Family farmers and ranchers are the best advocates for agriculture, and over the last four days, the National Farmers Union has provided more than 500 members and delegates of the 114th Anniversary Convention with the advocacy tools they need to be better informed about topics important to farm policy and the industry.
“We came to Minneapolis from farms and ranches that operate thousands of acres to farms that operate less than half an acre. We have full-time farmers and part-time farmers as members. And yet, we all share a common bond because in many ways we face the exact same challenges.
We all make NFU a much stronger organization,” said NFU President Roger Johnson during his State of the Farmers Union address.
Throughout the convention, several high-level officials highlighted the program, speaking about the opportunities and challenges facing American agriculture today. In addition to a special video message from President Barack Obama, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Gen. Wesley Clark gave keynote remarks. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., and U.S. Representative Tom Emmer, R-Minn., also addressed the convention.
Attendees also participated in industry tours and breakout panels discussions focused on farm safety, value-added grains and grassroots advocacy.
While education is a focus of the annual meeting, the “most important aspect is the policy adoption process” at the conclusion of the convention. Johnson explained, “It is the job of the delegates to decide on our policy positions for the coming year.”
In a unique grassroots process, 136 delegates from member states come together to review, line-by-line, the organization’s policies. In addition, the delegates adopted 10 special orders. The adopted orders place special emphasis on the issues of:
- Family Farming and Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL)
- Family Farming and Trade Policy
- Family Farming and Cotton
- Family Farming and the Current Farm Bill
- Family Farming and ARC-County Payments
- Family Farming and Animal Disease Protection and Research
- Family Farming and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)
- Family Farming and Future Farm Bills
- Family Farming and Leading the Way on Climate Change
- Resolution Establishing an NFU Dairy Price Committee & Campaign
During the policy-setting session, the organization wrangled over tying crop insurance with conservation compliance and shifted its position on GMO labeling after a spirited debate. This story from DTN/Progressive Farmer has more detail on those intra-chapter machinations. New England Farmers Union remains committed to the balanced policy position supporting mandatory, transparent labels for food containing GMO ingredients while upholding farmers’ rights to use biotechnology.