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RMFU to kickoff convention in Pueblo, Colo.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) will begin its 97th annual convention, Nov. 18, 2005, at 8:00 a.m. at the Pueblo Convention Center, 110 West 1st St., Pueblo, Colo., with a keynote address from National Farmers Union (NFU) President Dave Fredrickson. The convention runs through Nov. 19 and is open to the public.

Friday programs include a Home Town Competitiveness Roundtable featuring: Bob Mailander, RMFU Co-op Development Center director, Clarke Becker, executive director of the Colorado Rural Development Council, and Darryl Birkenfeld, social ethicist, educator and farmer. There will be a Renewable Energy Panel with John Stulp of Prairie Wind, Lamar, Colo.; Jeff Berman, a feasibility planner with San Juan Biodiesel, San Juan County, Colo.; and, Jim Lenz with Sterling Ethanol, Sterling, Colo.

“Finding ways to make rural communities more attractive to businesses and young people, which will be discussed at the Home Town Competitiveness roundtable, is very important for rural communities that are fighting to keep their towns and business afloat,” said RMFU President John Stencel. “The renewable energy panel will cover some of the new programs available to cooperatives and individuals wishing to develop renewable energy production and distribution enterprises and should be of great interest in this time of rising energy costs.”

Friday will also include a Farm Bill Roundtable moderated by Tom Buis, NFU vice president government relations and features Grant Leslie, office of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.; Shane Schultz, office of U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo.; and, Jace Ratzlaff, office of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo. Saturday will feature a Water Panel moderated by Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament and will include Stephen Saunders, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Lawrence McDonnell, a water attorney and former director of the Natural Resource Institute, University of Colorado at Boulder’s School of Law.

“We are glad to feature panel discussions from experts on water and the farm bill, two areas that will have tremendous impact on the viability of family farm and ranch agriculture,” Stencel said.

Stencel will present his annual report to the membership. In addition, Cenex Harvest States board member Bob Elliot and Dr. Marc Johnson, dean of agriculture from Colorado State University will address convention goers. At the awards luncheon Friday, RMFU will recognize Colorado House Majority Leader Andrew Romanoff as its Legislator of the Year. Also to be recognized for excellence in agricultural news media are Sandra Hansen of the Torrington (Wyoming) Telegraph and Jeanette Larsen, formerly of the Ag Journal, LaJunta, Colo.

Convention delegates will decide organizational business, including the adoption of policy that will guide RMFU board and staff over the coming 12 months; election of a vice president and two board directors; and, election of delegates to National Farmers Union’s annual convention. The convention also will feature speeches from RMFU’s 2005 speech contest winners and presentations by members of the RMFU 2006 Senior Youth Advisory Council.

Saturday night will feature entertainment by Rep. Wes McKinley, Dist 64, Colo., and the Pueblo-based band, Midnight Rain.