March is typically the month for the National Farmers Union convention. This is a time when all states send delegates to develop policies that NFU will support in the upcoming year for family farms, ranches, cooperatives and rural communities.
Every year, I am amazed at the talented people North Dakota Farmers Union sends as delegates to represent the members of our organization. This year was no exception; our delegates were very effective in representing the policies our membership developed through our grassroots process.
Farmers Union’s grassroots policy system works well and is a model that all organizations should consider when determining their policy development path. It enables the leadership to not only know the desires of their members, but to feel comfortable that members will step up to support policies that are adopted.
At the NFU convention, we have representatives from a majority of states across the country. It is a very diverse group of family farmers and ranchers. There are times when we strongly debate the merits of each of our production methods and outside influences that directly impact our farms and ranches. This is a healthy process that reinforces our grassroots policy development. It is very refreshing that after the debate, we can leave the convention knowing we have done our best to represent the members of our various organizations.
NFU is an organization that is very inclusive. We do our best not to exclude any type of family farm or ranch. It does not matter if your farm is small or large, conventional or organic, minimal till or conventional till, GMO or non-GMO, or any other style. What does matter is that everyone operates a family farm or ranch. This system of agriculture has provided the United States with food security at a low cost and is the envy of the world. Efforts to dismantle our family farm system of agriculture will be effectively fought, as farmers know it is the best system of production with a proven track record.
Family farm agriculture is easily defined: A farm or ranch where ownership, operation and management are vested within the family who farms and makes a livelihood from that farm unit. Do not let those who have motivations beyond this great food system make it hard to define.
For those of you who are members of Farmers Union, you have an opportunity to participate in our grassroots policy development. In the case where you disagree with a policy, it is your responsibility to step up and find like-minded members to help change it. That is true grassroots in action.
–– NDFU President Mark Watne