June 30, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
Jonathan Liedl, Catholic Rural Life, 651-895-4439,

Cardinal Peter Turkson made the announcement at an international ag event that included the presidents of four states’ farmers unions, NFU representative

MILAN (June 30, 2015) – One of the Catholic Church’s most influential leaders is throwing his weight behind a publication affirming the “vocation to agriculture.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, announced his support for the forthcoming document, The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, at an international gathering of farm leaders in Milan on June 27.

The cardinal said he was “delighted” that the publication was moving forward, and underscored its importance.

“It aims to affirm the dignity of the farmer and agricultural leader and it wants to encourage their commitments to the common good of all, including care of the earth,” he said.

National Farmers Union has supported The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, and the presidents of four Midwestern states’ farmers unions and the National Farmers Union vice president of international relations were present in Milan for the event.

“The cardinal’s announcement reinforces our efforts to draw attention to food production as a social responsibility,” said Mark Watne, the president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. “Having the Vatican support The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader will only strengthen its credibility.”

Doug Peterson, the president of Minnesota Farmers Union, affirmed the importance of having farmers take a leading role in these discussions.  “It is breaking new ground in support of family farmers by changing the thinking from corporate agriculture to farming for family sustainability and profit,” said Peterson.

“Farmers have solutions and answers for the complex problems of food energy and stewardship because of their relationship with the land,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Montana Farmers Union President Alan Merrill noted, “Only through agricultural leaders will the human aspects of food and hunger be solved to sustain and continue life.”

The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader will be released later this year, and will provide practical ways for food and ag leaders to apply their faith to their work. The initiative is also being supported by Catholic Rural Life (USA) and the International Catholic Rural Association. For more information, visit

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.


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