Approximately 75 National Farmers Union (NFU) members from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in NFU’s Spring Legislative Fly-In during the week of April 16.
Members will meet with the offices of more than 150 members of Congress and their staffs to discuss priorities for the 2012 farm bill, including the implementation of a Market-Driven Inventory System (MDIS), which is designed to help during a long-term market collapse. MDIS utilizes a system of farmer-owned commodity inventories, loan rates, and other policy tools to help moderate both extremely low and extremely high commodity prices.
For more on MDIS, see here. 
“The most valuable thing that our members can do is talk to their members of Congress to share their stories and describe the challenges they face on a daily basis,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “With the farm bill being written this year, this is an important opportunity for family farmers and ranchers to ensure their voices are heard. Congress must understand that a safety net needs to be designed and implemented that focuses on family farmers and provides assistance during difficult times, when markets collapse and when disaster strikes.”
In addition to the implementation of MDIS, members will advocate for strong energy and livestock programs, as well as completing a farm bill in 2012 rather than extending it into 2013.
“With agriculture programs facing tremendous budgetary pressure, it is critical that we come up with new ways to save money without sacrificing the safety net on which so many family farmers and ranchers rely,” said Johnson. “MDIS would accomplish this goal. A University of Tennessee study found that, had MDIS been in place from 1998 to 2010, federal spending on farm programs would have decreased by $95 billion while net farm income would have been virtually unchanged. Other parts of the farm bill, such as the energy and livestock titles, are vital for rural development and ensuring that family farmers and ranchers are able to participate in a fair and open marketplace. We need a farm bill that includes these programs, and we need to ensure that it is completed this year.”