Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) has received the National Farmers Union's (NFU) highest legislative honor, the Golden Triangle Award. The recognition is given to members of Congress who demonstrate leadership and support policies that benefit America's family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities.
"Congressman Langevin has been a strong advocate for family farmers and fishermen in Rhode Island," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "We are pleased to honor him as a true ally of our organization and our members across the country."
The Golden Triangle Award is based on NFU's symbol -- a triangle with "legislation" and "cooperation" forming the sides and "education" the base. The Golden Triangle Awards have been presented every year since 1988.
"We must recognize that the success of our farmers and fishermen is integral, not only to having a safe and healthy food supply, but also to boosting our economy," said Langevin. "The agricultural and fishing industries are particularly important in Rhode Island and their members need to know that their elected officials understand the importance of the work they do."
"I'm also pleased with this week's announcement that the Department of Commerce, in response to requests from the state and our Congressional delegation, has issued a disaster declaration for Rhode Island's groundfish fishery. We need to address the extremely difficult circumstances facing our state's fishermen and give them a fair opportunity to succeed."
With the current federal Farm Bill, which sets national farm and food policy every five years, set to expire at the end of this month, Langevin has pushed for systemic changes that give Rhode Island farmers a fair shot to compete with larger farms. The House version, passed by the Agriculture Committee, includes key portions of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which Langevin cosponsored to better ensure adequate support for the specialty crops and local and regional farms that predominate in Rhode Island. One provision benefits Farm-to-School programs by allowing schools to spend their federal commodity funding to buy food from local farmers. Unfortunately, House Republican leadership has refused to bring the bill to the floor, even with the September 30 deadline looming and despite the Senate having already passed its own version.
"The bill we have now is not perfect, and I am particularly concerned about the inclusion of major cuts to food stamps, a vital program for struggling families that is also proven to boost the economy," said Langevin. "However, the Republican leadership's willingness to simply let support for our farmers expire because they don't want to deal with a major issue before the election is deplorable. Our farmers work tirelessly to provide for this country, and we can't let politics get in the way of their ability to do their jobs."
Among other parts of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act it incorporates, the committee-passed version of the House Farm Bill would:
Diversify crop insurance to benefit small farms by allowing farmers who grow a range of products to get insurance for their crops, just like large-scale commodity farmers now do;
Support organic crop insurance, which treats organic farmers more equitably and will give organic farmers a fair price for their food; and
Provide for value-added producer grants, which allow farmers to make investments that will increase the value of their products.
National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 in Point, Texas, to help the family farmer address profitability issues and monopolistic practices. NFU has been working since 1902 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. NFU now has membership in all 50 states.