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Taking care of business in Orlando

During National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 105th annual convention, just concluded in Orlando, Fla., before an audience of more than 500 family farmers and ranchers, John Stencel, Rocky Mountain’s Farmers Union’s (RMFU) former president, was presented with the Meritorious Service Award for Service to Farmers Union and to American Agriculture.

“It’s a proud day for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and our admired leader, John Stencel,” said Kent Peppler, president, RMFU.

As well, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the audience that this month’s House Appropriations supplemental bill will include disaster relief for agriculture producers. “Nancy Pelosi is a refreshing voice for agriculture,” said Elwin Poe, board delegate to the NFU convention.

“I was impressed with the attendance of Speaker of the House at the opening banquet as the keynote speaker,” said Jan Kochis, RMFU chairperson. “She appears to be an advocate for Farmers Union’s philosophy and I look forward to seeing her stand by her word.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr told the family farm and ranch crowd, “Renewable energy is the game-changer and farmers and ranchers are the owners of the raw materials. We hold our own future in our own hands.”

The Under Secretary commended NFU for “taking an innovative look at agriculture and addressing the changes and opportunities.” Poe commented, “Carbon credits sounds like what farmers do everyday and for being good stewards of the soil we may be paid.”

“I am impressed with the stress on alternative fuels and energy,” said Cecil Crowe, delegate from Blanca, Colo. “Also the carbon credit explanations were helpful.”

“I learned about the benefits of wind energy,” said Marje Zavorka, delegate from Torrington, Wyo. “It helps retain family farms and is environmentally safe and a farmer can farm right up to the turbine.”

In an address to the attendees, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said this farm bill will be written in an open process through the agriculture committee. “That’s how we do things in Minnesota and that’s how we should do it in the rest of the country,” Peterson said. “This farm bill will be written for farmers, not agri-business.”

Kent Peppler, RMFU president said, “I am glad to have so many focused on the farm bill. It is getting the attention it needs.” NFU is encouraging Congress to establish farm programs that return profitability and economic opportunity to production agriculture and rural communities. A counter-cyclical safety net, farmer-owned strategic renewable energy reserve and a permanent disaster program are just three of the provisions the group will be advocating.

Other comments from members of the RMFU delegation to Orlando included John Ellis’s, Boulder, Colo., observation, “This being my first National convention has been both interesting and educational. As with most events like this, about half the information came from speakers and the rest from other members from around the country. It is well worth the time, effort and money.”

Barb Marty, Henderson, Colo., RMFU board member, added, “I am proud to be a member of an organization that represents independent thinkers; producers who have had to make choices on tough issues; and, people who represent America at its best. I am hoping this tradition of independent thinking does not get lost.”

Pictured in back row from left: Barb Marty, Henderson, Colo.; Joe and Marge Zavorka, Torrington, Wyo.; Charles Petty, Clovis, N.M.; Betty and Charles Klaseen, Crawford, Colo.; John Ellis, Boulder, Colo.; Jan Kochis, Matheson, Colo.; Kent Peppler, Meade, Colo.; Todd Hagenbuch, Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Armando Valdez, LaJara, Colo.; Trent Lauridson, Ft. Collins, Colo.; Michael Gardner, Pine Bluffs, Wyo. Front row: Leland Swenson, Centennial, Colo.; Marty Brophy, Eckley, Colo.; Dorys Fehringer, Peetz, Colo.; Cecil Crowe, Blanca, Colo.; Cleta Felzien, Limon, Colo. Among a few other attendees not pictured is delegate Elwin Poe,Holyoke, Colo. Photo by Lynn Eschbach.

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