While in Washington, D.C., Farm Director KC Sheperd caught up with the President of the National Farmers Union, Rob Larew, and talked about the latest work from the National Farmers Union advocating and working to make sure the voices of farmers and ranchers are heard.
“In Oklahoma, and really across the country, a lot of things we are focusing on right now is making sure that folks don’t lose sight of the fact that farmers need the freedom to farm,” Larew said. “What that means most specifically is making sure that we have the right to repair. I think most folks don’t really understand that with today’s sophisticated equipment and the fact that we have just a handful of equipment manufacturers out there, that too few players also means that those monopoly powers ultimately take control, and farmers who are very equipped to be able to manage a lot of the repairs on their own are simply boxed out of that.”
Close to 16 states, Larew said, have bills before their legislators addressing a producer’s ability to repair his or her own equipment.
“In Colorado, which is the one that we have had the most progress in so far, it is actually passed out of their legislature and is now ready for the Governor to sign,” Larew said. “We expect him to sign it, and this will put in place the promises that the equipment manufacturers have made over the years, the promises they have made to other farm groups and so forth, and actually puts in law that they have to back that up with real meaningful access to Right to Repair.”
Another concern for producers at the moment is drought, Larew said, so helping them make it through this time is a top priority.
“Making sure that if we are talking about cattle, that we have risk management policies in place that really provide help for the folks,” Larew said. “At the end of the day, the farm bill is about a safety net. It is not about a guarantee that folks will be able to farm or be successful at it, but making sure they have at least a fighting chance, a fair chance, and a safety net underneath it to make it happen,” Larew said.
Larew also talked about the National Farmers Union’s 122nd Anniversary Convention and the issues discussed at the event.
“It was a fantastic event,” Larew said.
Progress is being made in the Fairness for Farmers campaign, Larew said, on many fronts, including improving price discovery in cattle markets, Right to Repair, and more.
“Farmers are not asking for something to guarantee some success or to guarantee some sort of revenue out there,” Larew said. “We just want markets to function. We are all businessmen. We want these markets to function fairly and openly, and transparently. Right now, with too few players in so many parts of the agriculture chain, whether we are talking livestock, whether we are talking grains, or any part of agriculture, we need to make sure that markets are functioning properly. At the end of the day, if we have that, we feel like we have a fighting chance.”