MN Farmers Union applauds passage of Rural Finance Authority Legislation

Rural Finance Authority

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is shown here signing legislation to fund the Rural Finance Authority, a vital tool to helping farmers get access to the credit they need every year to produce their commodities. (photo contributed by MFU)

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) applauds the signing today by Governor Mark Dayton of legislation to fund the Rural Finance Authority (RFA). The RFA is a vital tool that helps farmers secure funding for various types of loans, including restructured loans, beginning farmers, and farm improvement loans.

MFU appreciates the efforts of the chief authors Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) and Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) as well as many legislators from both sides of the aisle. MFU is pleased that so many state legislators recognized the need to expedite funding for the RFA, which has lacked funding since December 31st, 2016. That has left the RFA unable to process loans.

Rural Finance Authority

Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish talks about the reauthorization of funding for the Rural Finance Authority, signed into law by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. (contributed photo from MFU)

MFU President Gary Wertish, also a member of the RFA Board, says “This legislation comes at an important time when farmers are making decisions for the 2017 planting season. This legislation gives farmers a good option to access credit.”

The RFA partners with local banks in lending on the programs they have.
MFU encourages farmers to take another look at the RFA (which is run by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture) and its menu of loans now that the bill has passed. The information can be found at: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/agfinance or by calling 651-201-6556.

Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Fighting for Farmers (www.mfu.org).

Wertish elected MN Farmers Union President

Gary Wertish, MN Farmers Union PresidentCongratulations to Renville County, Minnesota farmers Gary Wertish, just elected as the new President of the Minnesota Farmers Union. A well-deserved honor. I spent several years as Farm Director at KLGR radio in Redwood Falls and saw on a first-hand basis that Gary tirelessly worked for farmers. He’ll do a fantastic job as the new President, taking over for the retired Doug Peterson.

Gary Wertish, MN Farmers Union President

Gary Wertish was elected as the new Minnesota Farmers Union President during a special election on Saturday, January 21. He replaces the recently retired Doug Peterson as the head of the organization. (photo from myklgr.com)

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held a special election on Saturday, January 21, 2017 to elect a new President.

Former MFU Vice President, Gary Wertish was elected by Minnesota Farmers Union board members on Saturday to be the 10th President of Minnesota Farmers Union.

Gary has served as the Vice President of Minnesota Farmers Union since 2009, and has filled in as interim President since Peterson’s retirement.
Prior to being elected as Vice President, Gary had worked as a field representative for Farmers Union. Gary has also worked for then-Senator Mark Dayton as his Agricultural Director. He farms with one of his sons, raising corn, soybeans, and navy beans.

“Today marks a new era within the Farmers Union organization. Being elected as the new President is humbling” remarked Gary Wertish “I look forward to continue working with entire Farmers Union membership, along with other agricultural groups to enhance the economic interests of a struggling rural economy, which is just as important now as it ever has been. We will work to keep our momentum flowing and to bring new ideas to the table that will help us reach new goals within the organization, and to continue fighting and representing family farmers.”
Gary is married to his wife, Jeanne; together they have four children and live in Renville, MN.

Farm Bureau President Duvall Talks Ag Issues

The 98th American Farm Bureau annual convention is going on this week in Phoenix, Arizona. Once a year, Farm Bureau members come together in one location to learn and talk about the future of agriculture. Farm Bureau voting delegates will also debate policy and put together the Farm Bureau policy platform on important Ag issues for the coming year.

Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall talks Ag issues

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall addresses reporters during a press conference at the 98th Farm Bureau annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona. (photo from oklahomafarmreport.com)

Farm Bureau President and Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall spoke to reporters on Sunday during a press conference in Phoenix, tackling several issues important to agriculture. One of the first questions dealt with the lengthy search for the next Secretary of Agriculture. Duvall wanted the candidate selected a little quicker, although he seems encouraged by the fact that the Trump team has interviewed a good number of excellent candidates. What happens if the President-elect would happen to pick someone who doesn’t have an extensive Ag background?

“At this point, I’m not worried,” Duvall said, “I have full faith in the new president picking the right person. He’s looked at many different people, a lot more than we expected him to look at. We just think he’s doing a thorough review.”

 

 

As far as the reason it’s taken so long? Duvall said he honestly isn’t sure and anything he would add is speculation. “I’m honestly not sure whether he’s had people who just weren’t interested,” Duvall said, “or whether he’s had so many good candidates he can’t really pick which one he wants.”

 

 

 

One of Trump’s main talking points in the campaign was building a wall along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico to help control illegal immigration. A good number of those same immigrants are vital to agriculture getting its work done every year. Immigration will be one of the biggest ag issues the Farm Bureau will keep an eye on in 2017. Duvall is hoping some kind of compromise on immigration can be reached so agriculture isn’t short on labor, especially at harvest time.

 

“If you look at the increase in H2A applications over the last few years,” Duvall said, “we’ve had a tremendous increase in that area. The demand for workers is there and we also know that the American people aren’t going to do that work, otherwise, they already would have started.”

 

 

 

He adds, “We want to give them an opportunity to stay here and work. It comes down to a moral and a safety issue. Their families are here and we have to do the right thing.”

 

 

 

Trade will be another of the biggest ag issues to keep an eye on this year. One of the biggest concerns agriculture has with the incoming president is his stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade agreements in general. Duvall says after talking with the Trump team, the President-elect has a better understanding of how important trade is to agriculture.

 

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to sit down with the Trump team and talk about the workings of a trade treaty that is friendly to agriculture,” Duvall said. “My discussions with the Trump team before the election went like this: ‘we’re concerned about Mr. Trump’s opinion on trade.’ That’s what we told them. He seems to be negative on trade  and agriculture is very dependent on it for up to 30% of our income.”

 

 

 

“This won’t be the first time a new president appeared to put us (Ag) at risk,” Duvall added. “Yes, we are nervous about that (trade wars). We do want America to stand up and have a backbone, but you have to be really careful about how you do that because you could destroy our industry if you don’t do it right.”

 

He added, “We’re there at the table trying to have those conversations.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wertish named interim president of MN Farmers Union

Interim president

Minnesota Farmers Union Vice President Gary Wertish was named in the interim President of the organization until a special election on January 21 to fill the last two years of retiring president Doug Peterson’s current term

Effective Monday January 2nd, 2017, Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) will be led on an interim basis by Gary Wertish, who previously served as the organization’s Vice- President. Wertish, a Renville County farmer, replaces Doug Peterson who retired December 31st and served as MFU President for the past 14 years. Wertish has long been active in public farm policy and MFU, having served as the organizations Vice-President for the past 5 years.

 
“MFU is focused right now on the beginning of the Minnesota Legislative session and working with the new administration in Washington D.C., as well as our members of Congress” said Wertish, the newly named interim president. “I look forward to working with lawmakers to address health care, taxes and other issues to help our farmers, who face a challenging farm economy.”

 
Wertish will serve as interim president until a special election will be held Saturday January 21st, 2017 at the Minnesota Farmers Union office, where MFU County Presidents from around the state will vote on filling the remaining year on Peterson’s two year term. Wertish has filed for the Presidential election, as have Harmon Wilts, long time member and secretary of Swift County, former Senator Lyle Koenen of Chippewa County, and former Senator Vicki Jensen of Steele County.

MN DNR Releases Updated Buffer Map

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) released the updated Minnesota buffer map this month. The update is based on comments and change requests from landowners and drainage authorities in order to ensure the map accurately shows where buffers are needed.

Buffer map update released

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its most up to date buffer map. The DNR has also updated its buffer application as well. (photo from bwsr.state.mn.us)

645 changes were made in the most recent update. Since the preliminary buffer map was released in March 2016, the MN DNR has received more than 3,400 comments or change requests and has made nearly 2,100 map updates.

We strongly suggest members to view the interactive map found at the link provided below. This interactive map allows you to find specific buffer requirements for waterways in precise areas. To suggest a correction to the buffer map, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCDs are able to work directly with landowners on these issues. The next updated Minnesota buffer map is set to be released in early 2017.

The MN DNR has also updated the buffer map application. The application is a web-based mapping tool for soil and water conservation districts, drainage authorities and local governments to review the buffer map, suggest corrections and see MN DNR review decisions. The updated application provides soil and water conservation districts and drainage authorities with an easy way to submit map change requests and other comments.

Here is the link:

http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/

This is an overview of the Minnesota buffer law if you’re looking for a refresher on the topic.

Farm Bureau Opposes Speed Limiters Proposal

Speed limitersThe United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to require speed limiters for large commercial vehicles doesn’t account for the fact that many commercial vehicles often cover hundreds of miles on open roads with few other vehicles around. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)  recently submitted comments on the idea, saying the proposed rule would pass on significant costs to farmers and ranchers who only use heavier trucks seasonally.

Speed Limiters

The US Transportation Department is proposing the addition of speed limiters on vehicles with a gross weight greater than 26,000 pounds, which would mean more costs to farmers who only use those larger vehicles seasonally. (Photo from truckernews.com)

The proposed rule was put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and DOT. The new rule would require vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device. It would be set to a speed to be specified when the final rule comes out. It would require motor carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce to maintain functional speed limiting devices at all times.

The AFBF says speed limits should not be arbitrarily established by federal rule. Instead, it should be based on conditions in the area in which it’s posted.

“The proposal ignores the fact that many commercial vehicles often operate for hundreds of miles without much interaction with other traffic. There is no clear rationale in the rule for suggesting a truck traveling in a rural setting with minimal traffic should have the same top speed as a truck traveling in a large city,” said AFBF.

The organization also points out that the proposal would be too costly for farmers and ranchers who use large trucks only during certain times of the year.

“If adopted, the rule would pass on significant costs to our members who do not operate as commercial motor vehicle enterprises but only utilize heavier trucks seasonally. These costs would impact an industry that is currently struggling to make ends meet with the recent downturn in the farm economy,” said AFBF.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Outlines Policy for 2017

Farm Bureau policy

Voting delegates discuss and establish policy positions for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation at their recent annual meeting in the Twin Cities. Farm Bureau will work on these policy priorities during the coming year. (photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau/page1)

Voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 98th Annual meeting adopted policy positions for 2017. Based on these actions, the MFBF Board of

Directors have provided focus for the organization on public policy, image and leadership including food, health insurance, water, transportation, and taxes.

 Food

Minnesota farmers and ranchers are committed to providing access to sustainable, safe, healthy food choices. Farmers work to continuously improve production methods, techniques and technologies. Farmers demonstrate their commitment to care for their livestock, manage and improve the quality of their environment and enhance the quality and accessibility of food and fiber they produce utilizing different production methods.

 

Health Insurance

The affordability and availability of health insurance is a significant concern for Minnesota farm families and small businesses. MFBF will work towards finding solutions addressing both increases in premiums and lack of availability to individual health insurance options.

Farm Bureau policy

Farm Bureau Public Policy Associate Cole Rupprecht gives Farm Bureau members an update on the 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session. (photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau/page1)

 

Water

Water quality and quantity are top priorities for Minnesota farm families. Agriculture’s role in improving water quality can best be fulfilled through voluntary site-specific actions at the local level.

 

Transportation

MFBF will continue efforts to address Minnesota transportation infrastructure needs, especially rural roads and bridges. It is critical that products are able to be moved efficiently by river, rail and road.

 

Taxes

MFBF will continue efforts to work on education funding issues especially as it relates to improvements or construction of school buildings.

 

Minnesota Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state representing Farmers • Families • Food. Members determine policy through a grassroots process involving the Farm Bureau members in 78 county Farm Bureau units in a formal, democratic process. Through this process, members make their views heard to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public.

Programs for Young Farmers & Ranchers help develop leadership abilities and improve farm management. Promotion & Education Committee members work with programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, and safety education for farm children.

Farm Bureau is active in a variety of other programs and activities. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office.

For more information on Minnesota Farm Bureau go to fbmn.org. For pictures of the Annual Meeting log onto www.flicker.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau.

Farmers Union state convention wraps up

Farmers Union State Convention in Minneapolis

Attendees of the Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention socialize during the Saturday night banquet at the 75th annual convention in Minneapolis. (photo from https://www.facebook.com/mnfarmersunion)

The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held its 75th annual state convention on Saturday November 19 and Sunday November 20, 2016.  The grassroots organization took to the floor several key issues that are important to the family farmers of Minnesota.  The realigned policy will set forth a strong agenda for the organization in the upcoming legislative year.

President Doug Peterson expressed gratitude and honor for being able to serve as the state president of the organization for 14 years. “I have spent the majority of my live fighting for the family farmer and the last 14 years being the voice for the members of the Minnesota Farmers Union, the fight will never end for me, I will always be a farmer and I will continue to be a part of Farmers Union. The support and respect the members of this organization have for the life on the farm and for each other is something I can’t imagine being away from.”

farmers union state convention

Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson and wife Elly enjoying the activities at the 75th annual state convention. Doug recently announced he’ll be stepping down at the end of the year after 14 years in the top chair. (photo from Facebook.com/mnfarmersunion)

“Minnesota Farmers Union is a grassroots organization that truly listens to the members and they create the policy that we work by.” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Every voice has the chance to be heard every day within our organization, and our annual convention offers the perfect platform for these discussions.”

The MFU delegates debated special orders of business addressing the concerns with the upcoming Farm Bill, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Health Care. Delegates went through the Minnesota Farmers Union policy and set the groundwork for the legislative lobbying on behalf of family farmers that will take place in 2017 by Minnesota Farmers Union.

During the convention, speakers included: Senator Amy Klobuchar; Senator Al Franken; Dave Frederickson, Department of Agriculture Commissioner; Lt Governor Tina Smith; Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President; Representative Collin Peterson; Tim Rudnicki with MN BioFuels; and Jim Ennis with Catholic Rural Life.

Several awards were given out at the banquet Saturday night including: Markell Vogt, Dedicated Service Award; Dustin Hoffmann, Ag Communicator of the year award; Gene Paul, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Doug Peterson, Dedicated Service to Agriculture Award.

During our annual Farmers Union Foundation Live Auction, we were able to collect over $5600 for the FFA Blue Jackets Program.  Thank you to the 43 members who donated to this program, it is a great way to help support young people who will are exposed to and are encouraged to become involved in agriculture.  Minnesota Farmers Union annually supports this program by purchasing 30 blue jackets. In 2016 MFU increased their donation to 40.  With the collection on Saturday evening another 76 blue jackets will be purchased!

Delegates were chosen to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union convention which will be held March 5-8, 2017 in San Diego, CA.

Farmers Union Convention pictures 

Wondering what Farmers Union is all about? Check out the 2015 Year in Review video:

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders at 98th Annual Meeting

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Awards Banquet on Friday night at the 98th Annual Meeting was focused on recognizing agricultural leaders from around the state who’ve give a lot of their time and talents to the organization. The awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Booming included both individual and county honors in many different categories.

Agricultural Leaders in Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture award is presented annually to outstanding agricultural leaders in Minnesota. This is one of the most prestigious awards given out by the Minnesota farm Bureau. This year’s award recipients are Dr. Bill Hartman – who recently retired as the Minnesota Board of Animal Health state veterinarian, and William Nelson, who recently retired as the CHS Foundation president. 

Honorary Life awards given to lifelong members who have given enormous amounts of their time and talents to Farm Bureau. Minnesota Farm Bureau is truly grateful for all the dedication that its members give to our organization. This year’s Honorary Life award recipients are Rozetta and George Hallcock of Randolph in Dakota County, Burton Horsch of Howard Lake in Wright County and Harley and Joan Vogel of New Ulm in Brown County.

 

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented awards in the following areas:

The Ag Communicator of the Year award is presented to an outstanding leader in the field of communications. This year the award is given to Jerry Groskreutz of KDHL in Faribault.

 

The Extension Educator of the Year award is given to an educator who gives his/her time to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau. This year the award was presented to Troy Salzer who serves Northwestern Minnesota.

 

The FFA Advisor of the Year award is presented to the FFA Advisor who has exemplified outstanding service to educating youth about agriculture. This year the award goes to Nathan Purrington, who previously worked at Ada High school and currently works at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.

 

The Post-Secondary Agricultural Educator of the Year award recognizes educators who support production agriculture. This year the award goes to Jennifer Smith who works at Riverland Community College in Austin.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented four $500 Al Christopherson Scholarships. Recipients are college juniors or seniors or in their final year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Rebekah Aanerud from Stevens County, daughter of Andy and Heather Aanerud; Ethan Dado of Amery, Wisconsin, son of Rick and Gwen Dado; Mariah Daninger of Washington-Ramsey County, daughter of Pat and Sharlene Daninger; and Megan Stevens of Chippewa County, daughter of Marc and Janet Stevens.

 

The Foundation also gave out two $500 Paul Stark Scholarships. Recipients are in their freshman or sophomore year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Abbey Weninger of Wright County, daughter of James and Lisa Weninger, and Andrew Gathje of Olmsted County, son of Paul and Nora Gathje.

 

The most prestigious county Farm Bureau award, the Counties Activities of Excellence was presented five key areas – Public Policy, Public Relations, Promotion & Education, Leadership Development and Membership Activity.

 

In the county membership group with less than 200 members, the awards were presented to Mahnomen County – for Public Policy, Leadership Development and Membership Activity; Cass County –  for Public Relations; and Aitkin/Carlton County – Promotion & Education.

 

In the group of counties with 201-450 members, the awards went to Stevens County – for Public Policy, LeSueur County – for Public Relations, Anoka County – for Promotion & Education, Traverse County – for Leadership Development, and Douglas County for Membership Activity. 

 

In the group of counties with more than 451 members, the award went to Houston County –  for Public Policy, Meeker County – for Public Relations, Brown County – for Promotion & Education, Olmsted – for Leadership Development, and Wright County – for Membership Activity.

 

The MFBF 98th Annual Meeting concludes Saturday, November 18 with the announcement of the Young Farmers & Ranchers awards.

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For more information on Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org.

Glessing re-elected Minnesota Farm Bureau Vice President

Minnesota Farm Bureau County voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 98th Annual Meeting re-elected Dan Glessing to a two-year term as Vice-President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. The election was held November 18 during the delegate session in Bloomington.

 Glessing and his wife, Seena, farm in partnership with his father. They have dairy cattle and grow alfalfa, corn and soybeans. Dan and Seena have three sons and one daughter.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Vice President

Dan Glessing was re-elected to a two-year term as Vice President of the Minnesota farm Bureau Federation at this year’s 98th annual meeting in Bloomington. (photo from fbmn.org)

 “I am honored and humbled to serve as vice president,” said MFBF Vice President Dan Glessing. “One of Farm Bureau’s greatest strengths is our grassroots structure and policy development process which is well respected amongst our elected and appointed officials. We will continue to strengthen our relationships with officials. The goal is to have them come to us when they have a question about agriculture. Our Young Farmers & Ranchers and Promotion & Education programs will continue to engage consumers in conversations to increase the understanding of today’s farming.”Bob Roelofs of Garden City in Blue Earth County, representing District II, was re-elected. Fran Miron from Hugo in Washington-Ramsey County, representing District V, was also re-elected. Both will serve two-year terms.

 Promotion & Education Committee chair Debra Durheim from Long Prairie in Todd County was elected to a one-year term on the Board of Directors. Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee chair Pam Uhlenkamp from Green Isle in Sibley County was also elected to the Farm Bureau Board of Directors on a one-year term.

 Minnesota Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state focusing on Farmers • Families • Food. More than 30,000 Farm Bureau family members. help to determine policy through a grassroots process involving the Farm Bureau members in 78 county and regional Farm Bureau units in a formal, democratic process. This process helps members make their views heard to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for Young Farmers & Ranchers help members develop leadership abilities and improve farm management. Promotion & Education committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for farm children. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office.

For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org.