Washington, DC—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today expressed its strong support for legislation—introduced by Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)—to help defined benefit pension plans meet their obligations to current and future retirees in an economically sustainable manner.
The Pomeroy-Tiberi bill would help companies—including farmer cooperatives—that sponsor pension plans whose contributions have skyrocketed due to the steep decline in the economy and financial markets. The bill would give plan sponsors additional time to meet funding benchmarks.
“Farmer cooperatives are not asking for a reduction in their pension funding obligations; they are simply asking for additional time to ensure that their current business operations are not adversely impacted by the need to make additional contributions to their plans,” said NCFC President Charles F. Conner. “Without the additional time granted by the bill, farmer cooperatives and other businesses would have to take a number of drastic steps, such as reducing payrolls, cancelling capital investments, or cutting back on benefits, that would further hamper an economic recovery.”
Conner said that an informal survey of NCFC’s membership showed that the year-over-year pension contribution for many plans would double in 2010.
“The introduction of this bill is a positive first step in addressing the looming crisis with this country’s pension plans. As this process moves forward, we will work with Congress to further refine the legislation to meet the needs of all farmer cooperatives. NCFC would like to recognize the hard work of Representative Pomeroy and Representative Tiberi in drafting this legislation. We look forward to working with them to ensure swift consideration and passage of pension funding relief this year,” Conner concluded.
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are over 2,500 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process and market agricultural commodities and related products, furnish farm supplies, and provide credit and related financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 300,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.
Additional information about NCFC can be found at www.ncfc.org.