Family farmers and ranchers are the best advocates for agriculture, and over the last four days, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has provided more than 500 members and delegates of the 114th Anniversary Convention with the advocacy tools they need to be better informed about topics important to farm policy and the industry.
“We came to Minneapolis from farms and ranches that operate thousands of acres to farms that operate less than half an acre. We have full-time farmers and part-time farmers as members. And yet, we all share a common bond because in many ways we face the exact same challenges. We all make NFU a much stronger organization,” said NFU President Roger Johnson during his State of the Farmers Union address.
Throughout the convention, several high-level officials highlighted the program, speaking about the opportunities and challenges facing American agriculture today. In addition to a special video message from President Barack Obama, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and General Wesley Clark gave keynote remarks. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D), U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), and U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) also addressed the convention.
Attendees also participated in industry tours and breakout panels discussions focused on farm safety, value-added grains and grassroots advocacy.
While education is a focus of the annual meeting, the “most important aspect is the policy adoption process” at the conclusion of the convention. Johnson explained, “It is the job of the delegates to decide on our policy positions for the coming year.”
In a unique grassroots process, 136 delegates from member states come together to review, line-by-line, the organization’s policies. In addition, the delegates adopted 10 special orders. The adopted orders place special emphasis on the issues of:
- Family Farming and Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL)
- Family Farming and Trade Policy
- Family Farming and Cotton
- Family Farming and the Current Farm Bill
- Family Farming and ARC-County Payments
- Family Farming and Animal Disease Protection and Research
- Family Farming and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)
- Family Farming and Future Farm Bills
- Family Farming and Leading the Way on Climate Change
- Resolution Establishing an NFU Dairy Price Committee & Campaign
Farmers Union delegates re-elected Donn Teske of Kansas as NFU Vice President. “Serving as vice president has been a true honor, and I’m pleased to continue to serve Farmers Union members in this role,” Teske announced to the crowd during his acceptance speech.
Johnson concluded, “At the end of the day, we are only as strong as our members, and I’m proud to say Farmers Union members are the best and brightest in the country. I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for our great grassroots organization and for agriculture.”
More from the convention, including audio of the speeches and the full text of the adopted policy manual, will be available at www.nfu.org.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.