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Farmers Union elects Roger Johnson president

Agriculture.com Staff 03/10/2009 @ 5:00am

North Dakota agriculture commissioner Roger Johnson was elected president of National Farmers Union at the group's annual meeting in Washington, DC, Tuesday.

Johnson, who lobbied on the farm bill when he was president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture from 2007 to 2008, told reporters that he and his wife will relocate to Washington sometime in the next few weeks after he finishes up important projects in his home state.

He told Farmers Union members after being elected that he had not sought the job but was excited about the opportunity to represent family farm interests as NFU president.

"This organization is in my judgment the leading voice that will be heard on Capitol Hill," on agricultural issues and other issues affecting rural America, he said.

Johnson starts the lobbying facet of his job immediately by joining other Farmers Union members Wednesday to tell members of Congress about the importance of speedy implementation of the farm bill passed last year, fair trade, and improved health care for rural communities.

When asked what he considered the top issue for agriculture, Johnson said it's "this economy and the fact that it's collapsing not only in this country but around the world. It's an issue we’re going to be dealing with."

"Farm policy should be focused on that very thing -- helping folks survive in very difficult economic times," he added.

One of the issues Farmers Union will emphasize is the need for adequate funding direct and guaranteed loans in USDA's budget next year, he said.

Johnson said that as a Midwesterner, he's bothered by the size of increased government spending, even though he understands the need to stimulate the economy with deficit spending right now.

"We must also be cognizant of the fact that at some point we’re going to have to pay these bills off," he said.

Johnson succeeds Farmers Union president Tom Buis, who has taken a new job as CEO of Growth Energy, a group lobbying for the ethanol industry.

North Dakota agriculture commissioner Roger Johnson was elected president of National Farmers Union at the group's annual meeting in Washington, DC, Tuesday.

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