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Local farmers go to rally and meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

By Staff | Oct 5, 2012

Thirty-four North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) members joined more than 200 fellow farmers, ranchers and fishermen from across the country in Washington, D.C. Sept. 10-12 for the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual fall legislative fly-in event.

Maxine Ronglien, Towner, Jim Teigen, Rugby, and Terry Borstad, Devils Lake, were among the participants.

During the fly-in, participants visited the office of every member of Congress in just two and a half days. Members heard from White House officials, elected officials from the House and Senate along with USDA leadership.

Farmers Union participants discussed their personal stories with various representatives and urged members of Congress to pass a farm bill before the current bill expires on Sept. 30 during a special “Farm Bill NOW” rally.

According to NDFU President Elwood “Woody” Barth, this year’s activities were especially important. “We need a farm bill now. It’s frustrating when leadership does not bring the bill up for a vote. Congress needs to listen to our family farmers and ranchers.”

Barth went on to say, “Meeting face-to-face with policymakers is very important to ensure the voices of Farmers Union members are heard. As the discussions about the 2012 farm bill move forward, Farmers Union members and staff will have to continue to drive home the message that we need a strong safety net in order to allow farmers and ranchers to continue in their business of providing an abundant and safe source of food and fuel for the country and world.”

Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, and Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Michael Scuse, were among the many leaders who addressed the NFU delegation during a briefing session. Both Vilsack and Scuse voiced their support to pass a farm bill before the expiration date.

“With the current farm bill expiring, it is critical Congress hear from constituents about its importance,” NFU President Roger Johnson explained. “The Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture have already passed their own versions of the farm bill and the full House must act soon.”

On Sept. 12, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, filed a discharge petition to get the 2012 farm bill voted on by the full House. If a majority of the House of Representatives signs the petition, the bill will be automatically taken to the floor to be voted on. “The filing of the discharge petition is necessary because House leadership has refused to bring the bill to the floor. We are encouraging all of our members to contact their representatives to stress the importance of signing the petition and force Congress to act,” said Johnson.

Johnson served as one of the emcees of the Sept. 12 “Farm Bill Now!” rally that featured speakers from the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and leaders from supporting organizations who each echoed the need to pass a farm bill as soon as possible.

More than 200 Farmers Union members joined hundreds of other rally supporters to hear the speakers. The rally was endorsed by 89 organizations representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy specialty crops, consumers, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and bio-based product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups.

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