MINNESOTA FARMERS UNION WELCOMES YOU!
Join Minnesota Farmers Union for our annual Lobby Day Drive-In
On Feb. 27, come make your voice heard with Minnesota Farmers Union at the 2018 Lobby Day Drive-In at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Help us deliver our member-driven legislative priorities to lawmakers.
We will begin the day at 10 a.m. in room 300 North of the State Office Building, and then members and staff will spend the day meeting with legislators, attending committee hearings and meeting with other elected officials. The day usually ends about 3 p.m., but you can join us for however long you are able. This is a great and important opportunity for MFU members to connect with their legislators and help MFU make our presence felt at the Capitol. Members who have questions about the lobby day or want to RSVP should contact Operations Director Laura Sherar at email@example.com or (651) 639-1223.
MFU can provide you with convenient Capitol parking options and maps for your visit upon request. MFU will also be organizing some carpools to the Capitol if you do not wish to drive yourself or would like to ride with someone. Please contact MFU Field Services for assistance:
Bruce Miller firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-288-4064
Ken Pazdernik email@example.com or 218-206-4499
Lee Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-317-7537
Dori Klein email@example.com or 507-993-1658
Amanda Rosendahl firstname.lastname@example.org 320-815-8670
NFU, AFBF launch campaign to fight rural opioid addiction
As farming communities face mounting challenges with the nation’s opioid epidemic, the nation’s two largest general farm organizations are teaming up to confront the issue. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Farmers Union (NFU) have announced a new campaign, “Farm Town Strong,” to raise awareness of the crisis’ impact on farming communities. The campaign will also provide resources and information to help farm communities and encourage farmer-to-farmer support to overcome the crisis.
The groups have launched a new website, FarmTownStrong.org, to provide easy access to information and resources that can help struggling farm families and rural communities.
The Farm Town Strong campaign comes on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by AFBF and NFU that highlighted how the opioid epidemic has hit farmers and farm workers especially hard. While just under half of rural Americans say they, a family member or friend have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, for farmers and farm workers it’s 74 percent. A strong majority of respondents also support increasing public awareness of anti-opioid resources and reducing the stigma that surrounds addiction to help solve the opioid crisis.
“Farm country has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic – even harder than rural America as a whole, or big cities,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s going to take everyone working together to combat this crisis to make a difference. That’s why Farm Bureau and Farmers Union are teaming up to show unity on this issue and encourage farm families to help their neighbors. If you or a family member has been affected by opioid addiction, it’s important to talk about it so that others will know they are not fighting this alone.”
“Opioid addiction—along with all of its consequences—is a silent, but very real, crisis for our farming communities,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The lack of services, treatment and support exacerbates the issue in rural areas, and the negative stigma associated with addiction makes it hard for farmers to discuss the problem. Too often, those struggling with addiction and their family members don’t seek the support they need. Through the Farm Town Strong campaign, we’re tackling this crisis head-on by encouraging more dialogue, more information sharing, and more farmer-to-farmer engagement.”
The two organizations will also hold public events and launch a social media campaign, #FarmTownStrong, to highlight the crisis and share resources. AFBF President Zippy Duvall and NFU President Roger Johnson led a discussion on overcoming the opioid crisis at the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.
More information on the campaign can be found at FarmTownStrong.org.
MFU congratulates Lt. Gov. Smith on appointment to the U.S. Senate
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) congratulates Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on being appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Mark Dayton.
“We have a long history of working with Lt. Gov. Smith on issues that affect family farmers, especially health care and broadband,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “We look forward to working with her in this new capacity.”
2018 will be a key year for agriculture, with low crop prices still looming over so many farmers and a new Farm Bill to be written. Smith has been a strong advocate for agriculture during her time as lieutenant governor and has often visited farms.
“We are grateful for Smith’s work in supporting Minnesota’s family farmers and believe she will continue to advocate for them in Washington, D.C.,” President Wertish said.
Seven to attend National Farmers Union Women's Conference with scholarships from MFU
Minnesota Farmers Union has awarded seven women with scholarships to attend the National Farmers Union Women's Conference, held Jan. 14-18 in San Diego, Calif. They are:
Rachel Brann of Foley
Kajsa Beatty of Shoreview
Sophie Vranian of Hutchinson
Lisa Baker of Avon
Linda Larson of Rosemount
Elaine Torpet of Fertile
Barbara Heen of Maynard
Congratulations to all! These women will join MFU Renewable Energy Director Michelle Medina and Public Relations Director Brita Moore at the conference. We look forward to an inspiring week together.
NFU’s 2018 Women’s Conference theme is “Women in Leadership.” Women have been leading in agriculture for many years, and NFU hopes to build on this idea throughout the conference.
The conference will prepare attendees and their operations for their own future in many areas, including: business planning, succession planning, running for local office, networking, telling their own stories, innovative marketing and much, much more. NFU hopes to provide attendees with a network of female producers that they can reach out to throughout the year, as well as provide attendees with important tools that will help set their operations up for a future of success.
To learn more or register for the conference, go to nfu.org/womensconference.
MFU sponsoring FSMA Training sessions
Minnesota Farmers Union, in conjunction with other state agricultural partners, is helping sponsor the first Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings on the Food Safety Modernization Act in Minnesota.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule is a new piece of federal food safety legislation for fruit and vegetable farms. Farms covered by the rule are required to send at least one farm supervisor to a standardized and approved training about produce safety.
The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) has developed a course to fulfill that requirement of the Rule. It is the only course recognized by the Food and Drug Administration to fulfill the Rule’s training requirement.
Minnesota will host its first PSA FSMA Grower Trainings in 2018. Courses will be led by PSA staff, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Produce Safety Program staff, University of Minnesota Extension staff and trained fruit and vegetable farmers. MFU is a co-sponsor of these trainings, along with MDA, U of M Extension, Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Minnesota Farmers Market Association.
After the day-long course, participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies they have completed the entire training course.
Jan. 17, 2018 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
River's Edge Convention Center, St. Cloud, MN
Registration deadline: Jan. 10 or when full
March 20, 2018 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monticello Community Center, Monticello, MN
Registration deadline: March 10 or when full
To register: www.psp.tix.com. Cost is $25. (This is a subsidized cost and will likely rise in following years.) Preregistration required. Participation limited to 30 on a first-come, first-served basis. More trainings will be scheduled in the future.
Questions? Contact the Bruce Miller, MFU Membership and Outreach Director, at email@example.com, or Minnesota Department of Agriculture Produce Safety Program at (651) 539-3648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wertish, Klabunde re-elected at MFU convention; ten chosen to attend NFU convention
Minnesota Farmers Union held its 76th Annual Convention Nov. 17-19. At the convention, delegates re-elected President Gary Wertish of Renville and Vice President Bryan Klabunde of Waubun to new two-year terms.
Wertish has served as MFU’s President since January, after serving as Vice President from 2009-2016.
“I am thankful to have been re-elected to lead this strong organization,” Wertish said. “We have a lot of work to do to fight for rural America. I will work to represent Minnesota’s farmers well in this fight. Farmers Union has a long history of working for family farmers.”
Klabunde was first elected as Vice President in February. Prior to his election, he served as Mahnomen County Farmers Union President from 2010-2017.
“Minnesota Farmers Union provides outstanding leadership opportunities for farmers, which we need to make our voices heard,” Klabunde said. “I will use my knowledge as an active farmer to seek policy changes that are crucial for our success.”
Additionally, the delegates elected 10 members to represent Minnesota at the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention, which will be held March 3-6 in Kansas City, Mo. They are Carol Anderson of Foley; Paul Benson of Mahnomen; Jonathan Brase of Waseca; Erik Hatlestad of New London; Scott Hilgeman of Oklee; Deborah Mills of Lake City; John Naureth of Lakefield; Frank Turnock of McGregor; Harmon Wilts of Kerkhoven; and Ted Winter of Windom.
MFU members debated many changes to its official policy, with top issues being passage of a new Farm Bill in 2018; support for more health care options for farmers, including being allowed to buy into MinnesotaCare; and support for the Renewable Fuels Standard. The policy document is developed from the grassroots advocacy of MFU members. The organization lobbies for this policy in the Minnesota Legislature and the U.S. Congress.
Several speakers addressed the convention attendees. Meteorologist Paul Douglas gave the keynote address, speaking on the effects of climate change for farmers. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson; NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew; NFU Biofuels Advisor Anne Steckel; and 40 Square Cooperative Solutions Manager Char Vrieze also spoke to the convention.
MFU demonstrated its commitment to Minnesota farmers by sourcing food for convention meals from local farms, cooperatives and businesses.
Minnesota Farmers Union and Farmers Union Insurance Agency invest in 40 Square as viable farmer health care option
The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) Executive Committee voted on Nov. 3 to approve the organization’s purchase of shares in 40 Square Cooperative Health Solutions, a new health care cooperative for Minnesota farmers.
MFU, a grassroots organization, has its heritage in the cooperative model. 40 Square is a relevant example of farmers forming a cooperative to collectively address a need.
“Ever since farmers in Jackson County started organizing for fairer commodity prices in the early 1910s, MFU has been a strong backer of new cooperatives,” said Gary Wertish, President of MFU. “We supported legislation passed this year that allowed Minnesota farmers and agribusinesses to form cooperatives for health care, which makes groups like 40 Square possible. We are happy to make this investment in 40 Square.”
Farmers Union Insurance Agency, an MFU-owned company serving the insurance needs of Minnesotans, is supporting the marketing efforts of 40 Square. The majority of FUIA agents have signed up to write 40 Square health care policies for their farmer customers.
“Farmers Union Insurance Agency is always seeking sustainable health insurance options for Minnesota’s farm families and their employees, and we feel 40 Square will be a viable option today and into the future,” said Rodney Allebach, President and General Manager of FUIA. “We are proud to partner with Minnesota Farmers Union and 40 Square by taking a stake in this partnership.”
MFU signs letter urging policy that supports small family farms
Minnesota Farmers Union recently signed a letter from the Center for Rural Affairs calling on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to adopt policies that address unfair contracts for farmers, increase market transparency, reform USDA guaranteed loans, and guarantee worker rights as they work on the 2018 Farm Bill. Several other state Farmers Union organizations, as well as National Farmers Union, signed the letter.
View the letter at this link: http://www.cfra.org/news/171011/congress-must-adopt-policies-support-small-farms
Successful Fly-in for Minnesota Farmers Union
The participants from the National Farmers Union Legislative Fly-in have returned after three days of learning and discussion. Minnesota sent 36 in total to Washington, D.C.
Participants had three main issues to talk to legislators about - the Farm Bill, health care and renewable fuels - as well as the Farmer's Share that NFU releases monthly. MFU's group dropped information or talked directly with all of Minnesota's Congressional delegation, plus other representatives from around the nation.
We also presented five legislators with the Golden Triangle Award, the highest honor from National Farmers Union. The award signifies that the member has shown dedication to improving the livelihoods of family farmers and ranchers. MFU awarded Golden Triangles to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Rick Nolan and Rep. Collin Peterson.
Minnesota Farmers Union Welcomes Brita Moore as Public Relations Director
As of July 10, 2017, Brita Moore has joined the Minnesota Farmers Union staff as Public Relations Director.
Moore, who lives in St. Paul, previously was assistant managing editor at Agri News, a weekly newspaper focusing on agricultural issues in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.
“I am honored to work with MFU,” Moore said. “I look forward to helping strengthen Minnesota’s rural communities and sharing the stories of our farmers.”
“Brita’s experience as an agriculture journalist will be a great benefit to our staff,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “I am grateful to have her on board.”
Moore will primarily be responsible for promoting MFU on social media, contributing stories to the monthly Minnesota Agriculture publication and media relations. She can be reached at email@example.com, 651-288-4068 (office) or 651-308-2435 (cell).
MFU applauds passage of ditch mowing legislation
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) today applauded the signature of
Senate File 218 by Governor Mark Dayton that implements a moratorium
on the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) in enforcing
permits until April 30th, 2018 for mowing and baling in right of way on
trunk highways, except for land that adjoins state land.
MFU had raised concerns with the new permit system MNDOT had announced in
December of 2016, that many farmers saw as unnecessary, confusing and
burdensome.“Mowing roadsides has been an important source of forage for
farmers, controls weeds and improves visibility on highways” said MFU President
Gary Wertish. The legislation will give all parties a chance to get together and
address issues, “MFU encourages farmers to pay attention to this issue over the
interim and be involved in making their voice heard on this issue” added Wertish.
Read more here.
MFU Applauds the Strong Work Completed as the NFU Concludes its 115th Anniversary Convention with Adoption of Policy, Special Orders of Business
The National Farmers Union (NFU) 115th Anniversary Convention concluded today following the adoption of the organization’s policy book and special orders of business. The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) delegation was a part of nearly 500 family farmers and ranchers who convened in San Diego both to engage in thoughtful policy deliberations, as well as to learn from agricultural experts and each another.
The adopted policy book and special orders of business will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, including the current farm crisis and upcoming deliberations on the 2018 Farm Bill. Read more here.
Two Minnesota Farmers Union Members Recognized for Excellence in Membership and Leadership
National Farmers Union (NFU) recognized the efforts of two Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members for their excellence in membership recruitment and outreach at the 115th Anniversary Convention.
“A strong grassroots network is the backbone of a farmer-led organization,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Our peer-driven approach to membership and outreach is what keeps our organization rooted in rural America, and I am honored to recognize the efforts of these dedicated leaders.”
Annually, National Farmers Union presents one or more awards in each of four categories: Silver Star Award, Membership Achievement Award, Leadership Achievement Award, and Outstanding Leadership Achievement Award.
Gary Wertish of Minnesota Farmers Union, received the Silver Star Award, the highest honor bestowed to individual Farmers Union organizers. Wertish is a six-time recipient of the coveted award.
Bessie Klose from Minnesota Farmers Union received the Membership Achievement Award for her dedication to recruitment.
Minnesota Farmers Union’s Board of Directors meets elect new Vice President, State Secretary and to discuss legislative priorities.
Minnesota Farmers Union’s (MFU) Full Board of Directors met for the special business of electing a new Vice President of the organization. Bryan Klabunde from Wauban, Mahonomen County, was elected as the new Vice President of Minnesota Farmers Union. Bryan will fill the position that was left open with the election of Gary Wertish to President of the organization in January.
Members also discussed legislative issues that are affecting family farmers in the 2017 legislative session. The Full Board consists of county presidents throughout the state. Discussion involved key issues such as ditch mowing permits, buffer regulations, and the public option on health care, amongst other important key issues. Read more here.
Minnesota Farmers Union applauds passage of Rural Finance Authority Legislation
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) applauds the signing today by Governor Mark Dayton of legislation to fund the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) which helps farmers secure funding for various important loans including restructure, beginning farmers, and farm improvement loans.
MFU appreciates the efforts of the chief authors Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) and Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) as well as many legislators from both sides of the aisle in recognizing the need to expedite funding for the RFA which has lacked funding since December 31st, 2016 and been unable to process loans. Read more here.
Minnesota Farmers Union Elects New President
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held a special election on Saturday, January 21, 2017 to elect a new President to replace former president, Doug Peterson, who retired December 31, 2016. The special election consisted of the full board members of county presidents from around that state.
Former MFU Vice President, Gary Wertish was elected by the full board members on Saturday to be the 10th President of Minnesota Farmers Union.
Gary has served as the Vice President of Minnesota Farmers Union since 2009, and has filled in as interim President since the retirement of Doug Peterson on December 31, 2016.
Prior to being elected as Vice President, Gary had worked as a field representative for Farmers Union. Gary worked for Senator Mark Dayton as his Agricultural Director. He farms with one of his sons raising corn, soybeans, and navy beans.
Read more here.
Tim Walz Blog on NFU website - The Future of Agriculture and Veterans in Farming
By U.S. Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01)
By now folks across the country are well aware that the average age of American farmers and ranchers is just over 58 years old. Less well known is the fact that 200,000 military personnel are discharged from the armed services each year. As a Member of Congress who serves on the House Agriculture, Armed Services, and Veterans Affairs Committees, I see a compelling opportunity at the intersection of both populations.
Agriculture is in desperate need of an infusion of new farmers and ranchers. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to add 100,000 new farmers to agriculture in the coming years. Retiring farmers without viable succession plans are weighing what to do with vast tracts of land across this country, and as older farmers look to transition, and rural communities continue to empty out, farming and ranching’s future looks more unstable.
Meanwhile, the veteran community faces its own set of unique challenges. Of the 2.7 million service members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, at least 970,000 veterans have some degree of officially recognized disability. Recent reports suggest that such figures significantly underestimate the actual extent of injuries sustained. Following their separation from the military, our brave men and women look to new careers where they can utilize valuable skills they have learned in ways that serve their community
To read more click here: http://nfu.org/veterans-and-agriculture-an-opportunity-to-revitalize-farming/5214
Minnesota Farmers Union Member from Northfield, MN in Rice County Creates Stunning Landmark Sculpture for Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) member, Mike Peterson, from Northfield, MN in Rice County, and Rice County Vice President, created a stunning sculpture for MFU that represents the true symbols of family farmers, whom MFU strong advocates for and supports. The plow, rake, and hoe are the original insignia of Minnesota Farmers Union, and represent the historical tools of farmers that represent their hard work. Read more here.
MFU Rambow Logo Wear
MFU offers a line of dress shirts, sweatshirts, casual wear and bags for purchase in partnership with Rambow Inc. out of New London, Minn. Click here to view merchandise and place an order.