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RMFU 94th annual convention wrap up

AURORA—Kicking off Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s (RMFU) 94th Annual Convention Nov. 22, 2002, 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 used the occasion of its annual convention to recognize individuals making outstanding contributions and/or performing exemplary work on behalf of RMFU’s family farmers and ranchers.

Dave Carter, of Westminster, Colo., was presented with RMFU Meritorious Service to Farmers Union Award during the banquet with well over 200 in attendance. Carter joined RMFU in 1978 as communications director, served as National Farmers Union secretary from 1987 to 1993, and was then elected president of RMFU, a position he held until 2001.

Among Carter’s accomplishments for RMFU are establishment of the RMFU Cooperative Development Center in 1995, greater marketing opportunities for organic producers and enhanced consumer-producers relationships.

“Dave has been and continues to be a knowledgeable and passionate spokesman for family farmers and ranchers and the rural communities they support,” said current RMFU President John Stencel.

Tributes for service were presented to Jean Coleman, wife of the recently deceased Charles Coleman, Wheatland, Wyo., who served as RMFU District III board member from 1990 to 2001. Coleman was a cattle rancher, journalist, school board member and county commissioner. He passed away Aug. 28, 2002, after battling cancer for several years.

Tom Lauridson, holder of a doctorate in plant physiology, was honored for his service as vice president of RMFU from 1999 to 2001. Lauridson has farmed on the family operation just east of Broomfield, Colo. He left farming last year to become a high school science teacher.

RMFU’s Legislator of the Year Award was presented to Colorado Sen. Jim Isgar for his support of legislation that is positive to family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. Among the initiatives receiving help from Isgar in 2002 are a bill authorizing the Colorado Department of Agriculture to certify Colorado’s agricultural producers. Without this authorization, Colorado organic producers would have to pay more and go out-of-state for their certification.

Lorrie Boyer, farm news reporter for KVAY in Lamar, Colo., received RMFU’s 2002 Excellence in News Media Award. Originally from Longmont, Colo., Boyer was chosen for her ability to help producers and consumers see how events and developments in other parts of the country or the globe affect them. At age 28, she is the youngest recipient of this award.

Lonie Hoffman, also of Lamar, Colo., was recognized as RMFU’s Agent of the Year. The award was given for her involvement in issues affecting farmers and ranchers, as well as for her willingness to work with RMFU.