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National, state leaders address RMFU convention

AURORA—Kicking off Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s (RMFU) 94th Annual Convention Nov. 22, was Aurora-based National Farmers Union (NFU) President Dave Frederickson, who has been in office just nine months.

“The 2002 farm bill has its shortcomings, but it also has some provisions that are very important for family farmers and ranchers,” Frederickson said. “It raised the commodity loan rate levels for the first time in more than 20 years, implemented counter-cyclical payments to help producers when commodity prices are low, and requires country-of-origin labeling on fresh meat, produce and honey.”

“I want you to know that these and other farmer-friendly provisions in the new farm bill started years ago as Farmers Union representatives in Washington participated in hearings on problems with the ‘freedom to farm’ policies and how farm law might be revamped to change these failed policies,” Frederickson told the RMFU convention. Looking ahead, Frederickson said that international trade and trade policy would be high on the priority list for NFU in 2003. He also applauded RMFU and other Farmers Union organizations for their work in cooperatives. “Farmers Union is looked upon as a leader in cooperative development,” he said.

Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, a fifth generation Colorado farmer and rancher, discussed Colorado water policies with the group. He responded to the expectation that as many as 90 different laws dealing with water are expected to be introduced in the 2003 Colorado Legislative Session.

“It is important that the water needs of agriculture are not forgotten,” Salazar said. “We ought to be concerned about drying up agricultural lands in order to sell water to the highest bidder.”

Salazar urged RMFU members to keep rural representation on the Colorado Water Conservancy Board and to push for initiatives that improve water storage capacity.

RMFU, which has a membership of 22,000, in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, holds an annual convention to adopt a policy program for the coming year, to elect board members and officers, and to conduct other business necessary to the operation of the organization.