Press Releases

Farm Group Says Graham-Cassidy Bill Will Hurt Farmers, Ranchers, and Rural Health Care

The proposed Graham-Cassidy bill, if it became law, would harm farm and ranch families by affecting their access to quality, affordable health coverage, says Dr. Dale McCall, president of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. The farm group is urging Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming senators and representatives in Washington, D.C., to vote no on the legislation and to begin a bipartisan approach to improving the nation’s health care system.

“Our member-driven policy affirms the right of all Americans to have access to affordable and available quality health coverage,” Dr. McCall says. “The Graham-Cassidy bill does not address the barriers that farmers and ranchers and their rural friends and neighbors face in accessing affordable quality coverage: it would only make matters worse.”

The cost of health care has long been a primary concern of farmers and ranchers. Producers are more likely to sustain injuries in their daily work and often live farther away from emergency care facilities than the average American. Farmers and ranchers also endure higher levels of stress than many workers in other industries. A recent USDA-funded study found that nearly three out of four farmers and ranchers report health insurance is an important risk management strategy for their operation.

As presented, the Graham-Cassidy plan would eliminate tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and subsidies to offset out-of-pocket costs. Each of these provisions is critical to making health care more affordable for family farmers and ranchers. Allowing insurance companies to charge older customers five times as much as younger customers would also be particularly troublesome for farmers who, on average, are 58 years of age.

RMFU is extremely concerned about how the bill would impact the non-group marketplace. The plan would create even more uncertainty in the marketplace, forcing insurance companies to raise premiums. The loss of marketplace subsidies in 2020 would exacerbate the problem, leaving the marketplace far more unstable than it is currently. “Our states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming would then be left with the challenge of devising their own market-stabilizing plans in the face of annual budget decreases,” Dr. McCall says.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would make it easier to deny farm and ranch families important protections and services. Two-thirds of farmers and ranchers report having a pre-existing condition. The current requirement for insurance plans to cover 10 essential health benefits categories is particularly crucial for making prescription drugs, preventive services, and rehabilitative services affordable for family farmers and ranchers. The current prohibitions on lifetime and annual limits are also important protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. “The Graham-Cassidy amendments to the 1332 waiver would have disproportionate negative impacts on family farmers and ranchers and other rural citizens,” adds Dr. McCall.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is strongly opposed to a per capita cap or block grant form of funding Medicaid, as Medicaid enrollment is higher in rural communities than in urban areas, and rural hospitals are more dependent on Medicaid payments than their urban counterparts. The correlation between a strong Medicaid program and the success of rural hospitals has become evident. Over 70% of the 82 rural hospitals that have closed over the last six years are in states that opted not to expand Medicaid. The cap to Medicaid funding would endanger rural hospitals even further.

“RMFU believes the lack of transparency in this process is unacceptable. The Graham-Cassidy plan would have far-reaching impacts on farmers, ranchers, and all Americans. Yet, there have been limited hearings on this bill and there will be no opportunity for a mark-up,” Dr. McCall says. “This process has robbed farmers and ranchers and other rural citizens the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization, whose 22,000 members make a living farming and ranching in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The organization, founded in 1907, focuses on educational, cooperative, and legislative tools to build a better future for agriculture.

Standing Strong for New Mexico Biofuels

By Dale McCall RMFU President America’s farming communities are facing an economic crisis. Not since the 1980s have farm incomes declined so far so fast. The Wall Street Journal called it the “next American farm bust” and noted that rural communities are grappling with the steepest economic slide since the Great Depression. Billions of bushels of surplus crops are pushing down the value of U.S. ag products and nations like China are working to shut out American farm exports. Agricultural communities are looking to leaders like Senator Tom Udall for... Read More

Applications Now Being Accepted for 2015 NFU Beginning Farmers Institute

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) is now accepting applications for the 2015 class of the Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI). The annual program is open to individuals who are new to farming, in the process of transferring an operation from a relative or non-relative to themselves, or contemplating a career in farming or ranching.   “The Beginning Farmers Institute underscores NFU’s commitment to growing a new generation of family agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “One unique feature of the Institute is that participants direct the agenda,... Read More

Training the Next Generation, Feb 21st

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Denver Botanic Gardens, and National Young Farmers Coalition present the second annual Front Range Beginning Farmers Conference! When: Saturday, Feb. 21, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., followed by social time from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Where: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, a working farm at Wadsworth and C-470 Why: The average age of U.S. farmers today is 57. Two acres of farmland are lost every minute. Many young people dream of starting a farm, but lack access to land, capital, education, and training. So let’s... Read More

Fehringers are RMFU Farm Family of the Year

Donald and Carolyn Fehringer are the 2014 Farm Family of the Year. The Fehringers are among the most actively involved families in Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.   Don was born in Nebraska in 1924. In 1929 his family moved to Peetz, Colo., where Don attended and graduated from Peetz school system.  While growing up Donald went through the Farmers Union Youth program and was one of the first Torchbearer recipients. He passed away in February of last year.   Carolyn Westphalen was born in born in 1927 in Nebraska, where... Read More

Save the Date: Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum

Saturday, January 10, 2015 – 3rd Annual Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum at the Montrose Pavilion The conference has a wide array of breakout sessions which convey vital, regionally specific agricultural information in areas including maximizing crop and livestock production, innovative agricultural marketing and management strategies, and specialty crops. Please join us in working to improve the sustainable production, marketing and consumption of local food. This year’s theme is Unlocking the Secrets of Raising Great Food. Friday, January 9, 2015 – Seed Save the Rocky Mountains: Fundamentals of Regional Seed Production, a pre-conference workshop... Read More

Save the Date: Land Link Conference and Open Houses

SAVE THE DATE for Colorado Land Link events! 3rd Annual Land Link Forum March 5-7, 2015 in Southeast Colorado    Guidestone is thrilled to bring the 3rd Annual Land Link Forum to Southeast Colorado March 5-7! This year’s forum has three focus areas: 1) providing next generation farmers and ranchers with tools to access land and start or build upon successful agricultural ventures; 2) building the capacity of the Colorado Land Link program in Southeast Colorado; and 3) developing regional and  statewide leadership. Additional highlights of the forum will include:... Read More

Frankes of Roggen find success in raising hogs for Whole Foods

The view from the family farm of Chad and Carolyn Franke is breathtaking. The entire span of the snow-capped Front Range stands to the west, with Pikes Peak to the south, Longs Peak to the north, and Mount Evans in the middle. A glance to the north reveals the white grain elevator in Roggen, a community along I76. The farm is surrounded by a patchwork quilt of fields and farms. Living on the high plains is a way of life for the Frankes. Running a farm is a business, too.... Read More

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Supports Balanced National Monument Proposal

Denver, CO, December 4, 2014 – The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) today announced its support for the proposed national monument designation of Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River, located in Chaffee County in Central Colorado. According to the agricultural group, the increased protection and higher profile of a national monument designation would benefit local economies, local agriculture and natural resources. “By permanently protecting Browns Canyon as a national monument, we are protecting one of Colorado’s most precious natural resources while continuing with multiple uses, such as grazing, recreation and... Read More

Southwest Farm Fresh Co-op receives $70,000 USDA Grant

The Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative is pleased to announce receipt of a grant for $70,000 from the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program.  SWFF was the only Colorado recipient of LFPP money, and will use the grant to purchase much-needed refrigeration equipment to be used in the distribution of local farm products in this region.  The grant will fund three refrigerated cargo trailers that will be parked strategically throughout the SWFF collection and distribution area, and will function as drop sites for member farms.  The refrigerated SWFF delivery truck will collect... Read More