Founded as the Farmers Educational Cooperative Union of America in Point, Texas, to help the family farmer address profitability issues and monopolistic practices, National Farmers Union has been working to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.
About National Farmers Union
NFU represents farmers and ranchers in all states, with organized divisions in 33 states. The key to the success and credibility of the organization has been Farmers Union’s grassroots structure in which policy positions are initiated locally. The policy process includes the presentation of resolutions by individuals, followed by possible adoption of the resolutions at the local, state and national levels. Members and staff of the Farmers Union advocate these policy positions nationwide.
National Farmers Union believes that good opportunities in production agriculture are the foundation of strong farm and ranch families, and strong farm and ranch families are the basis for thriving rural communities.
1902: NFU is founded in Point, TX by grassroots farmers concerned with stability and farm income.
National Farmers Union History Timeline
1906: NFU urged establishment of parcel post system.
1911: NFU pushes for direct election of U.S. senators.
1916: Demanded program of low-interest, long-term credit, resulting in the enactment of the Federal Farm Loan Act establishing 12 Federal Land Banks and advocated voting rights for women.
1921: Successfully lobbied for adoption of Packers and Stockyards Act.
1922: Supported Capper-Volstead Act.
1926: Farmers Union Terminal Association began operating.
1927: Launched Farmers Union Central Exchange (now CHS) as a subsidiary of Farmers Union Terminal Association.
1930: Established national Farmers Union youth education program.
1933: Advocated incorporation of farmer-elected committees to administer farm programs.
1935: Played a key role in operation of Rural Electric Association resources as Cooperatives.
1936: Became chief architect and promoter of the Commodity Exchange Act.
1943: Proposed school lunch programs be made permanent.
1945: Founding member of Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE). Farmers Union is one of the non-governmental organizations that supports and sponsors the United Nations.
1954: Succeeded in passage of school milk legislation by Congress and sought refund of federal gas tax on agricultural non-highway uses.
1966: Waged war on poverty by instituting the Green Thumb program (now Experience Works) which still today places low-income, older workers in jobs.
1971: Blocked efforts to eliminate USDA as a cabinet-level agency.
1974: Included in newly formed World Hunger Action Council and promoted development of rural health co-ops.
1976: Won authorization for Small Business Administration to make loans to farmers.
1978: Achieved adoption of legislation requiring foreign owners to disclose U.S. farmland holdings. Backed creation of National Consumer Co-op Bank.
1979: Carried out massive “Save our Co-op” campaign.
1980: Won lobbying effort to impose capital gains taxation of foreign investors holding U.S. farmland.
1982: Succeeded in having part of the military budget shifted to humanitarian food aid using surplus U.S. commodities.
1983: Worked to protect family dairy farmers by helping to develop dairy legislation to reduce excessive milk production and secured passage of emergency farm credit legislation to defer FHA loans to help keep farmers in business.
1984: Achieved court ruling requiring the Farmers Home Administration to disclose options to troubled borrowers.
1985: Pressured the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to slap the hands of four large chemical companies that were promoting bovine growth hormone (BGH) without FDA approval.
1990: Promoted regulations to set national standards for organically-produced foods.
1991: Influenced Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act.
1993: Raised awareness of problems associated with international trade agreements.
1995: Fought for price-oriented farm bill and against disassociation farm programs and price.
1996: Succeeded in adoption of legislation to allow farmers and ranchers to increase income tax deductibility of health insurance premiums to 80 percent.
1996: Brought agricultural concentration to the forefront of legislative agendas.
1997: Launched the “Change the Cheese Exchange” campaign which effectively took the National Cheese Exchange out of the Basic Formula Price.
1998: Conducted a nationwide marketing flexibility campaign aimed at removing the caps placed on loan rates and were successful in securing $7 billion in farm relief.
1999: Held “Rural Unity Day” events in Farmers Union states to bring together farm groups, business owners, bankers, church groups and Congressional delegations to heighten awareness of the farm crisis and its impact on all segments of the community. “Put the Unity Back in Community” events were successful as Congress delivered $8.7 billion in farm relief.
2000: Farmers Union organized the largest farm rally on the U.S. Capitol Mall in two decades. The rally included a broad group of nearly 40 organizations concerned that the nation’s farm program has failed to provide economic stability and opportunity to rural America. Participants urged Congress to rewrite and improve the “Freedom to Farm” program.
2001: Farmers Union was a major player in the debate on a new farm bill. Although we did not see new national farm policy, Farmers Union’s fingerprints were visible on much of the farm bill policy discussed. We made significant strides in many areas of our policy which came out of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposal such as, raising loan rates, updating yields, mandatory country-of-origin labeling for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and peanuts, contract grower protection and increased funding for conservation programs.
2002: Won country-of-origin labeling after years of advocacy. NFU spearheaded a coalition of 165 farm and consumer groups to advocate mandatory country-of-origin labeling, which was included in the 2002 Farm Bill.
2005: Led effort to push for the passage of a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The new RFS will mandate the use of 8 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by 2012. Supported legislation to provide tax credits for the construction of E-85 fueling stations. Launched “e-cooperatives.com” as part of an initiative called “Growing Farm Business on the Internet.”
2006: Joined the Alliance for a Biobased Economy to encourage the federal government to purchase biobased products when available and joined the 25×25 Energy Coalition to advance the goal of deriving 25 percent of America’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025.
2007: Held listening sessions throughout the country to hear producers’ concerns regarding the new farm bill and presented findings from those sessions to Congress.
2007: Successfully led a coalition of organizations to secure $3 billion in emergency disaster relief for 2005, 2006 and 2007 weather-related losses.
2007: Served as lead negotiator for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) supporters in negotiating a deal to include COOL in the 2008 Farm Bill.
2007: Successfully urged Congress to extend the Milk Income Loss Compensation (MILC) Program to expire in tandem with other 2002 Farm Bill programs.
2008: Led a broad coalition of more than 1,000 organizations calling on Congress to pass the new farm bill. Final bill included many of NFU’s farm bill priorities.
2008: Successfully supported expansion of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and worked to establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Successfully urged Congress to extend and expand renewable energy tax credits.
2013: Led a broad coalition calling on Congress to pass the new farm bill. Final bill included many of NFU’s farm bill priorities.