A note from the President:
March was a busy month for Montana Farmers Union. Starting with the National Farmers Union convention, which was held in San Diego California. MFU was well represented with five delegates, one youth delegate and myself. With that being said the national membership for a charter was 2,500 members. The delegates decided this year to cut the charter requirement to 1,250 which will mean Montana now, along with the other states, will double their delegate size to the National Convention starting in 2019. The next year’s convention will be held in Kansas City Missouri.
Another concern at the NFU convention was the next Farm Bill and the urgency by which to start the process. As a major farm organization we are concerned about the different titles within the bill and potential cuts by the Trump administration. One must remember that agriculture returns much more to the overall economy than any government program. As with the last Farm Bill, MFU will again be hosting hearings across the state. We hope you will attend so we can hear what our members are wanting in the next bill!
MFU is actively lobbying in Helena for issues important to our membership. We have acted on countless bills. Once again I want to remind our members that the organization’s stance on an issue or policy is driven by language voted on by membership that is printed in our policy book. The policy of MFU is gone over at our annual convention held in October of each year. Supporting what our members believe drives our testimony. If you want to change policy you must be at the convention during our policy debate consideration and adoption. The MFU policy at this time is very much up-to-date on the current issues. If a bill arises with policy intent that might not be clearly defined by membership to address a piece of legislation, the board of directors have the authority to decide on whether the organization will support the bill or not. Please feel free to call the office to get a clearer understanding of this process if necessary.One bill MFU has sponsored this session is the agritourism bill, which failed in previous sessions. Perseverance has paid off, and with support of the house and the senate it will be signed into law by the governor.
I would like to make one final comment about the up coming Farm Bill and some of the conversations that I noticed on social media. Why do people think that by complaining to one another about what they hear about potential cuts or even the total abandonment of certain programs for the elderly and low-income families that it will help in any way? Rather than just expressing your concerns through social media we encourage you to channel that energy and write, email, or talk to you senators and representatives. Reach out at a town meeting or pick up the phone and be persistent with your beliefs. By being a member of a farm advocacy organization like Montana Farmers Union you are already taking an important step in supporting agriculture. I encourage you to utilize MFU’s expertise and lobbying power. We have relationships with legislators at the state and national level and will back programs in need of support. You will have a better chance of being heard if congress knows you are a member of a reputable farm organization such as Montana Farmers Union.
Farm policy is complicated, let us be your resource as we work to ensure Montana’s farmers and ranchers get what they need from the next Farm Bill. We have been providing a voice for family farms for over 100 years and work tirelessly to live up to that promise each and every day!