By Leigh Slayden, Vice President – Membership

Approximately two dozen people gathered for the Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) workshop at the 2013 Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference early morning session Feb. 7 . A few longtime members joined new voices to talk about issues that they have been facing. Chris Torres of “Lancaster Farming” newspaper joined the group, as did rural legislative agency members interested in hearing from Farmers Union again.

PASA members will be offered PFU membership at a special rate, a move that longtime members support. This enables members of PASA, a 501(c) 3, to find their collective voice in the state.

Farmers are still interested in health insurance, which once was offered in Pennsylvania. With the Affordable Care Act in place, PFU is exploring how to inform farmers of their insurance rights and channel optimal coverage rates. Opportunities for savings are available through Stillwell Agency now to meet member needs.

However, longtime members asserted that the greatest benefit truly is advocacy.

Interim Director Hannah Smith-Brubaker recounted the early history of PFU, arising from dairy farmers facing many of the same challenges of today.

Many in the room are concerned about language in the food safety act now open for comment.

“Do you want to get radical with me?” asks Hannah. It takes action to be effective.

PFU President Kim Miller assured the group that Pennsylvania’s Farmers Union is a grassroots organization with a volunteer board. With support from the national office and member growth, a strong voice for Pennsylvania farmers is emerging anew.

Director Smith-Brubaker invites additional comments and issue priorities to be added to the PFU website, pafarmersunion,org.

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