Midsummer Message from New England Farmers Union
Hi folks. New England Farmers Union President, Roger Noonan, is hard at work on the farm, and staff is hard at work making sure we keep adding new members. Since we'll bet that you're having a busy summer too, we chose this month to begin our bi-monthly newsletter. You’ll receive a newsletter every other month. Fewer emails, more relevant content in each one.
Speaking of adding new members: it’s really important.
Ask yourself, does agriculture policy really affect you? Yes, of course it does. Your farm, your community, your region could be stronger if federal farm policy favored small and mid-size family producers instead of big ag.
Take FSMA as an example. The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed in 2010, and was meant to increase the government’s ability to respond to outbreaks of food-borne illness. However, the proposed regulations would have made compliance cumbersome and expensive for smaller operators — to the point of likely putting out of business most of the small to mid-size farms in New England.
New England Farmers Union exists to make sure federal agriculture policies and regulations encourage — not inhibit — the success of our region’s family farmers. We bring together the thousands of farmers in New England and amplify those voices.
We need to increase our membership to make that voice stronger. We need you to join New England Farmers Union.
We must ensure that FSMA education and training is fully funded.
We must work for federal programs that benefit local and regional agriculture, that foster innovation, promote scaling up, and increase access to markets.
We must make sure policy makers recognize that farms improve public health, create jobs in rural communities (and increasingly in urban settings), preserve open space, and serve the hungry. Your membership makes that case.
Simply put, we need more members that are more engaged in more states in New England so we can get better traction on policy that benefits us.
If you’re already a member, you know we recently conducted a member survey. We got a tremendous response from our membership; thank you to all who took the time to participate and share your views. And congratulations to Richard Rhames of Shady Brook Farm in Biddeford, Maine, who won these great prizes from our member farms: Goldenrod Honey from Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, Mass.; Black Currant Cordial from Bug Hill Farm in Ashfield, Mass.; and Food Lover’s Guide to Maine by Margaret Hathaway of Ten Apple Farm in Gray, Maine.
We received great feedback from members and learned that what 78 percent of respondents value most about Farmers Union is our work to be the voice of family farmers. Members also asked us for a few things:
- “New ideas that would help my nursery continue to grow and be profitable”
- “Continued networking opportunities”
- “Progress reports on both successes and defeats”
- “Continued work protecting farmers in our region and highlighting how co-operatives secure a better food system”
- “Solid alternative farm insurance and advocacy that is more progressive and in tune with New England small farmers"
- “Knowing when I need to reach out to a legislator to inform her that NE farmers want her to vote a certain way”
We hear you and are working hard to meet your needs!
We were also glad to hear that members overwhelmingly supported our four core policy initiatives for 2015:
- Food safety training funding
- Protecting mandatory conservation funding
- Food hubs supplying institutions
- Bringing farmers to the table
Our policy priorities are set by our membership. If you are not a member, would you consider joining us? You receive our newsletter because you care about the work we do. We need you to step up and join now. Become a member of New England Farmers Union today. See you in August.