“Harnessing the Power of Organization to Serve Family Farm Agriculture Since 1913” is the theme for the 106th annual Nebraska Farmers Union state convention Dec. 6-7.

This year’s convention is at the Divots Convention Center in Norfolk. The organization has opeted to move their annual conventions around the state to encourage more members to attend.

“We are excited to be in Norfolk for the first time in decades,” Farmers Union President John Hansen said.

Members will elect state president and directors from Districts 3 and 7. Hansen is running for re-election as president, and incumbent Mary Alice Corman is up in District 3. District 7 Director Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington is retiring, and Art Tanderup of Neligh has been nominated for the seat. Nominations for all state and district offices end noon Friday, Dec. 6.

In addition to electing officers, three delegates and alternates to the National Farmers Union convention will be elected Friday afternoon. Delegates will set state policy Saturday afternoon.

“Public policy is a competitive process. Farmers and ranchers are either organized to protect and further their economic and social interests, or they are unorganized, which means they are vulnerable,” Hansen said. “All services and benefits begin with being organized.”

Friday morning highlights include hearing from Craig Larson, retiring general manager of the Nebraska Rural Radio Association, and the new Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator Roger Berry, who will report on Nebraska’s case study on the use of 30% ethanol in non-flex fuel state vehicles.

Berry and National Farmers Union Senior Vice-President Rob Larew will discuss federal Renewable Fuels Standards and issues that are critical to corn utilization and expanded ethanol use. Larew will be the Saturday noon luncheon keynote speaker as he presents the organization’s year of legislative efforts and issues.

Friday’s noon luncheon will feature a welcome from Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning that highlights Norfolk’s efforts to become a “Green City.” The keynote speaker will be Martha Shulski, Nebraska state climatologist who will present “2019: A year like no other.”

Friday afternoon will feature:

— An update on the status of industrial hemp with David Bracht, attorney with Kutak Rock and state Sen. Tom Brandt.

— A report on ag spray drift issues with Brandt.

— Nebraska Rural Response Hotline staff presentation on the issues they face with Michele Soll and Joe Hawbaker and Nebraska Rural Response Council President Vern Jantzen.

— A preview of the 2019 Legislative session with state Sens. Jim Scheer, Tom Brandt, and Lynne Walz.

The Friday evening banquet keynote speakers will be National Farmers Union Historian Tom Giessel of Larned, Kansas and his daughter Kate Giessel who will focus on the critical need for organization.

Saturday morning program highlights include:

— Citizen Scientist Program Update on water quality testing from Julie Hinmarsh

- Implementing Regenerative Agriculture Practices to Improve Soil Health from Dan Gillespie, USDA NRCS no-tTill specialist.

— Update on LB243, the Healthy Soils Task Force from Sen. Tim Gragert.

— Understanding Nebraska’s Tax System and State Economic Incentives with Open Sky Policy Institute fiscal analyst Craig Beck.

— Straight Talk on Property Tax Relief and Economic Incentives with representatives from the Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education coalition: Jack Moles, executive director of the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association; Bruce Rieker, vice president of governmental relations with Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and Al Davis, board of director of Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska and Nebrsaka Farmers Union.

The Saturday noon keynote luncheon speaker will be Rob Larew, who will provide the government relations report and cover federal issues facing agriculture. Hansen will provide his wrap up remarks and his look ahead for the next year. Friday afternoon, delegates will finalize state policy for the next year.

Registration is $35 and begins at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday mornings. Convention begins at 9 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

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