North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) is a grassroots organization. This simply means we rely on members to define our mission, goals and policies. Further, we rely on members to organize and help us carry out our mission, goals and policies, which is the best aspect of NDFU and also the most challenging.

Serving as president encompasses many roles to sustain and grow Farmers Union. The key is to work toward balance among all our needs. This includes a focus on membership and leadership development, financial capacity, big picture success, ongoing education, cooperative development, legislative work, brand reputation, and always staying true to our roots.

I believe we are very successful in the areas listed above. However, success does not mean we idle along. It simply means we are tracking well, but will need to continuously strive to enhance our current strengths.

The last 18 months or so have allowed us to evaluate our organization and determine the areas that need further focus. We have addressed a few. We are working with counties to grow their participation level, we built a new youth camp to continue to grow our youth program, we continue to train leaders for the future, we have grown our financial assets to maintain our ability to operate, and we worked legislatively to address issues facing family farmers and ranchers.

While those accomplishments are great, we still face some challenges. In today’s world, people have become more reluctant to give of their time to organizations. Our busy lifestyles require much attention, and we believe someone else will do the work or our work is not valued. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Now is the time that we need even more participation. The need for a strong farm organization is essential to the future of family farms and ranches.

It would be easier if Farmers Union were a top-down organization or one with many members but not much activity. If that were the case, we would be much less effective or not effective at all. “Easy” is not in the mindset of our great organization.

We have a nation that is polarized due to partisan fighting, single issues, misinformation, and a lack of compromise. Our organization plays an important role in providing valid information and unbiased facts about agriculture. We maintain our nonpartisan approach to get work accomplished.

This president’s message is intended to encourage and remind you of the importance each of us plays in the success of NDFU. We need you now, more than ever, to step up and participate. Be a leader and attend events and meetings we host around the state. “Grassroots” means all members participate. Those who show up set the stage for the future. They help write the rules of society that we all live in. NDFU is your opportunity to participate and influence issues.

— NDFU President Mark Watne