By Paul Stout
This is my first opportunity to address the membership since the convention, so bear with me. First I want to begin by thanking those who voted for me and for this great opportunity to serve. I want to give a special thanks to Kent Peppler, Mike Goranson, Dale Petty, Lawrence Gallegos, Marvin Schmidt and others who helped to make this happen. Over the last eleven years I have developed many friendships in all three states and shared many joyous times. Many thanks to everyone!
I know has been a trying time for all of us in so many ways. Whether it is our national security, the farm bill or our organization’s growing pains, we will get through these challenges. The membership of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is resilient and strong. While there is a lot of disagreement on many things, I think we can all agree that we are thankful to be living in a nation where dissention is permitted and discussed openly. I ask for all of us to come together once again in that Farmers Union spirit and move forward. Our membership is very diverse in so many ways. We have differing political philosophies, small organic farms, larger family farms and ranches, different ideas on policy and governance and so on. The real goal is to find solutions that all of our membership can live with and prosper under. I came to Denver for a finance committee meeting on the Dec. 4 and we did something later that afternoon I want to tell you about. We went over to Whole Foods in downtown Denver and visited with the shoppers about Farmers Union and things we are doing on their behalf. We also bagged a few groceries, too. If you have never visited a Whole Foods store, you must go to one. While I usually am not real excited about grocery shopping, this is entirely different. It is so fascinating to see all of the different organic products that are sold there. It is also interesting to note the cost of these items – forty-nine cents a pound for wheat. Wouldn’t you like to get nearly $30 a bushel for your production?
People who came through the checkout lines represented all walks of life. Price was less of an object than the safety and healthfulness of the food. Many of those we spoke with were very supportive of our position. We even sold some Friends of Farmers Union memberships. Five percent of the purchase price of all goods sold on that day went to our Educational and Charitable Foundation. Most importantly, we educated consumers about the role of our organization in promoting food safety and choice.
My challenge to you is to get involved in activities like this and others to make the family farm and ranch real and credible to the urban public. Just as we stress the importance of youth education, this in many aspects is equally important. We have spoken to urban legislators, but I also believe it is just as essential to tell our story to the urban consumer. They need to know about the role family farmers and ranchers play in providing safe, abundant and affordable food.
Lastly, they really need to understand that it takes a profitable operation to make that happen. This is the one thing that all of us in production agriculture can agree on anywhere, anytime.