MFU HOLDS VIRTUAL CONVENTION
by Kim mangold, Government affairs director
MFU HOLDS VIRTUAL CONVENTION- After a lot of careful consideration and planning the MFU Policy Committee, under Jeff Bang’s leadership, presented a new and improved 2020 Policy Book to the General Membership at the annual convention.
I want to make sure to recognize all the members who worked on the policy committee including: Jeff Bangs, Laura Peterson, Jan Tusick, Eric Somerfeld, Eric Bergman, Chad Doheny, Ben Peterson, John Wicks, Alice Miller and Sarah Rachor.
While there were some necessary adjustments made to the policy book, the most significant changes were addressed in the 2010 Special Orders of Business. Last year’s Hemp Title was incorporated into the main body of the policy book and the CSKT Agreement was termed out and supported within their respective policy sections.
While there were some necessary adjustments made to the policy book, the most significant changes were addressed in the 2010 Special Orders of Business. Last year’s Hemp Title was incorporated into the main body of the policy book and the CSKT Agreement was termed out and supported within their respective policy sections. The Trade Policy position remains as last year but three new sections were added. These sections include support for a Right to Repair legislation, new Meat Processors Curriculum and the Food Security for US campaign.
Special Orders of Business:
Access to global markets is critical for family farms in Montana. Montana agricultural exports account for about 75-80% of Montana farm incomes. Montana farmers and ranchers rely heavily on strong export markets and are struggling with the retaliatory tariffs placed on commodities that Montana farmers and ranchers produce. We support efforts to balance the trade deficit and unfair trade practices as well as expand trade with other countries.
We urge that the retaliatory tariffs be resolved to stop the monumental losses to Montana farmers and ranchers including the loss of global market share and the decrease in farm income. Efforts to offset the retaliatory tariffs with MFP payments have in no way been sufficient to compensate for market losses that family farms have experienced. MFU urges the restoration of open trade with countries around the world through enforceable trade agreements and the elimination of current adverse trade practices that affect Montana agriculture.
Right to Repair:
Montana Farmers Union demands the right to repair our own equipment. Equipment manufacturers refuse access or charge exorbitant prices for technical advisor software needed to troubleshoot equipment. Almost all newer equipment utilizes electronic control units to control equipment operation. Without the software and hardware needed to troubleshoot farmers and ranchers are forced to use the dealer for minor and major repairs. The cost of repairs and downtime has a severe impact on our bottom line and adds undue stress to our lives.
Meat Processors Curriculum:
The COVID pandemic has put a microscope on our food supply chain and it is broken. Grocery stores are rationing meat while livestock producers are euthanizing livestock because of shutdown of meat packers. Local butchers are struggling to find skilled labor to keep up with demand. MFU supports developing curriculum and apprenticeship programs to train people in all facets of meat processing.
Food Security for US:
- Montana Farmers Union believes that food security is of major concern to American consumers in a changing world. We also believe that adopting policies that address food security will be of great benefit to our producers and offer protections to consumers. For too long, producers and consumers have been subject to “cheap food policy” which gives corporate monopolies control of our food dollar, furthering food inequality and pushing producers to the brink. We resolve that:
- Regulatory change is required, to allow state-inspected meat to be sold across state lines. There must be a commitment to funding more inspectors to aid in the development of more local processing.
- GIPSA must be fully reinstated and enforced. Large corporate monopolies have been allowed to manipulate markets for far too long, endangering the sustainability of family agriculture and putting consumers at risk of food shortages
- The commodity loan program must be changed, with a loan rate that reflects 85% of the parity price for a given commodity. This will both provide producers with a higher, more stable price and refill our strategic commodity reserves, furthering our food security.
- Communities and local governments must aid policymakers in the creation of local supply chains.
We will continue to address Country-of-Origin Labeling with the Montana Cattlemen Association and other issues surrounding the concerns with meat processing. Through our coordinated efforts with partners such as Grow Montana, Montana Cattlemen Association, Northern Plains Resource Council, AERO, and others, we will continue to educate and promote programs and legislation that benefit the Montana producer. While The Montana Stockgrowers and Montana Farm Bureau members have put COOL in their policy, leadership has never supported or written a COOL bill. Hopefully 2021 will be different.