USDA Sec. Vilsack, EPA Administrator McCarthy, animal behavior specialist Temple Grandin, & National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson featured speakers

For the first time since 1946, Kansas is hosting National Farmers Union’s annual convention, under the theme “Driving the Future of Agriculture,” which will be held Saturday, March 14 through Tuesday, March 17 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita.

NFU Vice President and Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske noted, “What makes me proud is the truly grassroots policy development that the annual national event revolves around. This is where state Farmers Union chapter delegates – selected to represent their own state policy – negotiate, debate, and develop the NFU policy.”

Teske goes on to say, “Policy approved at the national convention dictates what our organization stands for and provides the marching orders for NFU staff and leadership as they represent our organization.”

Keynote speakers include USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who will address the crowd on pertinent agricultural and environmental issues on Monday. Noted animal behavior specialist Temple Grandin will give the opening banquet address Saturday evening, and the film “Temple Grandin” will also be screened for members and guests throughout the convention.

Convention breakout topics include:

  • Safety on the Farm and Ranch – A session to learn how to keep you, your employees, and your family safe on the farm or ranch.
  • Are You Healthy? Are You Sure? – Felix Tarm, MD will help you learn what risk factors predict death and disability among adults that are easy to detect, but commonly ignored by patients and doctors alike.
  • Weather Patterns Today and Tomorrow – Dr. W. Chris King, renowned expert in analyzing world security issues caused by climate change, will lead a discussion on how human-induced changes to the Earths’ environment affects weather and the billions of people on the planet.
  • Farmers Union: Untold Stories – The Farmers Educational Cooperative Union of America was formed in 1902, and has many stories both told and untold. Bring your intrigue and questions, NFU Honorary Historian Tom Giessel may hold the answer.
  • Finding Farming – Seventy eight percent of nationally surveyed farmers did not grow up on a farm or ranch. Hear from a panel of beginning farmer producers who are “finding farming” for the first time.
  • Developing Perennial Grain Crops – The Land Institute is working to develop “natural systems agriculture,” developing perennial grain crops that can be planted together in fields, mimicking the natural prairie. Learn more about the Institute and their programs in this breakout from the Institute’s own Wes Jackson.

Additional convention highlights include a tour of the Pete Ferrell Ranch, home of the Elk River Wind Project – a 150-megawatt wind farm that opened in 2005, and a visit to Strataca, the Kansas underground salt museum – an underground adventure 650 feet below the Kansas prairie which is the only salt mine tour of its kind in North America.

Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer and Kansas native, will serve up a vast visual journey: the Neolithic dawn of agriculture, today’s world farmers working in relative anonymity, and the challenges of feeding an ever-more hungry planet through 2050 at NFU’s Foundation Gala on Sunday evening.

The general public is encouraged to attend. For more information, and to register for the convention, go to

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