The 112th National Farmers Union convention will be held March 8-11 in Santa Fe, NM. Kansas Farmers Union members are encouraged to attend, as it will be a wonderful opportunity to meet and reconnect with National Farmers Union members from across the nation, observe the organization’s grassroots policy formation, and enjoy historic Santa Fe.

KFU members, convention delegates, and staff plan on leaving Friday, March 7 from numerous Amtrak stations in Kansas to travel to Santa Fe. Please go to www.amtrak.com to find your closest departure site in Kansas. It will be an early morning for most of us as the train leaves Lawrence at 11:52 PM, Topeka at 12:30 AM, Newton at 2:45 AM, Hutchinson at 3:20 AM, Dodge City at 5:25 AM, and Garden City at 6:21 AM. The Southwest Chief Amtrak train stops at Lamy, NM, and following a short bus ride, we should arrive in Santa Fe at around 4:00 PM.

We will return to Kansas Wed., March 12. The bus will leave Santa Fe at 12:25 PM and the train leaves Lamy at 1:17 PM. Please keep in mind that all times are subject to change with little or no notice. Ticket prices vary depending on the departure location in the state with price ranges from $85 at Garden City to $122 at Lawrence. Prices need to be doubled for round trip travel. These are “Value” seats, adding “Flexible” or “Premium” adds another $100-160. A sleeping car will also cost extra.  Please join us for what’s sure to be a wonderful trip with fellow KFU members. Contact KFU office manager Callie Kramer if you have any questions regarding travel arrangements.

According to the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau website, www.santafe.org, the city embodies a rich history, melding Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American cultures whose influences are apparent in everything from the architecture to the food and art. Santa Fe has long been a center for arts and culture and ranks as the country’s third largest art market where there are nearly 300 galleries and dealers to explore.

Santa Fe has the third largest State Museum system in the country featuring culture, history, and traditions of the region and the world. Santa Fe also has more than 200 restaurant choices ranging from local New Mexican flavors to creative Southwestern cuisine to authentic world cuisines.

Convention begins Saturday, March 8 with a welcome reception and convention banquet featuring a “Year in Review” slideshow and a formal welcome from Rocky Mountain Farmers Union president, Kent Peppler. Retiring NFU vice-president Claudia Svarstad will give the Vice-President’s Update, and NFU president Roger Johnson will give the State of the Farmers Union Address, followed by the presentation of NFU’s Meritorious Service Award.

A prayer service will take place Sunday morning, followed by the official call to order of the 112th annual convention. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been invited to speak to the delegation that morning. The last time Sec. Vilsack addressed our convention was in 2012 in Omaha, NE. Membership award presentations will take place after Sec. Vilsack’s speech, and then the group will depart for area tours or an afternoon on your own.

While at convention, be sure to stop by the Family Farm Advocacy Network, International Year of Family Farming, and sponsor booths at the tradeshow.

On Monday, March 10, several award presentations will take place, including the Meritorious Service Award presentations and Silver and Blue Star Award presentations. National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) presentations will also take place throughout convention. The election of NFU President and Vice-President takes place Monday morning, followed by breakout sessions through the afternoon. Election results will be announced later in the day. Our own KFU President Donn Teske has filed to run for Vice-President, and you can read more about it in his President’s Report in this issue of the Kansas Kontact.

Later in the day, President Johnson will moderate a speaker panel featuring Rocky Mountain State Agriculture Commissioners Colorado Ag Commissioner John Salazar, New Mexico Director/Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte, and Wyoming Director of Agriculture Jason Fearneyhough.

“An Evening for Education: NFU Foundation’s Gala Event” will be held Monday evening. In years past, the evening featured a banquet meal, entertainment, and a live auction showcasing wonderful items donated by NFU members from around the U.S. A ticket is required for attendance, and can be purchased during registration.

On Tuesday, March 11, Leadership Achievement Award presentations take place, and an invitation to the 2015 Convention in Wichita will be given by Kansas President Donn Teske. Kansas is honored to be hosting the 2015 convention, and we look forward to working with NFU staff to coordinate plans for a great convention next year.
The 2014 convention rounds out with consideration and adoption of policy that will guide our organization through the coming year. NFU convention delegates elected from Kansas are: Mary Fund, Goff; Herb and Pat Bartel, Hillsboro; Chris and Sherrie Schmidt, Oberlin; John Rempe, Corning; and Jason Schmidt, Newton. Alternates are Tom Giessel, Larned and Tim Olmstead, Frankfort.