AURORA–The 94th annual convention of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) closed Nov. 23, with delegates calling on U.S. Congress and President George Bush to pass emergency disaster assistance legislation immediately upon reconvening the 2003 congressional session.
“It is inconceivable to independent producers suffering from the worst drought on record in the Rocky Mountain region that Congress would leave Washington, for the holidays without discussing emergency assistance for agricultural producers,” said RMFU Policy Committee Chairman Elwin Poe. “If it were a hurricane, assistance would have been committed within 24 hours, yet many of the producers in our region have had three, and even four years, of drought.”
RMFU delegates passed a special order of business entitled “Food for Defense,” which called for a national food and fiber policy to strengthen family farm production in order to assure citizens safe, affordable, healthy, abundant, domestically-produced food. “A nation is only as strong as its military, and a military is only as strong as its stomach. Therefore, in times of war and national emergency, it is imperative that we have an abundant food supply, produced within the boundaries of our nation,” said the special order.
A third special order of business specified that water belonging to them should continue to be made available to independent agricultural producers. This provision was passed in anticipation of the concern that the some of the 90 water bills expected to be offered during the upcoming session of the Colorado legislative session might attempt to forcibly transfer water from producers to urban and other users.
An appeal passed by delegates asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary to cease the appeal of the decision in 2000 of U.S. pork producers to end the pork checkoff program. “I see no reason to spend taxpayer dollars on legal fees to appeal a decision clearly and decisively made by the producers who pay this checkoff tax,” said John Long, an Eaton, Colo., pork producer who offered the successful amendment to RMFU policy.
Other changes to the organization’s policy included a provision to ensure that genetically modified organisms, such as new seed varieties, be thoroughly tested before being released for use by farmers.
RMFU, which has a membership of 22,000, in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, holds an annual convention to adopt a policy program for the coming year, to elect board members and officers, and to conduct other business necessary to the operation of the organization.