Many Washington, D.C.-based organizations brag about their grassroots membership, either implying or outright claiming that they understand and are in constant contact with the pulse of the people.

But at National Farmers Union, we not only claim to be committed to being a grassroots organization, our structure and bylaws are completely written and voted on in a democratic process each year at our annual convention. In this way, our members truly have an opportunity to help shape the vision for the future of agriculture.

We are one of the few organizations in Washington that is truly driven by its members, who meet with each other, elected officials and government agencies and then convene to discuss the organization’s overall policies and then work to craft policies important to family farmers and ranchers.

This annual process begins in late January with the meeting of the NFU Policy Committee, comprised of members, who are all considered outstanding leaders in their state/regional Farmers Union organizations and were nominated by their respective state’s president to serve on the committee. These members meet with important elected and appointed officials in the nation’s capital and in their home states to ensure that they possess a broad working knowledge of current legislative issues and political landscape as they move to revise NFU’s policy handbook.

The late January meetings of the policy committee is the first part of the process, whereby chosen leaders, representing a wide swath of agriculture, gather to better understand and assess current NFU policy. During these meetings – which last nearly a full week – the discuss and debate possible policy changes that will be brought to the voting membership during the annual convention in March.”

The second part of the process takes place at the yearly annual convention, which this year takes place March 14-17, in Wichita, Kansas. During the convention, the policy committee’s suggestions are considered and voted on, and any Farmers Union member may propose changes to the policy.

After hearing from delegates and the membership, the policy committee submits a final copy of the suggested policy to the delegates at the convention for their consideration, amendment and adoption. That is what a grassroots organization really looks like, and we are proud to say that year in and year out, we see American democracy in action, pure and simple.

New England Farmers Union is one of 26 state or regional chapters of National Farmers Union.

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