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Area farmers participate in NFU convention

Denver—Nineteen Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) members have joined farmers and ranchers from throughout the nation who are participating in National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 99th anniversary convention, March 2-5, in Rochester, N.Y. Keynoting the convention March 2, was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late U.S. senator.

Eight of the RMFU members attending the convention will serve as voting delegates. Their job, along with delegates from other state and regional Farmers Union organizations, will be to adopt the 2001 NFU policy program, which sets organizational priorities for the coming 12 months. RMFU representation ensures that the issues important to independent producers in the Rocky Mountain area will be part of the national agenda. RMFU convention delegate John Noffsker of Monte Vista, Colo., said: “Producers are becoming ‘tenant farmers’ for the corporations that buy their commodities. We need to form cooperatives that are sized and structured to compete effectively in the national marketplace and to return a greater percentage of the food and fiber dollar to the producer.

Among the key topics at this year’s NFU convention is policy change recommendations to the 1996 farm bill. RMFU has joined NFU in calling for a rewrite of the farm bill in 2001, rather than waiting until it expires in 2002. In addition, the convention hosted religious organizations who were invited to discuss their role in supporting rural communities suffering from the farm crisis and concentration and industrialization of the agricultural sector.

“For family farmers to survive, we must have legislation to solve our low commodity prices and lack of competition in agricultural markets,” said Jerry Hergenreder, a Longmont, Colo., producer who is one of RMFU’s convention delegates. “We need to ratify national policy to implement changes to our next farm bill.”

Other RMFU delegates include: Kaprice Franke, Akron, Colo.; Sue Jarrett, Wray, Colo.; Fred Macy, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; Paul New, Mosca, Colo.; Dale Petty, Clovis, N.M.; and Tamara Smith, Hasty, Colo.

Non-delegate RMFU members attending the convention include: Dave Carter, Westminster, Colo.; Mike Gardner, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; Charles and Betty Klaseen, Crawford, Colo.; Tom Lauridson, Eastlake, Colo.; William Lee-Ashley, Denver, Colo.; Charles Petty, Clovis, N.M.; Elwin and Dreama Poe, Holyoke, Colo.; and Richard and Bernice Wolf, Ault, Colo.