Minnesota Farmers Union members call for better health care, Farm Bill passage, end to trade war
Nov. 18, 2018
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held its 77th Annual Convention Nov. 16-18 in Minneapolis. The convention marked 100 years since Farmers Union’s presence in Minnesota began with the Rost Center Local in Jackson County.
Convention delegates passed numerous policy measures into the official MFU policy, based on resolutions from county Farmers Union organizations. MFU will advocate for this policy at the local, state and federal levels, with top issues being health care policy reform; calls for Congress to pass the Farm Bill during the lame-duck session; and calls to end the tariffs that have driven down prices on the farm.
Delegates also unanimously approved a motion to focus the next Rural Voices Discussions on health care.
“We need to stop playing politics with health care policy and find solutions that will benefit everyone,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “Our members spoke out very strongly about the need to fix our health care policy at our convention, and we urge the next Minnesota Legislature to take action on it.
“I thank all those who attended our convention and contributed to our policy discussion. We will work for these grassroots policy resolutions in the next legislative session and beyond, with the goal of getting a fair price for our family farmers’ labor.”
The delegates elected ten members to represent Minnesota at the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention, to be held March 3-5, 2019 in Bellevue, Wash. They are:
Vicki Barnes, St. Paul
Rachel Brann, Milaca
Maria Fatz, Waubun
Linda Larson, Rosemount
Eric Monson, Eagle Bend
Peter Schwagerl, Browns Valley
Mary Sullivan, Franklin
Elaine Torpet, Fertile
Cindy VanDerPol, Kerkhoven
Tim Velde, Granite Falls
President Wertish delivered the convention keynote address, accompanied by the three videos that were shown in the Farmers Union Coffee Shop at the Minnesota State Fair, which covered Farmers Union history, the importance of local foods and the state of agriculture today. He emphasized that Farmers Union has been working for fair prices for farmers since its beginnings and continues to work for this today.
Several other speakers addressed the convention attendees, including U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who is likely to become the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee in January; U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee; NFU President Roger Johnson; Farm Service Agency Minnesota State Executive Director Joe Martin; Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson; 40 Square Cooperative Solutions Project Manager Char Vrieze; and Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Senior Adviser for Strategy and Innovation Meg Moynihan.
MFU also held three informational breakout sessions during the convention. State Senators Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, and Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, along with United States of Care State Affairs Director Allison O’Toole, led a discussion about health care policy. MDA Produce Safety Program Manager Valerie Gamble and produce farmer Jerry Untiedt led a session on the Food Safety Modernization Act. Clean Energy Economies Minnesota Executive Director Gregg Mast led a session on renewable energy.
MFU carried out its commitment to Minnesota farmers by sourcing food for convention meals from local farms, cooperatives and businesses.
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org).