farmers Organization has deep concern that use of synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone/Bovine Somatotropin (rBGH/BsT) or similar agents may induce an unneeded surge in production and reduce consumer confidence in milk quality. We will continue to oppose its use.

The National Farmers Organization opposes the use of any producer advertising assessments for promotion of synthetic rBGH/BsT usage or, encouragement of consumer acceptance of such products.

Be it resolved that the National Farmers Organization opposes the practice of putting industrial toxic waste in commercial fertilizers or in any other products which are intended to be applied to farm land, lawns, and/or gardens.

The National Farmers Organization goes on record requesting the Congress to retain the school lunch program at a high nutritional level and to make available additional dairy products for our armed forces.

The National Farmers Organization supports federal legislation requiring all imported food be inspected and required to meet FDA and USDA consumer food standards.

The National Farmers Organization recognizes the usage of pesticides, herbicides and food additives but these products should not be utilized until proven safe and accurately labeled.

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Transportation

Farm producers’ interests are best served by truly competitive, balanced transportation networks, including efficient use of railroad, truck and barge systems.

The rail car shortage is causing a severe economic impact to grain producers and rural elevators by not fulfilling domestic and export contracts on a timely basis. The National Farmers Organization presents this as evidence of the negligence of our elected leadership in Washington D.C. to enforce the anti-trust laws to prohibit damaging powerful mergers that have the potential impact of causing devastation to our private sector, and ask the Secretary of Agriculture and other appropriate authorities to thoroughly investigate and rectify circumstances that caused the failure of our rail transportation system.

The National Farmers Organization supports adequate investigation by the appropriate U.S. government agency(ies) of barge and rail transportation systems to maintain a sound transportation infrastructure for rail and barge shipment of farm commodities.

The National Farmers Organization:

A) Seeks to protect the position of the independent trucking operators and resist needless regulatory activities that result in increased transportation costs for farm products;

B) Calls for uniform maximum gross vehicle weights in all states. In addition to an 80,000 pound GVW maximum, a standard maximum length should be adopted for all states. The National Farmers Organization further recommends and supports that those states having less than the recommended limits adopt temporary uniform standards and supports legislative amendments to the Staggers Act requiring public disclosure of rates and terms of negotiated rail shipper contracts.

The National Farmers Organization strongly objects to any attempt by Congress to grant eminent domain power to private firms for any purpose that would divert critical water from our farms, ranches and waterway navigation because:

A) Water supplies are essential for irrigation and livestock production.

B) National policy should balance the needs of all users of navigable rivers.

C) Power interests seek federal eminent domain powers to move coal through pipelines from mines in the West to utilities in the South and Southeast.

D) Proposed legislation would bar state legislatures and courts from protecting the water rights of farmers and ranchers and other traditional users.

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Rural Utilities

A) The National Farmers Organization supports annual Rural Utility Service (RUS, formerly REA) electric and telephone loan levels for both the new insured and guaranteed loan programs that adequately meet the capital needs of rural electric and telephone systems in order to insure dependable electric and telephone service in rural areas at reasonable cost. We support federal financing for research, development and expansion of broad band communication technology over electric transmission lines as well as any other realistic technology for broad band services to rural areas.

B) It also reaffirms its support for supplemental financing through the rural electrics’ self-help lending institutions, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation and the Rural Telephone Bank.

C) The National Farmers Organization reaffirms its support of the authority of the RUS to finance loan requirements through the Federal Financing Bank.

D) The National Farmers Organization believes that the guiding principles in any discussion of utility deregulation must ensure that all classes of customers especially farmers and rural businesses benefit equally and that the reliability of rural electric power and rural telephone systems must not be compromised. The National Farmers Organization supports limiting the role of the Federal Government and keeping control of the electrical power generation and the process of deregulation in the hands of the states.

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Energy

A) It is of vital importance to our country that we develop a long-range energy policy. Such a policy must reconcile the conflicting interests between environmental concerns and the need for a secure source of energy, with reserves adequate to meet any emergency.

B) There must be a proper balance of energy sources. A mix of alternative fuels should include grain alcohol, biomass, solar, windmills and the tides to relieve our high dependency on imported petroleum products. We strongly support import fees on imported oil, the income to be earmarked for development of alternative sources of energy.

C) We urge the increased use of shelled corn for heating purposes.

D) The National Farmers Organization opposes the sitting of new nuclear plants until the safety standards of existing plants are strengthened and responsibly administered. A safe method of waste disposal must be in place.

E) We support the creation and maintenance of hydro-electric plants where feasible and practical.

F) Strongly supports the concept of energy independence for the United States along with the plan to produce as much energy as possible from renewable products raised on farms and ranches. However, this plan must not be based on a program in which the grain or other farm produced commodities are made available at a price which does not cover the cost of production.

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Social Issues

The National Farmers Organization recognizes the value and the necessity of God’s guidance and blessings. Our spiritual resources are as vital to the success of National Farmers Organization as they are to our production. Furthermore, the organization:

A) Strongly opposes any effort which seeks to ban religious broadcasts.

B) Hereby renounces the present permissive abortion policy. We have spent a lifetime in the protection of all life and denounce any legalization for the taking of human life.

C) Opposes any legislation taking away the right of individuals to use force in defending themselves, their families and their property from intruders.

D) Recognizes the equality of men and women in the National Farmers Organization and appreciates the support of all loyal members.

E) Encourages and supports the right of people to form employee bargaining associations as a means for equitable worker social justice and democratic workplace participation.

F) Supports, encourages, and offers fair and equitable bargaining opportunities for farmers of all races and gender including, but not limited to Latino, African-American, Asian, South East Asian and Native American farmers.

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Public Relations and Political Activity

The National Farmers Organization encourages objective analysis and teaching of the values of Collective Bargaining and pricing in our educational institutions. The land grant colleges should teach the use of valid contracts for future delivery. National Farmers Organization leaders will cooperate with educators and representatives of the news media in every practical way to expand the public understanding of the purposes and goals of the National Farmers Organization.

An appropriate amount of time and resources will continue to be committed to a friendly and productive working relationship with leaders of church organizations, labor unions, rural businesses and other groups who share our concern for the economic welfare of the farm family.

A hand of cooperation is extended to the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Grange, the American Agriculture Movement, the American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPPA), Women Involved in Farm Economics (W.I.F.E.), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), Rural Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and other farm producer organizations when their goals and proposals are compatible with ours. We believe the time has come when all farm producer organizations should make every reasonable effort to work together in the best interest of family-operated farms.

As we unite with other farm groups for the purpose of increased bargaining power, National Farmers Organization will act to preserve the protection of our farmers from membership liability for actions of our organization and of those organizations with whom we are acting in unison.

The National Farmers Organization supports the Green Ribbon Campaign which is symbolic of the efforts of people from all walks of life to ask legislators at the local, state and federal levels to work for more effective legislation to protect our environment, to support a family farm system of agriculture and to support healthy rural communities.

National Farmers Organization leaders at the state and LMU levels are urged to establish specific programs for the members to exchange views periodically with members of Congress on issues of vital importance to the membership of this organization as required in the ByLaws- “to work for the election of candidates regardless of party affiliation” (Art. II Section 3) and the state organization may assist Local Membership Units...the viewpoints of candidates running for political offices may be distributed to the membership in order that they may make an intelligent decision”. (Art V, Section 3A (2)).

In the interest of maintaining fair and honest elections and a reasonable balance of influences brought to bear on the U.S. Congress, we support the policy that all political election expenditures for each candidate should be limited to not more than the total salary for their term of office and all funds should be generated within the political entity which they represent.

The National Farmers Organization will work rigorously at the state, district, and county levels to support any candidate who promotes pro-agricultural policies or legislation and will actively communicate with all elected officials.

Rural economic development funding should include aiding the development of marketing channels through which producers can achieve cost of production plus a reasonable profit, and providing for the needs of the small privately owned business establishments.

As the number of farmers and ranchers declines and the leadership in government shifts national attention away from domestic problems to such sectors as national defense, space exploration and international affairs, our influence is reduced accordingly. Various single commodity organizations now find themselves fighting each other for a share of the federal farm program dollar. These problems are expected to multiply rather than diminish in the future.

Consequently, the National Farmers Organization urges that the leaders of all major producer groups be encouraged to recognize that:

A) Fair prices and improved net farm income must be a primary goal of all agricultural producer organizations.

B) Unity of purpose and cooperation will be required to accomplish worthwhile objectives.

C) Understanding, mutual trust and respect for one another’s goals can develop a stronger working relationship with environmental and consumer representatives.

National Farmers Organization encourages its members to contact our representatives and ask them to support legislative action to have the Federal Reserve Bank audited.

National Farmers Organization encourages contacting our representatives to ask them to support legislative action for a single payer plan for health insurance for the American people similar to Medicare.

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Miscellaneous

The National Farmers Organization seeks redirection in tax provisions and the credit agencies to assist young farmers to prosper in family farming and ranching.

The National Farmers Organization is opposed to:
A) Deregulation of natural gas prices.
B) Confiscation of farmer-owned commodities in storage in an elevator or warehouse when that facility is taken over in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The National Farmers Organization supports:
A) The principle of various Sunshine Laws and urges a periodic review of the semi-autonomous regulatory agencies and their rulings.
B) All reasonable efforts to price raw material above the cost of production.
C) The use of the “median” rather than the “mean” when computing the average income of farmers and ranchers.
D) Return of control of the monetary systems to the Congress.
E) Efforts in establishing Industrial Hemp as an alternative cash crop.

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Appreciation

The Resolutions Committee compliments the staff on keeping members up-to-date on current issues of agricultural importance.

National Farmers Organization members greatly appreciate the hospitality and kindness that the officials and citizens of Wisconsin Dells, WI, manifested on many occasions during our national convention. We appreciate the efforts made by news media who gave accurate and full accounts of our activities, deliberations and discussions.

The members of the National Farmers Organization in session in Wisconsin Dells, WI, do hereby commend, express our appreciation and say thank you to the officers of our Organization, to the National Board, to our representatives in Washington, D.C., and to all personnel of our Organization who have worked so diligently to make National Farmers Organization what it is today and for making this convention such an outstanding event. Under their leadership we, the members, will continue to strive to keep this the best farm organization in existence today.


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