IMG_5191Pennsylvania Farmers Union members and nearly 250 fellow farmers, ranchers and fishermen from across the country met in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8 to 10, 2014, for the National Farmers Union annual Fall Legislative Fly-In.

“Meeting with our representatives in Congress allowed us to personalize the issues currently affecting farmers and their customers on a national level,” PFU Vice-President Heidi Secord (Monroe Co.) said. “This is especially important considering the fact that important legislation is under attack and there are oversight hearings about the new Farm Bill. Having the opportunity to voice our concerns directly to policymakers is one of the most important ways we can make a difference for all family farmers and ranchers.”

While in Washington, D.C., fly-in participants met with members of Congress, focusing on four priority issues: opposing any legislative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s flawed proposal for 2014 blending targets; stopping any effort to undermine Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL); bringing attention to rail issues in the Midwest; and ensuring the Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region is not supported in its current form. “America’s farmers are ready, willing and able to play a vital role in educating consumers about where their food comes from, decreasing America’s dependency on foreign oil, and addressing rail transportation issues in the Midwest. With the right policies in place we can continue to feed the world and fuel the future,” NFU President Roger Johnson said.

Fly-in participants presented the organization’s highest honor, the Golden Triangle Award, to a bipartisan group of 40 senators and representatives who have demonstrated leadership on issues relevant to America’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. This included Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, representing Pennsylvania’s 8th district, for his 2014 voting record.

The fly-in also included a Monday morning visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other USDA officials briefed participants and took questions on pending agriculture issues, as well as briefings with White House staff members on the subjects of immigration as it pertains to farmworkers, agriculture-related initiatives and rural affairs.

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