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Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farm Bureau lay out 2023 priorities at annual conventions

The 81st annual Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention was held at the Delta Hotels by Marriott in Northeast Minneapolis, and the 104th annual Minnesota Farm Bureau convention was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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Sabrina Portner, MFU meat processing fellow, moderates a panel during the 81st annual Minnesota Farmers Union convention on Nov. 18, 2022, in Northeast Minneapolis.
Noah Fish / Agweek
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MINNEAPOLIS – Both the Minnesota Farmers Union and Minnesota Farm Bureau held their annual conventions the third weekend in November and set priorities for the upcoming year.

The 81st annual Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention was held at the Delta Hotels by Marriott in Northeast Minneapolis.

Gary Wertish, entering his sixth year as president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said that MFU started a few years ago what’s called the New Leader Academy program, which Wertish said is being used to get newer, younger people involved in the organization.

He said members of the program were at the convention to experience the policy debate along with other aspects of the annual event.

“The program has worked out very well,” said Wertish. “We've gotten a number of people that have stayed involved in MFU, and I guess that's the ultimate goal of it.”

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Wertish said every organization is facing the challenge of recruiting younger members and that goes especially for farm groups, with the age of the average farmer in the upper 50s.

“It's always very important to keep reaching out to the younger and the newer and get them involved,” he said. “And they have different ideas, too, and there's nothing wrong with that, and it helps for a broad and good discussion among all types of firms.”

Wertish said that 2021 was overall a “pretty good” year for MFU members.

“We came off of last year with 90% of the state in extreme drought, and this year it is down to less than 30%,” he said. “But for the most part, the commodities like corn and beans did fairly well, and ended up with a fairly decent crop.”

He said that specialty crop and vegetable growers also ended up with a better year than the last.

Despite farmers having good crops overall, Wertish said that current input prices result in hard choices for producers and will lead to challenges in the future.

“This year, the commodity prices are strong, so we can weather that, but we can't weather it for long,” said Wertish. “I think back to the '80s, and the cushion can get burned up pretty fast.”

MFU members adopted special orders and elected delegates to the National Farmers Union Convention at their annual convention. Delegates debated policy surrounding health care reform, federal farm programs, a grain indemnity fund and supporting beginning farmers. The special orders of business are the organization’s main legislative priorities for the upcoming year.

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MFU's five special orders of business:

  • Making health care affordable and accessible.
  • Limiting corporate control and ensuring competitive markets.
  • Expanding local and regional processing.
  • Creating climate resilience.
  • Passing a comprehensive farm bill in 2023.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

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Carolyn Olson, vice president of Minnesota Farm Bureau, and Dan Glessing, president of MFB, during the delegate session of the 104th annual Minnesota Farm Bureau convention on Nov. 18, 2022, in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Noah Fish / Agweek

The Minnesota Farm Bureau held its 104th annual convention Nov. 17-19 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Dan Glessing, in his second year as president of Minnesota Farm Bureau, said it was overall a positive year for MFB members.

“I think it was a building year,” said Glessing. “We're looking towards the future, and what it takes to be successful in the future — so that’s not necessarily the most fun to do, but it's a necessary thing to make sure your organization keeps moving forward.”

MFB board of directors set its 2023 legislative session priority issues at the conclusion of the annual meeting.

“The strength of Farm Bureau lies in its members and our policy development process,” said Glessing. “Our delegate session, where we discuss issues surfaced by our counties, helps us identify what’s most important to keep agriculture thriving in our state.”

MFB's priority issues for 2023:

  • Beginning and emerging farmers.
  • Clean energy and sustainability.
  • Healthcare accessibility.
  • Research and investment.
  • Rural connectivity.
  • Rural vitality.
Related Topics: MINNESOTAAGRICULTURE
Noah Fish is a multimedia journalist who creates print, online and TV content for Agweek. He's also the host of the Agweek Podcast. He covers a wide range of farmers and agribusinesses throughout Minnesota and surrounding states. He can be reached at nfish@agweek.com

He reports out of Rochester, MN, where he lives with his wife, Kara, and their polite cat, Zena. He grew up in La Crosse, WI, and enjoys the talent from his home state like the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers and Grammy award-winning musicians Justin Vernon and Al Jarreau.
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