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USDA Announces New Grants to Provide COVID-19 Workforce Assistance

Nebraska Farmers Union - Thu, 09/09/2021 - 15:59

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2021

Contact: David Schuller
dschuller@nfudc.org

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced two new grant programs intended to provide financial assistance for farmers and ranchers as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace.

The grant programs, Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant and Seafood Pandemic Response Safety (SPRS) Block Grant, aim to provide assistance to agricultural operations in certain commodity areas, including small scale specialty crop producers and processors, shellfish, aquaculture and other select producers, meat and other processors, distributors, farmers markets and seafood facilities.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our farming community recognized their role as essential workers and made worker safety a priority,” said Rob Larew, President, National Farmers Union, “They adapted their work environments through staggered schedules, provided PPE and onsite testing, retrofitted their facilities to provide social distancing measures and more.”

“These changes were necessary to protect their workforce, but came at a high expense,” Larew added. “We are thankful the American Rescue Plan provided funding for this purpose and thank the Secretary for implementing this grant program.”

The PRS grant will be funded at $650 million and the SPRS block grant will be funded at $50 million. Applications will be available on September 23rd.

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About NFU
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Stay Connected
Look for us online at NFU.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

National Farmers Union Calls on USDA to Support Competition in Meat and Poultry Processing

Nebraska Farmers Union - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 07:17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2021

Contact: David Schuller
dschuller@nfudc.org

WASHINGTON – Earlier this week, National Farmers Union (NFU) submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to a request for information on “Investments and Opportunities for Meat and Poultry Processing Infrastructure.” In the wake of the July 9, 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, as well as the American Rescue Plan Act, USDA is redoubling its efforts to build a more diversified meat processing sector. The NFU comments note that while the Act includes directives to provide funding for a more diverse marketplace, underlying competition issues will need to be addressed through enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and antitrust laws.

The comments by Rob Larew, NFU President, reiterated the need to strategically direct federal support towards enhancing resiliency and fostering competition in the meat and poultry processing sector.

“This idea has been a top priority for our members for decades,” wrote Rob Larew, NFU President, “As NFU seeks to ensure that farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice, we look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on this issue.”

“These investments are a critical component of President Biden’s Executive Order on competition and represent an important step forward in achieving a more diverse and secure food supply chain and agricultural economy,” Larew commented. “When COVID-19 brought disruptions to our livestock markets and food supply, the need for additional, diversified processing capacity became evident to policymakers and the general public.”

NFU comments detail challenges and offer specific guidance to USDA on increasing processing competitiveness, including:

  • USDA must be mindful of the market environment in order to assure long-term success in diversifying the marketplace, recognizing that processing sector concentration places extreme pressure on new entrants to the meat industry.
  • USDA should emphasize producer-owned cooperative business structures when offering financial assistance to the development of new processing facilities.
  • USDA should stop the sale of new or expanded processing facilities to the largest processors to prevent further consolidation and should similarly prohibit the purchase of these new facilities by foreign-controlled entities. Without caution and monitoring, there could be reductions in worker safety and increases in consolidation or foreign ownership of processing capacity.
  • USDA funding should include processing plant worker training, through degree programs, certifications, and other educational opportunities.
  • USDA should dedicate resources to helping smaller processing facilities have access to shared services in human resources management, compliance, and training.

Full comments available here.

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About NFU
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Stay Connected
Look for us online at NFU.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Farmers Must be Heard during WOTUS Rule Re-Write, NFU Tells EPA and Army Corps

Nebraska Farmers Union - Tue, 08/31/2021 - 14:51

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2021

Contact: David Schuller
dschuller@nfudc.org

Today, National Farmers Union Vice President Patty Edelburg provided remarks during a public stakeholder meeting hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the agencies’ intention to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Edelburg, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, explained that NFU members understand the importance of clean water, both on their own farms and ranches, and as a shared resource. She also expressed members’ concerns about broadening the definition of what waters are considered jurisdictional under the CWA.

Edelburg asked the agencies to seek a sensible approach to environmental policy, one that protects the public and the environment, without unduly burdening farmers. In addition, NFU implored the agencies to conduct extensive outreach and engage with stakeholders, including family farmers and ranchers, throughout the rulemaking process.

“As the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA start writing rules to achieve sound environmental goals, we also ask that you consider the needs farmers and ranchers have for those rules to be clear, easy to interpret, and economically practical. We also strongly encourage the agencies to continue to conduct outreach, to listen carefully to the concerns of farmers and ranchers, and to understand the unique challenges they face on their land,” said Edelburg.

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About NFU
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Stay Connected
Look for us online at NFU.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

NeFU Provides Guidance to USDA on Investments and Opportunities For Meat and Poultry Processing Infrastructure

Nebraska Farmers Union - Tue, 08/31/2021 - 12:01

For Immediate Release August 31, 2021

Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815 or john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

NeFU Provides Guidance to USDA on Investments and Opportunities

For Meat and Poultry Processing Infrastructure

Lincoln, NE. Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) provided written guidance to USDA relative to how to utilize the additional funding that is being made available by the Biden Administration to expand the capacity of small meat processing facilities.

In their comments, NeFU offered their strong support of the “overarching and comprehensive comments offered by National Farmers Union.”

NeFU said in their letter, “NeFU strongly supports President Biden’s Executive Order on competition, and the need to develop a more diverse and secure food supply chain and agricultural economy.”

In addition, NeFU also offered general support for the “letter offered by Michael J. Boehm, Ph.D., University of Nebraska Vice President, and IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor and their request for funding for workforce education and development as well as paperwork assistance for smaller meat packer compliance.”

NeFU ’s comments made it clear the additional funding should not go the large USDA inspected meat packers. NeFU supported proportioning financial funding to expand the capacity and diversity of our meat processing system to include the following kinds of meat processing:

  • Existing small USDA inspected meat processing plants that are already comfortable with the additional scheduling and paperwork required to operate a USDA inspected plant. Many of these plants need incentives to modernize and expand their current facilities.
  • Existing custom slaughter operations that want to modernize their operations and become USDA inspected facilities so they can sell directly to retail outlets including restaurants and grocery stores as well as sell across state lines.
  • Existing custom slaughter operations that want to modernize their operations but do not want to become USDA inspected facilities. Many of these facilities provide critical services to local communities but do not want to take on the additional scheduling, paperwork, reporting, and inspection requirements needed to become USDA inspected plants.
  • New federally inspected or USDA inspected custom slaughter plants with a preference for cooperatively or community owned facilities.
  • Mobile processing units that can help meet local needs for communities without local meat processing facilities. These kinds of facilities are particularly good at meeting free range poultry processing needs.

“NeFU State President John Hansen said, “The Biden Administration has provided us with an historic opportunity to expand both the capacity and diversity of our meat packing system. That is good for meat producers and meat consumers.  When small plants modernize, they become more efficient while expanding their capacity.”

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 3,841 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Next Generation Fuels Act Introduced in the House of Representatives

Nebraska Farmers Union - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 14:07

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2021

Contact: David Schuller
dschuller@nfudc.org

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos introduced the Next Generation Fuel Act, which increases gasoline octane to a minimum standard through low-carbon, renewable fuels. Farmers and consumers stand to gain from the economic and environmental benefits brought about by this legislation.

National Farmers Union has long supported higher level blends of ethanol and welcomed Representative Cheri Bustos’ re-introduction of the legislation. Given the environmental and economic advantages, NFU president Rob Larew echoes previous statements, saying:

“There are many benefits to adopting low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends. Higher ethanol levels increase engine and vehicle efficiency, providing greater GHG emission reductions, as well as reducing emissions of criteria pollutants and air toxics such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. Several studies show the many benefits of high octane, low carbon fuels, such as E30.

“National Farmers Union is thankful to Representative Bustos for reintroducing the Next Generation Fuels Act and urges Congress to act on this important legislation to facilitate more extensive use of mid- and high-level ethanol blends.”

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About NFU
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Stay Connected
Look for us online at NFU.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

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