Twenty-six Wisconsin Farmers Union members were among the more than 500 farmers and ranchers who have gathered for the 114th National Farmers Union Anniversary Convention March 5-8, in Minneapolis.
The annual convention embodies true grassroots policy-making, with Farmers Union members from across the nation taking a seat at the table.
Delegates are responsible for reviewing the organization's policies, which ultimately will set the stage for NFU decision-making and policy priorities throughout the year.
'Farmers Union has a rich history dating back to 1902, when a small group of farmers and other rural folks saw the need to strengthen the voice of rural America,' said WFU President Darin Von Ruden, who dairy farms with his family near Westby. 'We're proud to take up that torch yet today and work together to ensure the future of the next generation of family farmers.'
The March 5-8 event brings together NFU farm and ranch members, elected officials and friends of agriculture for meetings, breakout sessions and industry tours.
Representing WFU this year are: Andrew Cotter, Eau Claire; Craig and Vicki Dunnum, Westby; Patty Edelburg, Scandinavia; Danielle Endvick, Holcombe; Ed and Kristi Gorell, Eleva; Brad Henderson, Chippewa Falls; Chris Holman, Custer; Deb Jakubek, Amherst Junction; Bill Krueger, Knapp; Mark Liebaert, South Range; Kriss Marion, Blanchardville; Bruce Miller, Hayward; Craig Myhre, Osseo; Janet Nelson, Prairie Farm; Dennis Rosen, Emerald; Lisa Shirek, Amherst Junction; Michael and Nancy Slattery, Maribel; Alison Slaughter, River Falls; Cathy Statz, Chippewa Falls; Tom Quinn, Downing; David Wright-Racette, Madison; Darin Von Ruden, Westby; and Amy Wallner, Milwaukee.
In his presidential address, NFU President Roger Johnson celebrated the diversity of the organization.
'We are a nonpartisan organization – that allows us to stand strong on our principles. We come here as Democrats, as Republicans, as Independents. We come from farms and ranches that operate literally thousands of acres to farms that operate on less than half an acre,' Johnson said. 'We have farmers who operate in what I would say is traditional or conventional agriculture, but also those who operate CSAs, out of farmers market stands, and some organically. And yet we all share a common bond, because we in many ways face exactly the same challenges. There is strength in our shared values and our ability to collaborate for the future of American agriculture.'
In addition to the policy consideration process, attendees had the opportunity to tour Twin Cities cooperatives and local food businesses and learn about the most challenging issues facing agriculture from keynote speakers, including U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, General Wesley Clark and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
Targeted breakout session featured farm safety, social media and marketing for the farm, retirement planning, value-added grains, food safety regulations and Minnesota Cooks, a project of the Minnesota Farmers Union.
For more information about the National Farmers Union 114th Anniversary Convention, visit nfu.org/convention.
Wisconsin Farmers Union is a member-driven organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities, and all people through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors, and civic engagement.
Learn more at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com.