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Published March 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

Farmers Union members attend national convention

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members recently returned from the annual National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention held in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members recently returned from the annual National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention held in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Residents from Douglas County who attended included Blaine Graff of Alexandria, and Marlys and Marvin Jensen of Kensington.

At the convention, members set policy, passed special orders and presented awards.

Speakers spoke about the status of the agriculture community and where it is heading. NFU President Roger Johnson, and NFU Vice President Claudia Svarstad were re-elected to their positions.

“The National Convention is a place where all the state Farmers Union organizations come together to work on policy that puts farmers first,” said Doug Peterson, MFU president. “Now that the convention is over, we can take that policy and let our elected federal officials know where National Farmers Union stands on the issues important to farmers.”

One of the NFU Meritorious Awards was given to Roseville resident Dave Frederickson, former MFU, and NFU President, for his dedication and hard work for Farmers Union and American agriculture.

Three other Minnesotans received awards during the convention: Bessie Klose of Atwater; Tim Henning of Adrian; and Alan Perish of Browerville. They received the Membership Award for their hard work of recruiting members to Farmers Union.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to the convention attendees about the importance of a unified farm policy.

Special orders called for the following:

•In the livestock market there needs to be regulations to protect family farmers along with increased oversight of the commodity markets in order to keep speculators from driving prices to artificial highs.

•Increases in the dairy price support program should account for the total cost of production, and the closing of the trade loophole that allows unlimited imports of MPC, casein and other concentrated dairy imports.

•The need for any reduction in the agriculture spending budget should be at the same percentage as all other federal programs.

•A permanent estate tax exemption should be set at $4 million per person.

•The Child Nutrition Act should be reauthorized to include an additional $10 billion over 10 years with an increased emphasis on farm to school programs and improving children’s access to nutritious foods.

•Healthcare reform should include a publicly-run health insurance plan that would increase availability of health care to rural Americans; an end to the exemption from antitrust laws currently granted to health insurance companies; and support for rural hospitals to ensure they have resources necessary to provide high quality.

•Fair trade should be supported and advocate the structure of future and pending trade language and other acts that will allow U.S. agriculture to be a net exporter as a result of the agreement.

Minnesota Farmers Union (www.mfu.org) is a nonprofit membership-based organization.

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