The National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

The National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association was founded in August of 2004 in Washington, D.C as the National Association of Latino/Hispanic Farmers & Ranchers. This alliance of Latino advocacy groups evolved from a long soul searching ordeal & after working with many farmer and farm worker advocacy groups for several years.

The MISSION of the organization is to engage and empower Latino farmer advocacy groups throughout the United States and beyond to protect and promote sustainable farm policy issues for quality and safe food systems for the future.

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From the NLFRTA President's Desk

NLFRTA's president, Rudy Arredondo, will travel September 2-4, 2014 to Kansas City, MO to participate in workshop presentations by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in preparation for the 2017 Ag Census.

"NLFRTA will once again partner with NASS since our founding in 2005 and 2012 to insure that we gather the best and most complete Ag Census ever," Arredondo stated. "We want our members, partners and allies to join with us in support of NASS mission, as those numbers play a key role in the allocation of USDA and other federal government program resources not just for Latino farmers and ranchers, but for our rural communities as well.

"We have a responsibility to make sure we receive our fair share of USDA program resources. That is a most compelling reason to support NASS to make sure we do outreach to our respective communities and encourage and help to fill out the NASS Ag Census survey forms," Arredondo concluded.

USDA Week In Review Ep 41 August 29

Urgent Action Needed

Don't Miss Out on Feeding Hungry Children in Your Community!

Local Education Agencies have until August 31, 2014 to submit applications to elect the Community Eligibility Provision for the 2014-2015 school year.

What is Community Eligibility? 

Community Eligibility permits qualified schools to provide free meal service to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status, while reducing burden at the household and local levels by eliminating the need to obtain eligibility through family filled out eligibility forms.

  A school is eligible for Community Eligibility if at least 40 percent of its students are "directly certified," i.e., identified for free meals through means other than household applications (for example, students directly certified through SNAP). The Community Eligibility provision eliminates the stigma and complications behind enrolling in free and reduced lunch programs.

 Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, all schools nationwide that meet the 40 percent identified student threshold will be eligible to participate in this option.  Nationwide applications are due August 31, 2014!

 Reach out to your schools and Local Education Agencies today and ask about Community Eligibilty! Let's not let any children go hungry this year!

 More information:

 General Information from USDA: http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/community-eligibility-provision

 How to Get Started: http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program/community-eligibility/

 Community Eligibility Provision Status of School Districts and Schools by State: http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/state-information-community-eligibility-provision

 Please contact Tahirah Cook (tahirah@ruralco.org) or Lorette Picciano (lpicciano@ruralco.org) and the Rural Coalition with anymore questions.

 

Tell the EPA: Protect farmworkers from toxic pesticides

It’s staggering: More than 1 billion pounds of dangerous pesticides are used in the production of agricultural crops in the U.S. annually,1 poisoning up to 20,000 farmworkers each year.2

Right now the Environmental Protection Agency is deciding whether to update rules that protect farmworkers from harmful pesticide exposure -- and a critical comment period closes in less than a week.

We know that big corporate agribusiness will be piling on the pressure from the other side. We need to fight back and provide a strong showing of grassroots support for protecting farmworkers from dangerous pesticides.

Tell the EPA: Protect farmworkers from cancer-causing pesticides. Submit a public comment now.

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Sign Stop Fast Track Sign-on Letter to Senator Wyden‏

Please join the NLFRTA, Rural Coalition, AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and others in signing the the letter to Senator Wyden pasted below, which reiterates opposition to Fast Track and calls for its replacement with a new system for negotiating and implementing trade agreements that provides for real congressional and public accountability.


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Sign On Letter to USDA Support Funding Increase for 2501 Outreach & Advocacy‏‏

Dear Friends and allies of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association Please sign up your organizationon to support this important letter generated by the Rural Coalition leadership for action on the Hill regarding critical funding by USDA.

 



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HAPPENING NOW

NYT Farmer Headline Doesn’t Anger Latino Farmers

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

I was amused last week with the reaction to a headline on a New York Times article about how many Latino farmers have transitioned from farm work to farm ownership. The headline read “Latinos Move Up, From Picking Crops to Running the Farm (The NYT has since changed the wording).”

There was an instant negative reaction online.

Twitter was ablaze with comments: “this is kind of racist.” “because we ALL start picking crops right? SMH. Another racist headline to add to the collection.” “Oh, NYT that is really awful.”

I had a hard time wrapping my thinking around the negative reaction. I didn’t think the headline was a problem, but I had deep concerns with the story itself. It was predictable and formulaic: information couched in personal stories and the obligatory immigration reference. And because it was predictable it missed the stories about Latino farmers in the U.S. that I think should have been reported.

Three months ago I received an email from Rudy Arredondo, President and CEO of the National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association, telling me about the final results of the USDA 2012 Ag Census. The numbers had been released just days before. All of the statistics mentioned in the NYT piece came directly from the Ad Census. Yes, there’s been a 21 percent increase in Latino farm ownership since 2007, and yes, those new farm owners were once farm workers.

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Latinos Move Up, From Picking Crops to Running the Farm

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — When he was 15, an immigration raid at a Japanese flower nursery turned Arturo Flores’s life around.

The owners needed a new group of workers to replace the ones removed by immigration officials, and Mr. Flores landed a job cutting flowers. He slowly worked his way up to packaging and delivering them. In the mid-1980s he got a call from two businessmen looking to start their own cut-flower business. They asked him to manage deliveries and distribution. Today Mr. Flores, 50, is the president of Central California Flower Growers in Watsonville, a distributor in Santa Cruz County that sells more than 100 varieties of flowers and other plants

Farming businesses in the United States are still dominated by whites, but Mr. Flores (whose last name means “flowers” in English) is one of a growing number of Latinos who own or operate farms in the country. While the overall number of farms in the United States decreased by 4 percent from 2007 to 2012, during the same period the number of farms run by Hispanics increased by 21 percent to 67,000 from 55,570, according to data released in May from the government’s 2012 census of agriculture. The numbers signaled a small but consistent pattern of growth in agribusiness among Latinos, many of whom have gone from working in the fields to sitting in the head offices.

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California Drought Leaves Farmworkers Hung Out to Dry

The crops being harvested in California this summer are smaller than usual thanks to the record-setting drought that has reached the most extreme levels in more than half of the state. While that may be good news to the consumers and chefs who enjoy the more concentrated flavor of smaller fruits and vegetables, it’s another blow to California’s hundreds of thousands of farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, that are struggling to survive in this third-straight year of drought.

“When the growers use a lot of water, the oranges are bigger,” says Antonio Cortes, an organizer for the United Farm Workers, a union representing farmworkers in California. “With less water, the oranges are smaller, and you have to work longer [to fill a bucket].” Most of the workers Cortes represents in the Central Valley are paid a piece rate for buckets of oranges, tomatoes, melons and other crops.

Dr. Ann López, the Executive Director of the Center for Farmworker Families in Felton, California, hears similar complaints from the strawberry pickers she works with in nearby Santa Cruz County. “The fruit is very small. It’s not the same size it’s been in the past, and there’s not as much fruit,” she says. “To fill baskets, it takes more work—but they’re not getting paid more.”

Indeed, López believes wages have fallen this year for some farmworkers. “In the past, they would get $5 per hour and $1 to $1.60 per case. Now that’s gone out the window,” she says, and employers are only paying workers the piece rate.

Farmworkers in California earn an average hourly wage of $9.22 and annual income of $19,180, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most farmworkers are immigrants (principally from Mexico) and many are undocumented. According to López, the average life expectancy for a farmworker is just 49 years.

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Past Happenings

White House Rural Council Announces $10 Billion Private Investment Fund to Projects in Rural America

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WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 - The White House Rural Council today announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.

CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new


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Letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding California Drought



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Dear Secretary Vilsack:

As the impact of the severe drought in California widens, we are grateful to you to call attention and action to the crisis by traveling to Fresno tomorrow.

We continue working with National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. (NHAF) to support their emergency efforts to reach and assist the Hmong and other diverse producers in the region who face this sudden and growing loss of their crops and their livelihoods. 

Our Board member, Chukou Thao of NHAF, has already been working with state and local USDA officials and other agencies on a solution oriented approach to the emergency.  We have attached the fact sheet assembled from a recent



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Legislative News

Congress on Recess


Senate Floor Schedule
Senate on Recess

 

House Floor Schedule
House on Recess

 


HAGSTROM REPORT HEADLINES August 29, 2014

Bertram named chief scientist at USAID’s Bureau of Food Security

August 27, 2014 | U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah has named Rob Bertram as the chief scientist and strategic officer in the Bureau of Food Security, which manages the Feed the Future program. …


Smith, EPA spar over water maps

August 27, 2014 | House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, today posted maps from the Environmental Protection Agency that he said detail the impact of the Waters of the United States proposal, as well as a letter he wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy saying that they paint an “astonishing picture.” …

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AGREE NEWS FEED
HEADLINES August 23, 2014

8.22.2014 What Could Obama Do? -- AgWeb

8.22.2014 States Struggling to Control Fraud in Federal Food Stamp Program -- The Blaze

8.22.2014 Few Differences in Milk and Health of Organic, Regular Cows -- Agri-Pulse

8.22.2014 MISSISSIPPI RIVER: In Rare Collaboration, Stakeholders Sketch out Battle Plan on Nutrient Reduction -- Greenwire

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NLFRTA In The News

Beef Checkoff battle drags on and on

The three-year attempt to make recommendations to Congress to revamp the Beef Checkoff program may be in trouble.

Recently, the 11 groups that make up the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group apparently came up with a set of recommendations some members view as a last attempt at consensus.

R-CALF USA, which is not a member of the group, issued a warning that other farm groups plan to agree by next Friday to a proposal it considers “smoke and mirrors,” while some participants in the group said no agreement would be announced until this fall or winter, if ever.

In addition, Chandler Keys, a former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association vice president who now represents JBS, the Brazilian-based meat company and other clients, wrote on July 29 that there are so many problems associated with the national checkoff that producers should abandon it in favor of state checkoffs. See link.

The working group was established in response to a proposal to raise the beef checkoff, from $1 per head each and every time an animal is sold to $2 per head, and complaints that the checkoff was benefiting the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which has been close to the management of the checkoff dollars.

The group is supposed to make recommendations to Congress, since congressional action is the only way to make major changes to the program under the 1985 law that established it as a way for producers to engage in research and promotion efforts. Congressional farm leaders have told the group that it would be impossible to make changes without a broad consensus.

 

ArredondoRudy

Rudy Arredando

Rudy Arredondo of the National Latin Farmers & Ranchers Association said his group is against the proposal.

“The obvious lack of imbalance in this process excludes the small and independent beef producers and is terribly unfair,” Arredondo said. ”We are opposed and need a robust representation in any and all deliberations impacting on this industry.”

Meanwhile, at a conference in Denver last week, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board released a study it commissioned from Harry Kaiser of Cornell University. The study concluded each dollar invested in the Beef Checkoff Program between 2006 and 2013 returned about $11.20 in investment to the beef industry.

The decline in the number of beef cattle has reduced the checkoff income, and during its meeting, the Beef Board unanimously approved a $40.2 million budget for fiscal year 2015, down 2.6 percent from $41.3 million in 2014, which itself was down 4.2 percent from 2013, the board said in a news release.

Of that $40.2 million for fiscal year 2015, about $37.5 million will be available for funding of the contractor proposals that make the operating committee's final cut in September. The remainder of the budget covers other checkoff expenses, including evaluation, program development, USDA oversight, and program administration.

Something New Under The Sun: Latino-Owned Farms In U.S. Growing At A Healthy Pace

By Soni Sangha/ Fox News Latino

The number of Hispanic-owned farms is rapidly increasing in the United States, and it's thanks in part to the fact that about 15 years ago minority farmers successfully sued the U.S. government for discriminating against them.

Since that lawsuit, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stepped up their outreach to minority farmers (a group referred to using the unironic, bureaucratic-speak term, “socially disadvantaged farmers”) which has been a small contributor to the growth. But activists and plaintiffs charge that the changes may seem monumental but still leave minorities out of key opportunities. “We’ve made forward progress but we still have a ways to go,” explained Lorette Picciano, director of Rural Coalition, an organization that represents small farmers and producers in the U.S. and Mexico. Latinos are the largest minority segment among farm owners with the greatest concentrations living in Texas, New Mexico and California. They are have become key providers of certain produce. For example, they own two-thirds of the strawberry farms in California. Though Latinos only own a little more than three percent of all the farms in the U.S., there has been a 21 percent increase in ownership in the last 5 years, according to the Census of Agriculture. That increase is double that of other groups, and it counters the overall decrease in farm ownership in the country.

Most of the Latino-owned farms are small or mid-sized. That kind of farm presents challenges because it doesn’t always bring in enough money to support families. Spouses and relatives have other jobs to supplement family income.

Because of the investment required to begin a farm and the delay in income in the start up phase, access to loans and credit are critical. The discrimination lawsuit in the 1990s was about minorities being denied access to capital.

Alfonzo Abeyta’s family has been farming in Colorado for five generations. They bought their land in 1963 from a retiring Anglo farmer. Currently, the average farmer is older than about 65, so the USDA has launched recruitment efforts to bring in younger people.

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