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Open House & Fundraiser to Benefit the Iowa Farmers Union Education Foundation
Friday, November 16, 2012
5:30PM – 7:30PM
IFU State Office, 614 Billy Sunday Road, Ames
The event will feature:
- legislative updates from our lobbyist in Des Moines,
- a review of the Fall Legislative Fly-In, and
- a chance to talk to the candidates for IFU President and Vice President.
Please join us for a great evening of discussion with friends, local food and drinks before the State Convention!
Suggested donation of $30 will support IFU Education Foundation’s 2013 adult & youth educational programs
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-775-5227.
Saturday, November 17
8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Sun Room, Memorial Union
Iowa State University, Ames
The ISU Sustainable Agriculture Student Association has graciously agreed to host us on the ISU campus again this year, and we hope to have a lot of students in attendance!
We have a busy schedule planned. We have two amazing and talented women – IFU board member Sally Gran and emeritus board member Donna Winburn – who will lead off the convention with a keynote address on the history of IFU and the transition to a new generation of family farming and family farm advocacy. We also are putting together a great workshop on what farmers and rural communities can expect from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on access to affordable health insurance. At noon, we will have our annual awards luncheon featuring local foods. And of course, we will be having a lively debate of the farm, food, energy and rural policy priorities that will guide all of our advocacy work in 2013.
A registration form for the convention is available at this link.
(Des Moines, Iowa) March 29, 2012: State Executive Director of USDA’s Iowa Farm Service Agency, John R. Whitaker, reminds farmers that the deadline for enrolling land into the Farm Service Agency’s general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign up is April 6, 2012.
Interested producers are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to begin the sign up process. Producers are also reminded that offers need to be completed in their entirety by the end of sign up, April 6th in order to be considered eligible. “Interested persons need to talk to our local FSA offices now,” says John R Whitaker, State Executive Director for Iowa’s Farm Service Agency. “Time management is critical with CRP enrollment due to the number of decisions to make.”
Following sign-up, all offers for CRP will be evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) for the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air, and enduring benefits) and a cost factor. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.
CRP is the largest voluntary private-land conservation program. It helps farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes. In return for offering the land, the Farm Service Agency provides participants annual rental payments, and cost share on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation.
For more information on CRP, please contact your county FSA office or the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
Leading Natural Product Brands, Retailers, Celebrities and Grassroots Activists Team Up to Produce Third Annual ‘Hemp History Week’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp have announced plans for the 3rd Annual Hemp History Week to be held on June 4-10, 2012. A national grassroots education campaign designed to renew strong support for hemp farming in the U.S., Hemp History Week 2012 will feature events in cities and towns throughout all fifty states. The multi-faceted campaign will feature grassroots volunteer-led events, retail promotions, a restaurant program, a day of action and an online petition drive to encourage the Obama Administration and Congress to change federal policy and allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp. A new Web site, along with a promotional video for the 2012 campaign, is viewable at www.HempHistoryWeek.com.
The theme of the 2012 campaign is Hemp for a Healthy Future: Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Economy, Healthy Planet. “As more Americans recognize the health and environmental benefits of hemp products, hemp farming promises job creation and economic opportunity for farmers and manufacturers and ensures that
nutritious foods and sustainable goods are more accessible and affordable for consumers,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “In turn, this means healthier lifestyles, a stronger economy and a more sustainable world. Through Hemp History Week 2012, we’re spreading the message that we need to change federal policy on industrial hemp to reflect today’s realities and ensure a better tomorrow for America’s families and farmers, the economy and our planet.”
A primary objective of Hemp History Week is to advocate for a federal policy change while sending a strong, positive message to President Barack Obama and Congress to end the ban on hemp farming and let farmers grow the versatile and profitable crop. In 2010 and 2011, the campaign generated thousands of postcards and online petition signatures to the President and Congress. Representatives Ron Paul (R-Texas), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and many other members of Congress support legislation in favor of a federal policy change. A companion Senate bill is expected to be introduced later this year.
“There are several successful businesses in my state who are manufacturing healthy and sustainable products
made from hemp,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). “Currently these companies are forced to import their raw materials from Canada and other countries. Changing federal policy to allow American farmers the right to grow hemp right here at home will help these companies thrive, while creating new economic opportunities in
Oregon and across the country. The Hemp History Week campaign is a good opportunity to educate other elected officials and the American public about the benefits that the ability to once again grow hemp in America can bring.”
Hemp History Week is endorsed by a long list of celebrities and high profile wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Alicia Silverstone, Phil Lempert, Ashley Koff, R.D., Brendan Brazier, Elizabeth Kucinich, Ziggy Marley, Alexandra Jamieson, Dar Williams, Michael Franti, John Salley and Kevin Danaher.
This year’s campaign will double in size once again compared to last year’s event, which mobilized supporters of hemp farming nationwide, including hundreds of volunteers who organized over 500 events throughout all fifty states, and generated tens of thousands of letters and postcards to the President and Attorney General in support of hemp farming. Volunteers are being called upon once again to organize events in 2012, with specific details about those planned events to be announced in early April on the Hemp History Week Web site.
Hundreds of natural product retail outlets across the country have signed up to participate in Hemp History Week through promotions and in-store events. Hemp product promotions in retail stores will increase from 400 stores in 2011 to as many as 1,000 participating retail stores this year, including most Whole Foods Market locations in the U.S.
NATIONAL RESTAURANT PROGRAM
New to the 2012 campaign, this year’s effort will also feature a national restaurant program. Health conscious cafes and restaurants around the country are being invited to participate in Hemp History Week by featuring hemp-infused dishes on their menus during the week of the campaign. Some restaurants will also be hosting special events. “Candle 79 is looking forward to participating in the 3rd annual Hemp History Week this June.
We use hemp in many of our favorite menu offerings, including our hemp seed crusted seitan and our famous hemp seed ice-cream desserts. Our chefs love working with hemp seeds, and our customers can’t seem to get enough,” says Joy Pierson, owner of Candle 79 & Candle Cafe in New York City.”
SHOWCASING THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HEMP
A renewable resource offering a long list of health and nutritional benefits, hemp is one of the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry. Hemp is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both super omega-stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), highly-digestible
protein and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron, while being a good source of dietary fiber. It is a complete protein, containing all 10 essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Hemp seeds are also gluten-free.
UNPRECEDENTED INDUSTRY-WIDE EFFORT
Going into its third year, Hemp History Week is an industry-wide effort made possible by the support of leading natural product brands that are known for manufacturing the highest-quality hemp products. Hemp can be used in a wide variety of products, including foods, cosmetics, clothing, building materials, auto parts and
many others. The sponsors of Hemp History Week 2012 are Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Living Harvest Foods, Food Should Taste Good, Manitoba Harvest, Nature’s Path Foods, Nutiva and Vega. Sustainable hemp seed, fiber and oil are also used by major companies such as Ford Motors, Patagonia and The Body Shop.
Arran Stephens, founder/CEO of Nature’s Path Foods, North America’s independent, #1 brand of organic breakfast foods, says “We believe our hemp-based cereals, bars and waffles exemplify all of the goodness that
hemp has to offer as a nutritious, gluten-free, non-GMO superfood. Nature’s Path is proud to have been part of the growth of the hemp industry since the beginning. This June, we look forward to celebrating America’s rich history with hemp farming, while educating consumers about the benefits of hemp foods. If hemp production was good enough for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (note that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper), then it’s good enough for us.”
Other U.S. hemp manufacturers have been relentless in their struggle for the right to buy hemp from U.S. farmers. “For nearly ten years, the Bronner family has financially supported efforts to lift the ban on non-drug industrial hemp farming because it is an environmentally-sustainable crop,” states David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the top-selling brand of natural soap in the U.S. “Despite our efforts, we are forced to continue purchasing the twenty tons of hemp oil that we use annually from Canada. This is a lost opportunity
for American farmers and businesses, a situation that is becoming more absurd and outrageous with each growing season that passes.”
The HIA estimates that U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $419 million in 2011, yet American companies making hemp products have no choice but to import their raw materials, due to the federal
government’s outdated and misguided ban on hemp farming. While demand for hemp products continues to rise, it is becoming a challenge for Canadian growers and processors, currently the primary suppliers of hemp seed and oil to the U.S. market, to keep up and meet that demand.
“Nutiva’s sales have grown at an average annual rate of 42% since 2006. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, we were named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing businesses in America,” says John W. Roulac, founder and CEO of Nutiva. “By allowing U.S. farmers to grow and sell hemp seed, it will help the entire industry to meet the growing demand for hemp products.”
Living Harvest Foods is a global leader in hemp food products. “Our mission is to pioneer delicious hemp foods that are good for people and planet,” says Cathy Hearn, President of Living Harvest Foods. “Hemp is a truly remarkable plant that’s packed full of essential nutrients that can improve the way Americans eat. Sourcing hemp from outside the U.S. adds unnecessary costs, which translates into higher retail prices. We want to make this superfood accessible to everyone, and to do that we need Congress to recognize the benefits of a domestic hemp program. There are no valid arguments against it.”
To date, thirty-one states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and seventeen have passed legislation, while eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have already authorized the licensing of farmers to grow the crop. However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in these states risk raids by federal agents if they plant the crop, due to the failure of federal policy to distinguish oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e., industrial hemp) from psychoactive varieties.
“My co-founders of Manitoba Harvest and I are proud to have successfully petitioned our government to legalize hemp in Canada over a decade ago. We are very appreciative of the Canadian government’s support and hope that the U.S. government will soon see the opportunities with industrial hemp as well,” says Mike Fata, co-founder and CEO of Manitoba Harvest. “With consumer demand for hemp products growing, why shouldn’t American farmers also be allowed to benefit from this huge opportunity?”
For more information on Hemp History Week 2012, please see the completely re-designed campaign Web site at: www.HempHistoryWeek.com.
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WASHINGTON (March 27, 2012) – Most businesses would struggle to survive if they lost half of their management team overnight. Yet for thousands of families, an illness or injury to one spouse can leave the other feeling lost and frustrated.
Based on the well-respected “Annie’s Project” education program, a conference for farm and rural women is being organized by National Farmers Union (NFU). The event, set for June 21-23, will provide participants with tools and information to confidently manage risks in their farm or ranch operations.
“Since the days of homesteading, women have been the cornerstones of family farm agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Yet, too many women have not had the opportunity to gain an understanding of or experience in farm risk management.”
A variety of trained instructors will teach family farm finances, budgeting and cash flow, cooperatives, marketing, farm transfer and estate planning, business planning, leadership assessment and skills, generational issues, and action planning.
The conference will be held at the NFU Education Center at Bailey, Colo. The $150 registration will cover camp-style lodging in the Rocky Mountains at the NFU Education Center, catered meals, and conference materials. Those interested in participating are urged to register early as capacity is limited. Full payment must accompany registration and be postmarked by May 18. More information and registration details are available at www.nfu.org/education.
“Annie’s Project” also helps women find new ways to balance the demands of family, community and professionalism within the agricultural community. The conference is sponsored by Farm Credit, CoBank, FUI Foundation and the NFU Foundation.
Des Moines Register Iowa View
Two years ago this month, nearly a thousand people — mostly farmers – crowded an auditorium in Ankeny for the Iowa kickoff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Justice workshop series addressing competition and antitrust issues in agriculture.
The historic collaboration between the Justice Department and USDA promised action and hope for farmers who have struggled for decades to address the growing power of a hyper-consolidated agribusiness industry. The hearings produced a lot of speeches — the transcripts run almost 1,900 pages — but precious little action.
Today, the big agribusiness, meatpacking and seed companies have maintained their stranglehold on farmers. Some firms are considering more mergers as the economy strengthens, which would further consolidate the marketplace.
As Sen. Chuck Grassley noted at the Ankeny workshop, “Bigger isn’t per se bad, but it can lead to predatory business practices and behavior. And that’s what we’ve got to be concerned about.”
The lack of competition is especially acute in livestock markets, where a few companies control the national marketplace. About four out of five cattle and two out of three hogs are slaughtered by four companies in each sector. With few national buyers, farmers rarely get a competitive price for their livestock. On the local level, there are often only one or two beef or hog packers buying farmers’ livestock. And frequently, the available packers won’t even buy from independent producers.
The big meatpackers have the power to drive down the prices farmers receive for hogs and cattle. In many cases, meatpackers control and feed their own livestock. Packers such as Tyson, Cargill, and Smithfield Foods use packer-owned livestock to exert unfair market power over farmers.
The companies can buy cattle and hogs when prices are low and slaughter their own livestock when bidding prices rise. This puts long-term, downward pressure on cattle and hog prices and effectively allows the meatpackers to manipulate prices.
Persistently low livestock prices push farmers out of business. Between 1997 and 2007, Iowa lost more than 9,300 hog farms (about half) and 7,600 cattle operations (one-fourth), according to USDA figures. The loss of these nearly 17,000 farms reverberates throughout the rural economy as fewer farms support fewer feed stores, equipment dealers, and other local small businesses and their jobs and wages.
Although farmers have seen few tangible results from the 2010 workshops, Iowa’s senators continue to champion fair livestock markets. This month, Grassley and Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., introduced legislation to level the playing field between livestock producers and meatpackers that would ban packer ownership of livestock for more than a week before they are slaughtered. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., cosponsored this important livestock reform measure.
Grassley’s packer ban legislation (S. 2141) is widely supported by independent livestock producers. During the agriculture antitrust workshops, many farmers and ranchers demanded our policymakers prohibit packers from owning livestock. A packer ban would promote fairer, more open and competitive livestock markets, strengthening the marketing options and prices for producers. Studies have found that packer ownership of livestock can artificially lower prices farmers receive and still increase consumer food prices.
Grassley and Harkin have long records of promoting competition and fairness in agriculture markets and both sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee. As Congress begins to take up the next Farm Bill, competition issues such as a packer ban and other similar reforms should be part of the legislation.
As Grassley said in Ankeny two years ago, “there’s not enough competition, too much concentration” in agriculture markets and there is a role for the “government not being a partner but for sure being a referee.”
AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Farm Energy Working Group has awarded three demonstration grants for 2012 to Iowa farmers with small to mid-sized operations to demonstrate how they can reduce fossil fuel use and meet their energy needs through energy efficiency or the use of renewable resources from on their farms.
The University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) facilitates the working group, which is funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.
“These grants will help develop demonstration projects so other farmers can see firsthand how the technology works and learn about costs and suppliers,” said Carole Yates, working group facilitator and a CEEE program manager. “Adopting technologies using on-farm resources for small and mid-sized farms offers many ways for farmers to reduce their energy use.”
All recipients will present a demonstration of their projects later in 2012.
Jim Fitkin, Waterloo, plans to make a biogas digester to heat a 30 x 72′ high tunnel to extend his growing season in the spring and fall. He sells his produce (popcorn for this project) at local markets and other outlets. For on-farm resources, he will use waste from crops and animals to make biogas; use the biogas to heat the high tunnel; and put the compost left from the biogas back onto the hoop house soil.
Larry Reiling, Fairfield Farm near Calmar, will design an automated stoker feed wood waste boiler system to heat storage trailers, a shop, and a wash facility for vegetables, potatoes and onions. Reiling will construct a boiler building, wood storage facility, and install the boiler. The wood boiler heating system will use wood from the farm to reduce reliance on natural gas, propane, and other heating means. The project will generate a complete bill of materials of purchase parts and a system manual to allow other Iowa farmers to replicate the idea.
Harn Soper, Soper Farms, Emmetsburg, will provide design/performance values for a CoolBot System to cool a vegetable building walk-in cooler. The project will evaluate the technical and financial feasibility of using a CoolBot system, “ground truth” the company’s claim of reduced electricity use as a cooling system; and provide a design example and recommendations for any farmer interested in implementing a CoolBot system for vegetable cooling.
The Iowa Farm Energy Working Group includes representatives from agriculture, policy, higher education, utility, and farm organizations plus others with an interest or expertise in meeting on-farm energy needs from energy efficiency and renewable resources available on the farm.
For more information, contact Yates at email@example.com.
AMES, Iowa – Creating a vibrant food system in Iowa requires diverse voices and strong partnerships. The Local Food and Farm Program team invites you to contribute to a lively discussion at the Iowa Local Food Summit on Tuesday, April 3. The event will take place at the Scheman Building at Iowa State University from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A local foods dinner will follow at 6 p.m.
The legislature created the Local Food and Farm Program in 2011 to implement recommendations outlined in the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, which was developed by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Craig Chase, coordinator of the Leopold Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, leads the six-member team.
Chase says, “The information for the original report that initiated the Local Food and Farm Program was the result of several meetings made up of over 1,000 of Iowa agriculture’s best and brightest minds. It’s our hope to again bring together a diverse mix of people concerned about and interested in creating a vibrant, sustainable local food system.”
During the first six months of funding the team identified the challenges to implementing the plan’s 29 recommendations. They need the help of producers, distributors, educators, policymakers, consumers and other members of the local food economy to determine the next steps for success.
Afternoon workshops will center on six focus areas: 1) business development and financial assistance, 2) food processing, 3) food safety, 4) beginning, transitioning and minority farmers, 5) assessing programs, and 6) local food incentives.
Chase said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been invited to speak at the beginning of the day about the burgeoning local food economy. “Secretary Northey has been a strong proponent of farmers markets and Farm to School and we look forward to having him attend,” Chase said.
The keynote speaker, David Dahlquist, is a nationally recognized public artist and teacher. Since 1988 he has completed more than 50 large-scale public commissions across the country. He will speak about creating a local sense of place that embraces food, history and culture.
Register online, or download the mail-in registration form, at www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/localfood/home.html. The regular fee is $20 and the student fee is $15 if you register before March 30. There is an additional $25 charge to attend the local foods dinner.
The event sponsors include the Leopold Center, ISU Extension and Outreach, ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 22, 2012) – More than 90 students from twelve states recently learned about cooperatives from experts across the country. The students were participants in the College Conference on Cooperatives, sponsored by the CHS Foundation and hosted by the National Farmers Union (NFU) Foundation. The four-day event included participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana and Colorado.
“This is an opportunity for Farmers Union and the cooperative community of the upper Midwest to teach young people about cooperative business principles and history, to introduce them to a wide variety of co-ops, and to show them that there are great careers in strong, ethical and community-minded businesses,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
To make cooperative education come alive for the participants, students visited CHS headquarters, heard cooperative leaders, farmers, and government experts explain current challenges facing co-ops, and toured housing, retail and marketing cooperatives across the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Presenters included members, directors, employees and managers from traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives, as well as perspectives from electric, housing, and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as credit unions, REI and natural foods co-ops. Representatives from recently established cooperatives and the Peace Corps provided perspectives on cooperative development here and abroad.
Additional supporters included CoBank, Farmers Union Industries Foundation, SPIRE Federal Credit Union, CHS, Inc., National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Education Foundation, Minnesota Cooperative Education Foundation, Federated Youth Foundation, and Organic Valley.
“Farmers Union’s activities involve cooperation, education, and civic activism, so it is valuable to have events like this one to help bring those topics together,” said Johnson. “Our own history is so closely tied with the cooperative movement. Cooperatives were made possible by legislative activity, and brought to life in communities both rural and urban. Farmers Union has a strong commitment to providing cooperative education not only to our own members, but also to the general public, and especially to young people.”
NFU encourages individuals who are contemplating starting a career in farming or ranching to apply for the Beginning Farmer Institute. The program is also open to those across the nation who have just begun farming or are in the process of transferring an operation from a parent, relative, or non-relative.
Beginning farmers and ranchers face a seemingly unlimited number of decisions to make, from drawing up a business plan and arranging financing to learning what programs are available to make it easier to start up and sustain a successful operation.
“This program will answer the questions new farmers have, and more importantly share our expertise to answer questions that people do not always think of asking when they begin farming,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The Beginning Farmer Institute underscores our commitment to growing family agriculture.”
Applicants accepted into the 2012 program will attend three separate education sessions, to be held in April in Washington, D.C., November in Minneapolis, Minn., and at the NFU Convention in March 2013 in Springfield, Mass. Program topics will cover business planning, understanding U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, tax and record keeping, and marketing.
A $25 registration fee is required for accepted candidates. The NFU Foundation will cover the costs of materials, transportation, and lodging. This program is supported by the NFU Foundation, Farm Credit and CHS Foundation.
To apply, visit www.nfu.org/education, fill out the form and return it by the March 14, 2012, deadline.