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Every winter, members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union travel from throughout the state to gather for a weekend of networking and grassroots policymaking at the family farm organization’s annual convention. The 89th WFU State Convention will be Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 at the Central Wisconsin Convention & Expo Center in Rothschild.

The family-friendly weekend is an inspiring chance to see family farmers, consumers and others interested in the future of rural Wisconsin come together to discuss issues, attend workshops, enjoy local food and recognize those who are doing good things in the countryside.

The weekend kicks off Fri., Jan. 31 with Groundswell, a one-day conference that will focus on Building Rural Strength and Resiliency by Advancing Racial Justice. Led by Nick Olson of Land Stewardship Project and Rachel Henderson of Dunn County Farmers Union, this interactive workshop will take a look at agricultural migration and examine how race and cultural narratives affect our rural landscape. The group will consider what Farmers Union members can do to move racial justice forward. Groundswell runs from noon to 4:30pm. Registration costs $65 for nonmembers (includes one-year WFU family membership) or $35 for members. Lunch is included.

“If we want to achieve our mission of enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities, and all people, we need to engage and involve a much broader cross-section of people than we have historically,” said Groundswell organizer Tommy Enright. “We cannot have social justice without racial justice and equity, and the first step toward this goal is to educate ourselves.”

On Friday evening, WFU will host an evening of networking, food, and a chance to hear from candidates in the upcoming 2020 elections with a Meet & Greet from 6-9pm. Tickets are available at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com/convention.

The convention keynote will be Barry Lynn, a leading champion of anti-monopoly reform in the United States and beyond. Lynn will discuss concentration and monopoly power in the general economy, including a look at how the rising technology and social media giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook imperil our economy and our democracy. He will also discuss how monopoly power in the agricultural and food system economy fits into this larger picture of the economy, including details from Open Market’s recent report “Food and Power: Addressing Monopolization in America’s Food System.” Lynn will share key tactics that farmers, eaters and citizens can deploy to fight back against the stranglehold of monopoly power.

Workshop topics and presenters on Saturday will include Why Competition Matters, Barry Lynn, Open Markets Institute; Navigating Conflict, Kristine Ranger, Knowledge Navigators; Our Lakes, Our Lands, Bill Hogseth, WFU, and Eric Olson, UW-Stevens Point; and Supply Management: Dirty Word or Powerful Tool?, Sarah Lloyd, WFU, and Ben Lillston, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

There will also be a silent auction, with proceeds benefitting the Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Kamp Kenwood facilities as well as archival of historical items. Any business or individuals interested in donating items may contact Sean at 715-723-5561 or sevjen@wisconsinfarmersunion.com.

Other activities throughout the weekend include a concurrent Youth Co-op Convention, youth program graduation, and awards ceremonies recognizing active members and the Friend of the Family Farmer.

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 directors for the WFU Board, as well as two delegates who will represent WFU at the National Farmers Union Convention March 1-3 in Savannah, Georgia.

Early bird rates end Jan. 9. Visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com/convention for more details and to register. For more information contact the WFU State Office at 715-723-5561.

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