Conversation on agriculture policy and the honoring of two influential individuals highlighted the recent Minnesota Farmers Union convention, held virtually this year.

The 79th annual MFU convention was held on Nov. 21, with members from across the state participating in the organization’s cornerstone meeting via Zoom.

The abbreviated agenda consisted of guest speakers, discussion of bylaw changes, passage of seven special orders of business and the election of delegates to the next National Farmers Union convention.

By a unanimous vote of the delegates attending the meeting, MFU formally recognized outgoing U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and State Rep. Jeanne Poppe, D-Austin, with the Leadership in Agriculture Award.

Peterson, from Minnesota’s 7th District, has served as either chair or ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee for much of his 30-year tenure in Congress.

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Poppe has been chair of the Minnesota House Agriculture Committee for the past two years and has championed agricultural policy and education, according to a release from MFU.

Both Peterson and Poppe lost bids for re-election this fall, but their "influence in government is sure to be well-remembered" by MFU, the release said.

“Chair Peterson and Chair Poppe have been reliable lawmakers when we need to get things done for family farmers,” said Gary Wertish, MFU president, in a statement. “They’ve consistently worked across the aisle and held up agriculture’s reputation as a bipartisan policy area. We will miss working with them but know their work will be meaningful for years to come."

The special orders passed by MFU members were regarding affordable health care, expanding meat and poultry processing, promoting biofuels, pandemic recovery, climate change and broadband investment.

In the press release from MFU, Wertish thanked the MFU Policy Committee for crafting the special orders.

"(The orders) were based on the myriad policy resolutions we received from county unions this fall, as we do every year," Wertish said. "We will work for these grassroots policy resolutions in the next legislative session and beyond.”

MFU delegates elected 10 members to represent Minnesota at the NFU Convention, held virtually from Feb. 28-March 2, 2021:

Vicki Barnes, Woodbury

Hannah Bernhardt, Finlayson

David Christianson, Parkers Prairie

Laurie Driessen, Canby

Larry Jacobson, Hitterdal

Dan Miller, Spring Valley

Noreen Thomas, Moorhead

James VanDerPol, Kerkhoven

Ted Winter, Fulda

Robert Woods, Minneapolis

Several guest speakers also appeared, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz; Minnesota's U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee; U.S. Rep. Angie Craig from Minnesota’s 2nd District, a member of the House Agriculture Committee; NFU President Rob Larew and Vice President Patty Edelburg; and Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.