The New England Farmers Union (NEFU) was founded in 2006 as a chapter member of the National Farmers Union, an agricultural advocacy organization founded in 1906. With headquarters in Turners Falls, MA, it is a membership organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, fishermen, nurserymen and their customers through educational opportunities, co-operative endeavors and civic engagement. The members engage New England elected officials and public agencies to implement and enforce laws and regulations that will strengthen and support New England agriculture and fisheries. Regional legislators look to NEFU for advice and counsel when deciding on how to vote on issues pertaining to the Union’s mission.
Among the important issues that the Union has taken a prominent role in defending and monitoring is the dairy industry. New England dairies are small compared to those in many other parts of the country and thus face challenges that are unique to the region. NEFU works with lawmakers to ensure that the regions dairy farmers have a voice in shaping policies that affect milk prices and regulations.
Within the structure of the NEFU there exists the New England Farmers Union Educational Foundation (NEFU EF). Working hand in glove with the parent organization the foundation is designed to create and promote educational resources to advance the viability of the regions producers. Working with these other agencies NEFU EF is assessing the need for cooperative services in New England and developing tools that will support cooperative businesses across the food chain.
Cooperative education is another area to which the NEFU EF is committed. Each year it sends up to five members to the National Farmers Union’s College Conference on co-operatives who are responsible for bringing back information and skills that will foster the cooperative business model here. The CHS Foundation and the NFU fund this program.
The work of the NEFU is still in its early adolescence and yet has done much to fulfill its stated mission. As is the case with any young organization more is usually better providing the right people are in place. For those readers who want more information visit the Unions web site at www.newenglandfarmersunion.org