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Farmers from across the state will gather at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Jan. 27-29, for the 86th annual Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention. Throughout the family-friendly weekend, attendees will join in networking, workshops and the important work of shaping the policy that will guide WFU through the coming year.

Doug O’Brien, former senior policy advisor with White House Rural Affairs under the Obama Administration, will headline a pre-convention conference on Fri., Jan. 27. The event, titled Groundswell: Building the Future of Farmers Union, will explore the new ideas and challenges that are shaping the future of agriculture and rural life. O’Brien will share his perspectives from his work at the White House and more recently as executive vice president of programs for the National Cooperative Business Association. The cost to attend is $35 for WFU members or $65 for nonmembers (includes one-year family membership.)

On Friday evening, the WFU Foundation Fundraiser: A Night in The Pines, will celebrate the legacy of Wisconsin Farmers Union Kamp Kenwood and raise funds for facility improvements at the historic camp. Admission is $50 per person.

During the convention, which opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden will update attendees on the past year’s accomplishments, ongoing projects and a vision for 2017. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson will give A Look Ahead at the Next Farm Bill.

Other workshop topics and presenters will include:

  • Canada’s Dairy Supply Management: Perspectives from Our Neighbors to the North by Professor Bruce Muirhead, professor of history and the associate vice president of external research with the University of Waterloo in Ontario
  • Turning the Tide of Corporate Consolidation by Professor Peter Carstensen, UW-Madison
  • Searching for Sustainability: The Documentary with filmmaker Dan Bertalan
  • The Kitchen Sink of Cover Crops by National Wildlife Federation Senior Agriculture Program Manager Ryan Stockwell
  • Adding Livestock to Your Farm by well-known fencing and grazing consultant and farmer Randy Cutler
  • Grow Your Chapter: Effective Messaging and Outreach by WFU Membership Coordinator Deb Jakubek
  • The Farmer’s Role in Protecting Groundwater

Friends of the Family Farmer and membership awards will be presented during a luncheon on Saturday. A special afternoon panel will feature farmers from around the state and touch on the convention theme of Cultivating Rural Values, celebrating the shared values that bring together a diverse group of farmers under the big tent of Farmers Union.

Other activities throughout the weekend include a concurrent Youth Co-op Convention, the Torchbearer’s Award Presentation for youth program graduates, a silent auction and a Sunday morning service reflecting on The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader.

The convention is open to the public but only member delegates may vote on policy issues. On the final day of convention, delegates will elect or re-elect directors for an at-large position, District 1 (Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas and Washburn counties) and District 4 (Buffalo, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, and Trempealeau counties). A delegate will also be elected to represent WFU at the National Farmers Union Convention, March 5-8 in San Diego, California.

Early bird registration discounts end Jan. 12. Visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com for rates and to register. For more information contact the WFU State Office at 715-723-5561.

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