The NFU Beginning Farmer Forum is a community of farmers, ranchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public that share common knowledge and interest in helping beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the challenges to starting and sustaining a farming operation in the U.S. This community hopes to spread awareness about these challenges, provide insight into how they can be addressed at local, state and national policy levels, and share current resources and tools that benefit. NFU has always worked to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, fishers, ranchers and rural communities through the advocacy of policy positions developed by the grassroots membership and adopted as official policy at our national convention. National Farmers Union helps the family farmer address profitability issues and monopolistic practices.
NFU was founded by ten local farmers in 1902 as the Farmers Educational Cooperative Union of America in Point, Texas. After its founding, NFU advocated for increased co-operative rights, fair market access for farmers, direct election of senators and voting rights for women. These efforts also led to the enactment of the Federal Farm Loan Act, which established twelve Federal Land Banks.
In 1931 the organization established the Farmers Union Central Exchange, which would later become Cenex Harvest States. During the 1940s, NFU campaigned to make school lunches permanent, and was a founding member of Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE). In 1966, NFU worked to fight poverty by founding Green Thumb (now known as Experience Works), which secures employment for low-income and older workers. During the 1970s, NFU was influential in the development of rural health systems, and was also included as part of the World Hunger Action Council. In 1980, the organization advocated for the implementation of a capital gains tax on foreigner owners of US farmland.
In 1982, NFU was influential in getting a portion of the military budget shifted to humanitarian food aid using commodity surpluses from the US. In 1990, the organization pushed for increased regulation of organics, including the creation of a national standard for what production practices qualify as organic. In 2002, NFU was one of the leaders of a coalition of 165 farm and consumer groups that helped establish mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
NFU represents family farmers, fishers and ranchers across the country, with formally 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. Vibrant rural communities, in turn, are vital to the health, security and economic well-being of our entire national economy.
The triangle represents Farmers Union’s core principles. The base of the triangle represents education. Education of members and others is considered the foundation of Farmers Union’s success in all areas of the organization. The sides of the triangle represent cooperation and legislation. The cooperation side of the triangle represents members working together to achieve common goals and Farmers Union’s commitment to cooperative education and cooperative business development. The legislation side of the triangle represents Farmers Union’s lobbying efforts in the legislative arena.
Our insignia is the plow, rake and hoe. The plow, rake and hoe are tools used by farmers. Although in America we consider these to be historical tools, the plow, rake and hoe are still used daily by farmers in other parts of the world.
The Live Oak tree is our emblem. The live oak tree is predominantly found in the South where Farmers Union originally grew. It is significant to note that our forefathers selected the live oak tree as our emblem because it is always alive like they hoped Farmers Union would be! Live oak trees do not lose all their leaves in the winter and their leaves stay green. Older leaves are dark green and new leaves are a bright lime or spring green. There is further symbolism in our emblem according to our history books which tell us that the trunk of the tree represents National Farmers Union; the branches represent regional, state, district, county and local Farmers Union organizations; and the leaves on the tree represent members.
To advocate for the economic and social well-being, and quality of life of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and consumers and their communities through education, cooperation and legislation. NFU advocates sustainable production of food, fiber, feed and fuel.
NFU will continue to be the respected, influential and independent national voice and coalition leader that bridges family producers and consumers on behalf of a vibrant and growing grassroots membership.