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New leadership team for RMFU

PUEBLO—Delegates to Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s (RMFU) 93rd annual convention, Nov. 16-17, elected John Stencel, Parker, Colo., as president, and Paul Stout, Broadview, N.M., as vice president.

“I am honored that you have entrusted me with your vote. Rest assured that I will work tirelessly to be an effective advocate for family farmers and ranchers,” Stencel told the convention in his acceptance speech. “However, I must tell you that I need your knowledge, your enthusiasm and your involvement if we are to accomplish the goals we have laid out during this convention.”

Stencel’s national and organizational priorities are a better farm bill, enhancement of the RMFU Cooperative Development Center, renewable energy projects, greater competition in agricultural markets and rectification of inequities in current trade agreements. He will have an opportunity to work on many of these priorities when he joins the National Farmers Union board for a planning meeting and lobbying in Washington, D.C., the week after Thanksgiving. At the state level, Stencel will be supporting an aggressive legislative agenda, including specific initiatives at the upcoming Colorado Legislative Session. These initiatives include: requiring state institutions to buy Colorado products when financially feasible, better and more reasonably-priced rural health care options, country-of-origin food labeling, continuation of a state organic standards program, and incorporation of farmers markets into the Women, Infants and Children’s feeding program.

Stencel is no newcomer to Washington, D.C. Following 23 years as president of RMFU, he left his post in 1993 for an appointment as executive director of Colorado’s U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. He was then asked to serve in Washington, D.C., first as FSA deputy administrator of program delivery and field operations and later as special assistant to the administrator of the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration.

Stout, a third generation wheat and grain sorghum farmer from near Clovis, N.M., won a three-way race for vice president.

“I look forward to working with all members to build Farmers Union,” Stout said. “Better prices for commodities is the most important issue facing family producers today. We must work legislatively and through cooperatives to improve the bottom line.”

RMFU incumbent board members Charles Klaseen, Crawford, Colo., and Elwin Poe, Holyoke, Colo., were re-elected, along with new board member Ken Macy, Pine Bluffs, Wyo. In addition, Jan Kochis, Matheson, Colo., was elected RMUF board chair and Richard Wolf, Ault, Colo., was elected vice chair.