WASHINGTON — As a global pandemic and extreme weather events batter an already weak agricultural economy, more than 400 farmers, ranchers, and rural residents are gathering online this week to speak directly with their elected representatives and administration officials as part of National Farmers Union’s (NFU) fall legislative fly-in.
“Between low commodity prices, corporate control of the food industry, chronic overproduction, global trade disputes, underfunded infrastructure, and inadequate access to broadband internet, family farmers and rural communities have had a tough go of it for the last several years. Now, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change-related disasters have made many of those problems worse while also creating new ones,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “But Farmers Union members won’t just be highlighting the challenges they’re confronting; they’re also proposing sensible legislative solutions to build a better, more equitable, and more resilient food system for everyone.”
Advocates from across the country will campaign for policies that support pandemic recovery, reduce chronic overproduction, restore competition to agricultural markets, strengthen rural healthcare, improve access to broadband internet, ensure the success of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), help farmers and ranchers implement climate-smart practices, and expand the market for homegrown biofuels. The NFU Fly-In Talking Points can be found here.
Fly-in participants will be building on National Farmers Union’s long history of grassroots advocacy; since 1909, the organization’s members have traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with their lawmakers about the issues that matter most to them. In a first, this year’s event will be held completely online in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of attendees.
“There’s nothing I look forward to more than seeing Farmers Union members every year at fly-in,” Larew noted. “We will really miss having everyone here in person, but thanks to modern technology, they will still have this crucial opportunity to shape stronger agricultural policy from the ground up.”
The week-long event began Monday with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefing featuring Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand. The fly-in will continue tomorrow with a Congressional briefing with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Collin Peterson, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Jon Tester, and Representative Frank Lucas. Throughout the rest of the week, participants will join small-group meetings with congressional offices, a panel discussion on USPS, and a virtual social gathering.
–National Farmers Union
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