MFU Represents Organization At National Convention
In March, Montana Farmers Union members and staff attended the 118th national Farmers Union Convention in Savannah, GA. More than 500 Farmers Union members from across the country convened. The delegation elected Rob Larew to succeed Roger Johnson as president and re-elected Patty Edelburg to serve as NFU vice president.
“The reason for Farmers Union’s longstanding success — and the reason why I am so enthusiastic about leading this organization — is its grassroots structure,” said Larew. “Each year, our members set organizational directives and federal policy priorities in a democratic process, which ensures that the work we do in our national office is really in the best interest of the hard-working family farmers and ranchers.”
MFU sent 10 delegates to represent the organization. President Walter Schweitzer said the national convention is a great chance for Farmers Union members to come together.
“I always enjoy getting together with other farmers,” said Schweitzer. “The national Farmers Union Convention brings together farmers from all over the world to discuss issues that affect family farms. It is therapeutic to share experiences with others facing the same concerns. It always amazes me how much I have in common with another family farmer even if they are from California, New York or South Africa. We are all struggling to survive in a world where the multinational corporations control our inputs and our markets. The only way the family farm will survive is through education, organization, cooperation and legislation. We have to ban together to fight for the family farm or lose it.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke to the group, and NFU president Roger Johnson delivered his final State of the Farmers Union address. Attendees also heard from a panel on black land loss and voting rights and breakout sessions on precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, farm to table and hemp production. MFU member Kirby Hancock served on the hemp production panel and spoke to the potential of using Hempcrete as a building material.
One of the special orders passed by the body was truth in labeling. MFU board of director and delegate William Downs said truth in labeling is a key policy item.
“Consumers want to see truth in labeling in the markets. Consumers are being misinformed and as an organization we are addressing that with policy,” Downs said.
Delegate Jeri Copenhaver said many of the policy items discussed relate to Montana because of the diversity of the state’s agriculture industry. Specifically Copenhaver mentioned consolidation in agriculture and truth in labeling as two main policy items.
“Farmers Union is a grassroots organization so we bring policy items from our counties to the state convention and then the national convention to make sure Montana is heard,” said Co-