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Farmers Union celebrates 100th anniversary

IRVING, TEXAS – Some 50 Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) members will return home today after attending National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 100th Anniversary Convention here, March 1-4. The historic event included more than 1,000 Farmers Union members from across the country.

“The centennial of the National Farmers Union was an excellent time to look back at the foresight and hardships faced by Farmers Union’s founding fathers, while also being a time to look forward to new leadership and priorities for the coming century,” said RMFU president John Stencel.

Convention delegates braved a bitterly cold day to travel to Point, Texas, where Farmers Union was founded in 1902. The community of Point – about 500 citizens in all – hosted the event, serving the more than 1,000 convention goers two meals with lots of coffee in between.

Back in Irving, delegates elected a new president and adopted policy to guide the organization for the coming year. Dave Frederickson, 58, previously Minnesota Farmers Union president, became NFU’s twelfth president. Originally from Murdock, Minn., Frederickson is a fourth-generation family farmer. He replaces Leland Swenson, who after 14 years in office, declined to seek re-election.

During policy debate Monday, NFU delegates strongly affirmed the need for swift completion of a farm bill that includes the provisions in the Senate version of the bill, such as country-of-origin food labeling, banning of packer ownership of livestock more than 14 days prior to slaughter, higher loan rates, and more rights for farmers signing production contracts.

Delegates adopted a special order of business brought to the floor by RMFU calling on the U.S. Justice Department and the Federation Communications Commission to reject or highly regulate the proposed merger between DirecTV and EchoStar.

“Many look on the proposed merger as just entertainment, but there is a lot more at stake here,” Stencel said. “Rural communities rely on satellite service for high speed Internet service which enables them to utilize educational and medical consulting resources that are not otherwise available to them.”

Other policies passed by convention delegates concern emergency economic assistance, renewable energy development, and water use in Western states.

In addition, 15 RMFU counties were awarded the Leadership Achievement Award for membership growth, participation and leadership in community activities, representation at cooperative organization functions, and attendance at state and national events. Qualifying Colorado counties were first year: Crowley/Otero; second year: Adams St. Vrain, East Adams/Arapahoe, Larimer; third year: Logan, Phillips, Pueblo, Southeastern Colorado; fourth year: Elbert/Lincoln, Washington; fifth year: Weld; sixth year: Morgan. Qualifying Wyoming counties were second year: Goshen; third year: Laramie, Platte.

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