Drought, Declining Farm Income Concern RMFU Delegates, leaders
DENVER, Colo. – Farmers and ranchers from Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming are concerned about the severe drop in overall farm income. Collectively, they also want more federal and state attention given to water management given the damage this year’s drought caused across the region.
Delegates, members, and guests attending the annual Rocky Mountain Farmers Union convention remain hopeful that by working together they can find solutions to the significant challenges facing families who farm and ranch. Delegates adopted a Special Order of Business that, in part, states, “RMFU will advocate for State, Inter-Basin and Federal rules and legislation that advocate for the sharing of burden across all water sectors, water users, and across the continental divide so that agricultural water rights, and agriculture itself, are not adversely or unjustly injured.” Farmers and ranchers prefer to work cooperatively to manage water rights and storage rather than creating a system of winners and losers.
RMFU members are equally concerned about overall farm income, which has declined by 50 percent in the past five years. Action by the U.S. to start a trade war with China, Canada, Mexico, and Europe has caused further uncertainty. Additionally, Congress allowed the current farm bill to expire in September, adding to the mounting frustration among farmers and ranchers.
Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to this uncertainty. Based on his experience as the former governor of Iowa and as USDA Secretary, Vilsack said the U.S. should and could have been more specific in why it launched a trade war, especially with China. He said the trade war failed to include American allies to emphasize the need for change, nor did anyone seriously consider how tariffs against the U.S. would hurt American farmers. The war has decimated the export market for U.S. soybeans. “I don’t know that that market comes back,” Vilsack said. RMFU President Dr. Dale McCall presented Vilsack with the President’s Award in recognition of Vilsack’s ongoing efforts as an advocate for America’s farm and ranch families.
Ken and Angie Macy of Pine Bluff, Wyoming, were named as RMFU’s 2018 Farm Family of the Year. Members Sally Harms and Mike Nolan each were presented with the John Stencel Leadership Award. Chuck Holum, retiring RMFU general counsel, accepted the Meritorious Service Award. The Cooperative Achievement Award went to Mountain States Lamb Cooperative.
Learn more about the RMFU and how you can become a member online @ http://www.rmfu.org