Pa. Farmers Union lays out priorities for new year

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LANCASTER, Pa. — One hundred family farmers and ranchers attended the Pennsylvania Farmers Union Convention Feb. 6, celebrating the organization’s success on the federal farm bill and in-state policy priorities.

PFU delegates also participated in the organization’s unique, grassroots policy-setting process, and ultimately adopted the organization’s policy book and special orders of business to help guide the organization through the next year.

“We’re encouraged by the strong turnout at our convention this year, as it demonstrates the importance of our work and the enthusiasm farmers in our state have for bettering the state and the country,” said PFU President Heidi Secord. “As a voice for Pennsylvania’s farm families, our policy adoption process is the heart of our work. It guides our work as an organization, and ultimately influences what National Farmers Union brings to the table in Washington, D.C.

Two conventions

The Convention took place on Feb. 6 at the Lancaster County Convention Center, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Winter Conference. The convention highlighted a presentation by a dairy panel made up of progressive Pennsylvania Dairy farmers.

Sarah Lloyd, a dairy farmer and director of special projects for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, moderated the session. The panel focused on resilient dairy farmers and diverse markets.

“It is very powerful to be able to hear from farmers from other states,” said Sarah Lloyd. “Pennsylvania has great examples of farmers that are finding new ways to connect with consumers and get a better price for their products. We have lots to learn from each other on how we can build markets that actually work for family farmers.”

The convention also featured a farm-to-table meal, provided by PFU members. Convention attendees heard remarks from Heidi Secord, Pa. state president, Abby Ferris, membership director at NFU, Rob Larew, senior vice president of public policy and Communications, and Colin O’Neil, legislative director for the Environmental Working Group.

Priority issues

Policy priorities included medical and recreational cannabis. PFU supports creation of a regulated and fair marketplace for medical and recreational cannabis, and opposes a “pay to play” system, which disadvantages small family farms and farmers.

Additional specifics were debated and approved. PFU supports the passage of legislation, policies, regulations, and guidance at the state level that would protect farms engaging in agritourism activities as a diversified income stream related to their farming activities.

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