Farmers Union members participate in seminars on carbon markets, food safety and anti-trust at annual convention
Nov. 19, 2021
ST. PAUL – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) kicked off its 80th annual state convention today with three panel discussions.
The first, “Building a Direct-to-Restaurant Business: Considerations for Food Safety,” helped farmers and others learn how to minimize food safety risk while creating successful relationships with restaurants. It was also an opportunity for members to learn more about Minnesota Foodshed, launched last spring.
“When the pandemic hit, members who sold directly to restaurants saw as much as 90 percent of their business wiped out virtually overnight,” said Minnesota Cooks Program Director Claudine Arndt. “By launching Minnesota Foodshed, we’re eager to help our members rebuild relationships with wholesale buyers, supporting their farm businesses. Food safety is an important piece of developing those relationships.”
At Farmers Union County Conventions this fall, many members raised questions about carbon markets, which were addressed in the second panel discussion, “Carbon Markets: What’s Fair for Farmers and the Public?” As part of this, MFU announced that they plan to develop a ‘Farmers Guide to Carbon Markets’ in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG).
“As a grass-based farmer, I love the idea of being compensated for my soil health practices, but I have a lot of questions about carbon markets,” said Hannah Bernhardt, member of the National Farmers Union Climate Change Policy Advisory Panel and the Pine County Farmers Union vice president. “This panel helped answer some of my questions on what policies might make carbon markets more fair for farmers. Right now, it’s pretty much the ‘Wild West’ so it’s important that farmers voices are included as rules and regulations are considered. I’m also looking forward to helping MFU develop a practical guide to navigating these markets.”
The third panel, “Corporate Control: Opportunities for Action on Anti-Trust,” addressed an issue that MFU members often raise: Lack of anti-trust enforcement. With four companies controlling 85 percent of beef packing, 70 percent of pork packing and 54 percent of poultry processing, farmers lack marketing opportunities.
“Everything from seed to processing is controlled by corporate monopolies and the impacts have been devastating,” said Mike Stranz, National Farmers Union (NFU) vice president of advocacy. “We launched Fairness for Farmers to give farmers a venue to tell their stories of selling into a market dominated by monopolies. Stories are powerful and we intend to share these stories on social media and with lawmakers to encourage them to create a more competitive marketplace.”
The 80th annual Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention continues Saturday and Sunday at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Minneapolis Northeast, 1330 Industrial Blvd. N.E., Minneapolis.
There is no charge to attend the convention, but meals are ticketed events. A tentative convention agenda can be found on the Minnesota Farmers Union website.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org)