We are experiencing a new lifestyle with COVID-19. It has allowed time to reflect on what makes our organization successful. I am proud to say it is our commitment to the success of many, rather than a few, that sets us apart from most organizations.

Our approach to issues opens endless doors for opportunities to say or give necessary input into the direction of our country. Many people believe we focus on partisan issues, but that is so far from true it is almost laughable. We focus on the policies our members support. We are grassroots.

In the past year, Farmers Union has been asked to advise on numerous issues as we face trying times in agriculture and beyond. There is no specific political party that is requesting this from us. It is simply leadership asking us for ideas, input and concepts to hopefully overcome the challenges we face.

We have been approached by USDA, senators, representatives, state governments and campaigns from both sides of the aisle. This reflects back on my earlier comment that encouraging the success of many, rather than a few, has positioned us to be a respected advisor.

A strategy that I have always had, since given the privilege to serve this organization, is that we will explore all options and open doors to achieve the mission of our organization. Our staff is told to never miss an opportunity to express the views of North Dakota Farmers Union. We allow our staff to participate in the political process from local elections to federal elections. We encourage our members to become leaders and serve on local boards, both government and business. If you are not expressing our views every time you are given an opportunity, you are missing a chance to educate.

I am proud to say our leaders, staff and members are making a huge difference in each of our lives as we face current challenges. It is our structure and our commitment to society that will bring us back to the lifestyle we enjoy. Keep up the work and the faith that each of you carry and we will get through these challenges.

Remember to never shy away from an open door or a challenge. I promise that your organization will meet every challenge head on, and by doing so, we will continue to be an organization you can respect and expect to lead you into the future.

— NDFU President Mark Watne