Hi,

I have filed for the National Farmers Union position of Vice President being vacated by Claudia Svarstad after serving so well for these past years.

The election will be this coming March in Santa Fe at our National Farmers Union convention and elected on by the FU voting delegates of the nation. There are two positions voted on by NFU delegates, President and Vice President, and are two-year terms. The other positions are elected by the NFU board of directors. As you may, or may not, know I have served for the past four years as National Farmers Union Treasurer, not exactly news-worthy but a position I have taken very seriously and done to the best of my ability, thus I was elected by the NFU board.

Roger is running unopposed for president. With Claudia stepping away from the office of Vice President there are three candidates that have filed for the position of NFU VP before the 60 day deadline, Darin Von Ruden; President of Wisconsin Farmers Union, Roger Noonan; President of New England Farmers Union, and myself.
Both Darin and Roger are good friends (at least they used to be) and I feel that German/Lutheran resistance to self-promotion coming into play so it’s going to be hard to campaign against them. They are both top-notch men and I’m envious of them both. Roger is young and aggressive and intelligent. Darin drives me nuts. This guy has kids as old as mine but with his good looks and young appearance he gets carded when we walk into a bar together. I bet people think he’s my kid….

So why am I running? National Farmers Union has a tremendously lot going on right now. I have been around long enough to at least have a fundamental understanding of the intricacies of running a national farm organization, including the relationship with the insurance industry we so largely depend on for our operating revenue. My opponents do not. I work well with Roger and think we can make a good team. I know the finances and financial operations of National Farmers Union as well as anyone else in the nation. I have a good working relationship with just about everyone on the NFU board.

Filling the role of National Farmers Union Vice President will be VERY challenging and difficult. Claudia was formerly the president of NFUIC insurance and her predecessor, Alan Bergman, previously led the North Dakota Farmers Union and their giant insurances. Their knowledge of the insurance industry has always been mind-boggling to me and I am in no way insinuating that I can compare with that historical knowledge. I’m a distant fleck of dust compared to either of them. But I know more about it than either of my competitors for this position.

What does this mean for Kansas Farmers Union? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. Previous vice presidents have served either on a part-time basis or full time. If elected and the position evolves into a part-time position then things can pretty well go on the way it has if the KFU board wishes, with part of my salary being picked up by NFU and I delegating more responsibilities to staff. If it becomes a full-time position, which it really should be, then Kansas Farmers Union will need to elect a new president.

Winning the election will be very difficult for me. I have been around too long and I have a tendency to do what I believe is right regardless of pressure politics. I have too many skeletons, too many vices, and have burned too many bridges in the past to have a very realistic chance to win. But I’m going to give it my best shot.