Policy Updates and News – September 2015

Pope, Presidents and Politics

Washington, D.C is high profile in national and international headlines this week.  Pope Francis comes from Cuba to Washington to meet with President Obama, address Congress, speak to huge crowds on the Mall, conduct mass and participate in several meetings.  On the heels of the Pope’s tour comes President Xi Jinping of China for meetings with President Obama and congressional leaders.  Liberals in the nation’s capital hope the Pope will address poverty, immigration and climate change.  Conservatives hope the Pope will have abortion, selling fetal tissue, tax dollars to Planned Parenthood and the moral fabric of the nation on his agenda.  Lawmakers are hopeful the dialogue with Chinese President Xi includes common agricultural objectives, trade and science-based regulatory decision-making for biotech crops and grains.

Waters of the Unites States (WOTUS) Rule Opposition Grows

The 197-page regulation from the EPA and Corps of Engineers designed to control practically all waters and land mass in the country has received a barrage of opposition from many quarters.  A federal judge in North Dakota blocked the implementation of WOTUS in 13 states.  At total of 31 states and a dozen farmer, rancher, land owner and business organizations have filed various legal actions for WOTUS relief.  The House of Representatives has approved a bill to block the bill.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 1140 to kill the rule but supporters are still looking for the 60 votes necessary to move it to the floor.  The best chance of blocking the rule short term is likely to be an appropriations rider that would bar funding for the rule’s implementation during fiscal 2016.

Could the Monarch Butterfly be a Naturally Occurring GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)?

Research with DNA is opening up all kinds of new frontiers.  Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is a molecule which contains the genetic instructions that makes each species unique.  DNA samples have become routine in criminal investigations to identify individuals.  Genetic markers, called DNA barcodes, are the latest technology used to identify the genetic origin of plants, animals, bacteria and fungi.   The food industry is poised to use DNA barcodes to test authenticity of an ingredient or whether a food might be contaminated by microbes or an allergen.   A monarch butterfly’s genome contains DNA sequences that come from another species of insect.  Researchers in Spain and France found that a particular species of parasitic wasps has the ability to inject viral DNA into the caterpillar and the monarch butterfly that emerges will have its genetic makeup altered by the wasp through a process known as Horizontal Gene Transfer.  The GMO monarch’s offspring are now better able to build immune defenses against the egg-laying wasp.

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has concluded hearing arguments from Canada and Mexico regarding the amounts of retaliatory tariffs to be levied against the United States stemming from the country of origin labeling dispute.  Previously, in four separate rulings, WTO confirmed the U.S. law requiring label disclosure of where animals were born, raised and harvested was protectionist and gave less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock.  Canada and Mexico are seeking combined retaliatory tariffs of about $3 billion annually.  A final ruling on the arbitration is expected in November.  The House of Representatives voted in June to repeal COOL.  The Senate is considering a separate bill to replace COOL with a voluntary label specifying born and raised in the USA.

Rail Service Improving for 2015 Harvest

The frustration from inconsistent and tardy rail service that plagued the 2013 and 2014 harvests doesn’t appear to be a factor for the fall of 2015.  Elevator operators are reporting good availability of rail cars and cooperation from the railroads.  This is a stark contrast to reports in 2013-14.  The seven largest railroads are expected to spend a combined $29 billion on network improvements this year.  That’s almost as much as the $35 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the federal interstate system.

Laid-Off Workers Shun Ag Jobs

With crude oil prices in the tank and oil field workers out of jobs, one would think AG jobs, even at lower pay, would be an attractive alternative to unemployment.  Not so say farmers and ranchers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada.  Ag jobs such as livestock handling, equipment operation, truck driving and welding seem to be of little interest to laid-off roughnecks.  The workers have been accustomed to wages up to $25/hour and are drawing Canadian employment insurance benefits until those benefits expire.

If Your Health Insurance is Great, Watch Out for the “Cadillac” Tax

Beginning in 2018, a 40 percent non-deductible excise tax on high cost health plans goes into effect.  Under the Affordable Care Act, both fully insured and self-funded employer health plans will be assessed a 40 percent tax on the dollar amount of any employee premium that exceeds the annual limits of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.  These amounts do include employer and employee contributions to flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts.

Congress to Reauthorize Mandatory Price Reporting

The Senate has approved reauthorization for USDA to continue to require meat packers to report the prices they pay for cattle, hogs and lambs, and the prices they receive for wholesale meat cuts.  The Senate also reauthorized grain inspection standards which are necessary for grains entering the export market.  The House has already passed similar reauthorization.    Previous authorization for both services expires at the end of this fiscal year September 30.

What Else is Your Grange Working On?

Tele Med Act – To allow a Medicare physician licensed in one state to treat a Medicare patient regardless of location.

Spectrum Reallocation – Legislation to reallocate spectrum (broadband connectivity) from unused government licenses to commercial (and rural) broadband.

Medicare Part D and Part 340B issues.

Patent Reform – To protect patents from infringement and frivolous lawsuits

Modernizing the Universal Lifeline Program – Continue to guarantee low cost phone service to the nation’s most vulnerable and needy citizens.

149th Annual Convention – Lincoln, Nebraska November 1014, 2015.

National Grange President’s September 2015 Message

In this September message, National Grange President Ed Luttrell discusses the the fall harvest, education, and the importance of our Grange culture. Mr. Luttrell also emphasizes the importance of our State Grange annual sessions and encourages you to attend your State’s session as well as the National Session this year in Lincoln, Nebraska.

As always, we hope you like and subscribe to these videos. It’s our way of sharing important information with each and all of you.

As always, we hope you like and subscribe to these videos. It’s our way of sharing important information with each and all of you.

Close caption for this and other videos can be displayed by clicking on the closed caption icon in the bottom of the video window. (see below)

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Definition of Waters of the United States is Now Totally Confused



The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is now the law of the land for much of the country but not all the country. A 197 page regulation from the EPA and Corps of Engineers that will further regulate practically all waters and land mass in the country went into effect Friday, August 28. However, it will not be enforced in 13 states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico) but will be in effect for the remainder of the country. On Thursday, August 27, a federal judge in North Dakota blocked implementation of the WOTUS rule in the 13 states that had filed in his court.


In his ruling, Judge Erickson said, “Once the Rule takes effect, the States will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the Clean Water Act.” A dozen farmer, rancher, land owner and business organizations and a total of 31 states have filed various legal actions for relief from the WOTUS rule. One of their primary concerns is the apparent disregard for private property rights. An editorial in the Investor’s Business Daily suggested, “The EPA interpretation would lead to private land owners having to ask permission from the government to do anything. It would give the EPA sweeping control over almost all private land in America.” The EPA, however, responded immediately that the rule would go into effect in the remaining states on Friday.


National Grange policy recognizes the importance of protecting all watersheds but opposes any mandate that suggests all watersheds are to meet the same water quality standards. We believe Americans must not sacrifice their property under the guise of environment, climate change, critical habitat, urban sprawl or other initiatives.




Contact your two U.S. Senators
Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard
Ask for your Senator’s office
Request your Senator to vote to stop the WOTUS rule



Federal Appeals Court Makes Disappointing Decision on Patents

On August 13 – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc in the Apple-Samsung patent dispute. The National Grange has closely followed this lawsuit for its impact on Grange members’ access to advanced telecommunications technologies. Last month we filed an Amicus brief urging the court to reconsider the $399 million penalty imposed for alleged design patent infringement covering basic shapes.

The Court’s decision yesterday is a blow to industries and consumers. The decision itself was no more than a paragraph and ignores several industry briefs that were filed in response to the hearing en banc, including one from the Grange. As the law currently stands, a design patent infringement can result in the infringing entity being liable for the total profits earned on the product in which the design is incorporated regardless of the importance of the patented design. This is a far cry from reasonable royalty damages used for utility patents, meaning that an infringer is liable only for damages correlating with the patent(s)’ contribution to the overall product.

As we explained in our blog, the current interpretation of design patent law (Section 289 of the U.S. patent code) opens the door for businesses and individuals to seek outsized settlements for design patents, further incentivizing trolling and patent assertion. The federal court has had several opportunities to update its interpretation of Section 289, but now it’s possible the issue could go before the Supreme Court. Without clarification, design patents could become the new target for trolls and ultimately impact consumers, particularly those in rural areas where access and price for technology is critical.

Spectrum Need

Ed+Luttrell_PROFILEThe United States is experiencing a “Mobile Revolution”. Experts predict that by 2020 the number of connected devices will reach 50 billion.

The “Mobile Revolution” is changing how Americans communicate and manage nearly every aspect of daily life. These advancements have made life easier, more enjoyable, and more productive for the millions who have embraced these innovative technologies. Among those who are embracing and relying on wireless broadband services at an increasingly rapid pace – although often over looked – are farmers, ranchers, and others who make up our rural communities.

Mobile broadband connectivity has become an increasingly important part of life for rural America. Many farmers rely heavily on applications to provide critical weather and crop information while access to high speed wireless services and products allow rural Americans to have greater access to telemedicine, educational opportunities, and provide vital connections to public safety.

Congress is currently considering legislation to reallocate spectrum from the federal government for commercial use by mobile broadband providers. In fact, on July 19 the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled “Wireless Broadband and the Future of Spectrum Policy” .

Hearings such as this are important stepping-stones for ensuring future mobile broadband connectivity and creating solid public policy that allows all Americans to take full advantage of mobile technologies now and in the future. With the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and the majority of consumers opting for the latest smartphones, tablets, or other connected devices – mobile broadband providers are facing a swiftly approaching spectrum shortage.

This is cause for concern for all Americans but particularly for our rural communities. Spectrum is critical to expanding high-speed mobile broadband and the demand for spectrum has never been higher. It’s estimated that wireless Internet traffic in North America is expected to grow more than 41-fold from 2011 to 2016, which is why it’s so critical for Congress to infuse more spectrum into the commercial market.

We are facing this shortage because the federal government is sitting on an overwhelming majority of spectrum. However, clearing and deploying new spectrum takes years, so in order to ensure a steady stream of spectrum to meet consumer demand, we have to begin now.

Repurposing spectrum held by the federal government for commercial use will generate significant economic activity. The Federal Communications Commission recently concluded a spectrum auction, which raised a groundbreaking $45 billion, money that’s used to reduce our growing national deficit.

The National Grange believes high-speed mobile broadband will dramatically improve life in rural America. It will create opportunities for young Americans to pursue their interests in rural America, while remaining connected with the entire globe. It will aid our older citizens to remain healthier and independent in their golden years. We must pursue all available options to provide the same high-speed wireless access seen in suburban communities to rural America.

Now is the time for congress to pass legislation that creates a long-term and predictable future for releasing valuable spectrum in order to meet the growing consumer demand for wireless technology.

The 149th Annual National Grange Convention Fastly Approaches

Mark your calendars and plan to attend the 149th Annual National Grange Convention to be held
November 10-14, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska.


As you are gearing up for your travel to the 149th Annual National Grange Convention, please
note that there are various travel options available to you.
Travel options are:

Lincoln Airport (LNK), located in Lincoln
Distance 4 miles from hotel
Host committee will provide transportation from this location.

Amtrak (LNK), located in Lincoln
Distance 0.54 miles from hotel
Host committee will provide transportation from this location.
Website: www.amtrak.com

Eppley Airfield (OMA), located in Omaha
Distance 65 miles from hotel
Contact Omalink for shuttle service to hotel in Lincoln. Fee required.
Website: www.omalink.com | Phone: (402) 475-5465


cornhuskeyThe Cornhusker
333 S 13th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
(866) 706-7706


Washington’s Overlooked Barrier to Internet Access

A growing consensus is emerging in Washington about the necessity of reliable access to the Internet and online resources. Last week, in front of a packed auditorium in the capital of the Choctaw Nation, President Obama unveiled the ConnectHome initiative, which aims to provide high-speed internet to some 200,000 rural and low-income families. The month prior, Congressional leaders introduced the Digital Learning Equity Act, seeking to rollout greater out-of-school Internet access for students through Department of Education grants.

As the Internet has fast become the bedrock of commerce and communication, such efforts are critical to ensure a level playing field for businesses and communities, especially those in the rural pockets of the country.

Congress has been spinning its wheels trying to address utility patent trolls, yet they’re ignoring the looming threat of design patent trolls that have seen a catalyst from recent court decisions. Specifically, recent interpretations of Section 289 of the U.S. patent code have opened the door for businesses and individuals to seek outsized settlements for design infringements, which could further incentivize patent trolling and predatory patent litigation.

In May of this year, without any analysis of the importance of the patented designs, the Federal court ruled that an entity that infringes on a patented design could be held liable for all the profits earned from the product in which the design is incorporated. This can lead to the absurd scenario in which an unwitting infringer could be forced to pay their full profits several times over if they intrude on more than one protected design. Given that many products, especially high-tech devices incorporate numerous patented components, the outcome is untenable.

Consider, for example, a situation in which the manufacturer of a tractor might be forced to pay all his or her profits from the equipment because it infringed on a patent covering the design of the fender. The manufacturer might then be required to pay the same amount to a second patent holder with the rights to the wheel design. It quickly becomes a race of who can bleed them dry first.

This multiple damage scenario is particularly likely to occur when a single product contains different patented features held by several owners. It’s not difficult to see how soon the tractor manufacturer has little incentive to produce the equipment at all.

The potential infringement claims don’t stop at the manufacturer. It can trickle down to the store selling the tractor as well as tractor owners – who frankly aren’t purchasing tractors based on fender or wheel design, yet could be paying large sums for operating the infringing machinery. This domino effect is thanks to the “make available for sale” provision in Section 289, which shares blame with those selling an allegedly infringing a product. Under this interpretation, if a farm operator purchased equipment or tools that have infringing design patents on them online from a company like eBay or Amazon, does this then make eBay or Amazon liable for “exposing the sale” of products that infringe on design patents, even if for a minor feature? If this is the case, this will have a chilling effect on these necessary business models that provide rural customers access to a wide range of products difficult to obtain locally.

The dilemma is particularly troublesome for technology providers, and thereby for the individuals who rely on the devices they create to access the Internet. A recent Pew Research study found one in five American adults rely on their smartphone as their primary, and often only, access to the internet. In rural parts of the country still lacking adequate broadband infrastructure, it’s not uncommon that a smartphone serve as their sole connection to the Internet. Barriers that hamper development of new devices obstruct their access to online resources.

Because smartphones and other modern appliances utilize many patented technologies – the iPhone, for example, hundreds of patented elements – developers face the risk of paying out their full profit for intruding only a few discrete features, as was a court’s decision in a recent case between Apple and Samsung. With such sizable consequences, companies may well forego developing new technologies for fear it will end up costing them.

Simply put, infringement penalties should fit the scope of the infringement. One wouldn’t expect the tractor manufacturer to give up all his or her profits because of a bumper design. That shouldn’t be the case in the U.S. technology markets either.

As early as late nineteenth-century, the National Grange has advocated the risks in design patent law. In 1879, our organization cautioned about emergence of “patent sharks,” some of earliest predatory patent abusers, which patented designs on crowbars, hoes and other tools and then demanded to be paid by others in the agricultural industry. In the Apple-Samsung case [CLICK HERE TO VIEW BRIEF], the National Grange filed an Amicus brief urging the court to reconsider the outsized $399 million penalty imposed because the ruling’s implications for modern day tools – tools that are helping to close the digital divide.

In response to the courts’ failure to curb patent litigation abuse, for the past year, Congress has been debating various patent reforms. In the case of design patents, it looks like the court has again failed to interpret the law reasonably and indeed laid the groundwork for additional frivolous litigation. While we filed a brief calling on the Court to revisit this issue, if Court denies a rehearing or fails to set a reasonable standard for the award of total profits, Congress should turn some attention to the issue of design patents and provide much-needed guidance to the courts.

Policy Updates and News – July 2015

EPA is Determined to Enforce Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule

What is the WOTUS Rule?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to begin enforcing its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation on August 28.  The final version is more specific about what would be exempt such as underground drainage from farm land.  However, it also makes significant changes in definitions of tributaries and regulated wetlands.  Definitions of tributaries were actually broadened in the final rule making so-called tributaries even more difficult for landowners to identify (they may even be invisible to the landowner or may no longer exist on the landscape).  The final rule allows the agencies to identify tributaries based entirely on past rather than current conditions using “desktop” tools to indicate ephemeral tributaries were once present.  Essentially, tributaries include any landscape feature where water sometimes flows in that feature and eventually reaches navigable water, no matter how many miles away.  Therefore, WOTUS could well become a federal land use control mechanism that regulates practices for entire watersheds.

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1732 which would require consultation with local and state governments, alter the way tributaries are identified and sets limits on what wetlands could be regulated. The House also passed the Energy and Water Appropriations bill with a provision that blocks EPA from using appropriated funds (FY’16) to implement the WOTUS regulation.  Several more appropriations bills pending in the House and Senate contain blocking language for FY ’16 as do several more free-standing bills.

The President has promised to veto legislation that blocks or restricts implementation of the WOTUS rule.  Therefore it is important that Congress pass anti-WOTUS legislation, 1) by a veto-proof majority  or, 2) roll WOTUS-blocking appropriations bills into a FY ’16 omnibus spending package that would shut down the government if the President vetoes the omnibus.

In the meantime, 12 farmer, rancher, landowner, forest, manufacturing, building, and transportation groups have filed a complaint against the EPA and Corps of Engineers in a Texas federal district court.  The complaint claims the new WOTUS rule goes beyond the intentions of the Clean Water Act, exercises broad control over land use and is unconstitutional.  In addition, 28 states have now filed lawsuits to halt the WOTUS rule in 5 U.S. District Courts in Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Texas.

Actions for Grangers:

Contact your Senators and Representatives by phone, email or letter immediately and urge them to vote against Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule at every opportunity.  Then, contact their state office (Senators) or district office (Representatives) to set up a face-to-face meeting when Congress is home for their month-long August Recess.

A Reasonable Compromise to GMO Labeling?

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599) on a huge 275-150 bipartisan vote. The bill clearly establishes FDA as the nation’s lead authority on food safety. It creates a voluntary labeling program administered by USDA and would certify that foods bearing the label do not contain GMO ingredients. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service currently certifies a broad array of popular programs such as Certified Organic and Certified Angus Beef.

This bill appears to be a reasonable labeling compromise because the measure, 1) will give consumers a clear choice regarding GMOs and food, 2) removes labeling schemes that stigmatize foods based on nothing more than the way they were developed, 3) prevents a confusing patchwork of 50-state labeling policies for foods that may contain GMO ingredients, 4) clarifies that non-GMO milk and non-GMO meat must come from animals fed non-biotech feed, 5) allows state departments of agriculture to serve as certifying agents for non-GMO labeling, 6) requires FDA safety approval for new biotech crops prior to USDA approval for commercial use, 7) requires FDA to write definitions for labeling foods as “natural” because no official definitions currently exist, 8) allows state and local governments to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops within their jurisdiction and, 9) allows farmers to create enhanced markets for consumers who prefer GMO-free food. Both FDA and USDA were involved in drafting the bill.

Confusion and misinformation about GMO food labels are being scrutinized more often these days. The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all declared there is no good evidence GMOs are unsafe. The Pew Research Center found 88 percent of scientists said food containing GMO ingredients is generally safe to eat, but only 37 percent of the public shared that view. Unfortunately, some food companies have exploited GMOs as a marketing tool. Fortunately, major media like the Washington Post’s editorial board are beginning to investigate the divergence between informed opinion and popular anxiety.

National Grange policy has long supported the consumer’s right to know what they are buying. At the same time, National Grange policy opposes mandatory labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients that can be construed as a warning label until such time as credible scientific studies indicate health risks.

House and Senate Differ on Highway Funding

The House has approved $8 billion to push back bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund for five months from July 31 to December 18. In the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Boxer (D-CA) have reached a bipartisan deal for three years funding. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure before the August recess. The trust fund traditionally finances highway and bridge infrastructure projects with proceeds from the gas tax. A major sticking point between the House and Senate is whether to raise gas taxes necessary to breathe life into the Highway Trust Fund long term or to find other offsets such customs fees indexed to inflation and selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After Senate passage, differences between the Senate provisions and House provisions will be resolved in a joint Senate-House conference committee and returned to each body for approval.

Tax Extenders for Two Years or Permanent?

Expired tax provisions critical to agriculture and energy development are getting renewed attention on Capitol Hill. The Senate Finance Committee, with strong bipartisan support, approved a two year extension of expired tax benefits plus indexed them for inflation. Extenders included Section 179 expensing which allows for immediate expense deduction for items such as equipment, 50 percent depreciation deduction allowance, $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit, $1.01 per gallon tax subsidy for cellulosic biofuels, a 30 percent investment tax credit for ethanol blender pumps, wind energy tax credits and more.   The House prefers to make these and other extenders permanent linked with a long-term highway bill and perhaps additional tax reform later in the year.


Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was passed by Congress in June and signed by the President. TPA restores the President’s authority to negotiate trade deals with other governments and submit them to Congress for approval. Focus now turns to finalizing the twelve -nation Pacific Rim Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).   Negotiations on TPP have been progressing for several years. Significant progress has been made on the agricultural market access aspects of the agreement. A ministerial meeting aimed at finalizing the trade deal is set for the last week of July but most seasoned trade observers doubt that time line is feasible. Complications have arisen over so-called Japanese “sacred products” policies which include rice and beef as well as Canadian dairy and poultry policies. These differences will likely be resolved in coming months and the package will likely come before Congress later this fall. When TPP is finalized, the National Grange will scrutinize its approval process to be sure United States sovereignty is not being compromised. Sovereignty sensitivity has been heightened as a result of the United Nations (UN) vote to approve the Iran nuclear deal prior to a vote by the U.S. Congress.

Rural Broadband, High Speed Internet and Lifeline Phones

USDA is funding $74.8 million in telecom loans and $11 million in community connect grants. According to Secretary Vilsack, “Broadband is fundamental to expanding economic activity and job creation in rural areas, and it is as vital to rural America’s future as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago.” Several communities throughout the country that are currently without high-speed internet service or whose infrastructure needs upgrading will apply these funds to next-generations broadband service.   The National Grange is actively engaged in all initiatives whether traditional telephone service, cell phone service, wireless connectivity or the government’s Lifeline program that will better serve isolated and undeserved citizens.

Patent Reform

The House and Senate are currently working through efforts to make legislative updates to the U.S. patent system. Patent laws were created throughout our history to preserve the integrity and proprietary rights of patent holders against infringement. Lengthy and costly litigation has historically plagued the patent industry. Congress attempted to address this problem in 2011 by creating the Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceeding to provide a faster and more cost-effective alternative to litigation. Unfortunately, a number of unintended consequences resulted, and third parties who have no commercial interest in the patent are using this system for financial gain by threatening to force a parent into IPR proceedings. The National Grange will continue to seek a fair and equitable resolve.

Famers, Foodies and Family Farms

Farming is “en vogue”.   Consumers are demonstrating their enthusiasm for all things “foodie” demanding fresh, local foods, the raw authenticity of farmers markets, farm-to-table restaurants and celebrity chefs. Some are even taking their food culture passion a step further and exploring farming as a way of life as a means to positively impact the environment and climate change. Certainly there is a huge disconnect between the Norman Rockwell image of American farming and the reality of what agriculture is today. So we have a new public passion, particularly among millennials, for food and agriculture but that passion is embedded in a caricature of a bygone era. Then add the growing perception that “big is bad” and agriculture is controlled by huge corporate farms. Is there any hope for farmers and foodies to work together? We can start by telling folks that 97% of all U.S. farms are family owned, 88% of all U.S. farms are small family farms, and 18% of principle operators on family farms started their business within the last 10 years. Most food on the table today have origins with multi-generational farm families who, over the decades, have grown their business in the spirit of the American dream. While they share the Rockwell heritage, they may look more like what’s been coined ‘big ag”. Most leading-edge family farmers are among the most sustainable stewards of the land, employing continuous improvement strategies to enhance the environment, save the soil, conserve water and treat animals humanely.

The Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has focused on some trust-building initiatives for those of us in production agriculture to remember when we’re dealing with our “public” which could include our friends and neighbors. These are worth noting:

  • Get engaged in the narrative stakeholders are having around you
  • Be transparent and build on shared values
  • Listen, acknowledge and respect public concerns; don’t be defensive
  • Demonstrate best practices already in place as well as your commitment to continuous improvement
  • Share what’s not possible and why
  • Commit to a long term conversation

The end game is earning and sustaining trust and building relationships that cross both the consumer and political market place.

National Grange President’s July 2015 Message

In this July message, National Grange President Ed Luttrell discusses the exciting new Granges that are being organized across the country. Mr. Luttrell also emphasizes the importance of our State Grange annual sessions and encourages you to attend your State’s session as well as the National Session this year in Lincoln, Nebraska.

As always, we hope you like and subscribe to these videos. It’s our way of sharing important information with each and all of you.

Close caption for this and other videos can be displayed by clicking on the closed caption icon in the bottom of the video window. (see below)

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National Grange President’s June 2015 Message

In this June message, National Grange President Ed Luttrell recaps the successes of the National Grange Annual Legislative Fly-in. Mr. Luttrell then discusses the importance of being involved in your local, state, and federal legislative process. In addition, Mr. Luttrell then touches on the fun events Grange members can take advantage of their local areas during the month of June.

As always, we hope you like and subscribe to these videos. It’s our way of sharing important information with each and all of you.

Close caption for this and other videos can be displayed by clicking on the closed caption icon in the bottom of the video window. (see below)

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