ST. PAUL – National Farmers Union (NFU) will convene its 117th anniversary convention Sunday, March 3, in Bellevue, Wash. Forty-one Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members will make the trip for the event, which runs through March 5. More than 400 Farmers Union members from across the country are expected to attend in total.
Attendees will engage with industry experts, policymakers, thought leaders and fellow farmers on topics of vital importance to family farm agriculture. Top of mind for most attendees and speakers are the severely depressed farm economy, trade disruptions, extreme consolidation in the agricultural sector, climate change, soil health and the success of the next generation of family farmers. The information learned will provide context for the organization’s annual line-by-line policy review by Farmers Union delegates.
“Some farm issues vary from state to state, but what we have in common nationwide is that we’re dealing with a prolonged period of low farm income,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “It’s important for farmers to connect with each other so we can work together to set policy goals in Washington, D.C. We can raise our collective voice as National Farmers Union, working for fair prices for all family farmers.”
MFU will have ten delegates at the NFU Convention. They are Vicki Barnes of St. Paul; Rachel Brann of Milaca; Maria Fatz of Waubun; Linda Larson of Rosemount; Eric Monson of Eagle Bend; Peter Schwagerl of Browns Valley; Mary Sullivan of Franklin; Elaine Torpet of Fertile; Cindy VanDerPol of Kerkhoven; and Tim Velde of Granite Falls.
Representing MFU on the National Youth Advisory Council will be Jade Person of Oklee. Representing MFU on the NFU Policy Committee will be Steven Read of Nerstrand.
Andrea and Chris Koller of Le Sueur will attend as Minnesota’s Farmers Union Enterprises Leadership Couple.
Meg Moynihan, a dairy farmer from Belle Plaine and Senior Advisor of Strategy and Innovation at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, will lead a breakout session about responding to farmers in crisis in the afternoon of March 4.
Others representing MFU at the NFU Convention will be President Wertish and his wife Jeanne of Renville; Vice President Bryan Klabunde of Waubun; State Secretary Anne Schwagerl of Browns Valley; Farmers Union Insurance Agency President and General Manager Rodney Allebach and his wife Linda of Maple Grove; Carol and Steve Anderson of Foley; Chris Fullerton of St. Paul; Sarah Hill of Waubun; Larry and Gina Jacobson of Hitterdal; James Kanne of Franklin; Stu Lourey of Kerrick; Gene Paul of Delavan; Alan Perish of Browerville; JoAnne Riegert of Waubun; Brian Rohrenbach of Rosemount; Joshua VanDerPol of Kerkhoven; Connie Velde of Granite Falls; and Ted Winter of Fulda.
MFU staff in attendance will be Programming Director Michelle Medina; Membership and Outreach Director Bruce Miller; Public Relations and Communications Director Brita Moore; Education Director Glen Schmidt; and Operations Director Laura Sherar.
Keynote remarks at this year’s convention will be delivered by Andrew Winston, a globally recognized expert on helping businesses thrive and create a more sustainable world, and Bill Northey, USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. NFU President Roger Johnson will deliver his annual State of the Farmers Union speech. The convention will also feature a panel on agriculture trade under President Trump, which will examine the President’s goals, his tactics, and the repercussions of current trade disruptions. President Johnson will moderate the panel featuring Michael Stumo of Coalition for a Prosperous America and Kathy Baylis of the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.
Convention attendees will also be treated to a host of informational breakout sessions, award ceremonies and a game night and auction in support of NFU Foundation.
More information on convention programming can be found at NFU.org/convention. Follow along with the convention using the hashtag #NFU2019, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Select programming will be livestreamed on the NFU Facebook page. Download the NFU Convention app here for more information.