Elections come and go, but the hard work of self-government in a democracy never ends. Most people think that Election Day ends their participation in the democratic process. Really, it is only the beginning of the process. We now have the responsibility to hold our elected officials to the promises they made during the campaign, and we need to communicate our opinions to our representatives as part of that process.

Democracy is a great system of government. It gives the citizens of our country the opportunity to speak by voting for the candidate of their choice. Elections draw our attention to opportunities and challenges we face as a nation. For many, it is a time to really focus on government and its effectiveness.

The members of North Dakota Farmers Union participate in democracy in many ways. Some directly contact elected officials; some take leadership roles; some volunteer; and some guide our organization through policy development.

The primary reason for a farm organization to exist is to advocate for its members. The member’s responsibility is to participate and ensure that the farm organization represents their interests. North Dakota Farmers Union, through education, legislation and cooperation, works to support our membership.

North Dakota Farmers Union has a great process to ensure its policies and its advocacy work represents the members who participate. Each member, each local, each cooperative, and each county can submit concepts and ideas to our organization. Those ideas and concepts are voted on and adopted by the majority of the membership at our annual meeting. We encourage members to attend the convention in Bismarck on December 9-10 (see details at ndfu.org).

It is hard to prioritize our advocacy work, but we are working in a number of areas to enhance family farm and ranch agriculture. Farm and ranch income and farm programs are always a top priority. Cooperatives and cooperative education will always be important tools to help our members succeed. Legislatively, we work on fair trade, renewable fuels, common sense regulations, crop insurance, and tax policy.  Our youth education program teaches citizenship and leadership skills, in addition to providing education on cooperatives. We are expanding our outreach to consumers, providing education on food production and the value of family farm and ranch agriculture. And we are part of a restaurant system that connects consumers to United States family farm produced food.

North Dakota Farmers Union participates in many value-added projects, as well. We support research both in the public and private sectors.

I believe your farm organization represents you well. It is your responsibility to ensure we fight for the policies you support. It is also your responsibility to carry our messages to elected officials.

I hope to see many of you at our state convention in December and look forward to visiting with each of you as we carry out the work of Farmers Union together.

– NDFU President Mark Watne