Mark Watne of Velva was reelected to a seventh year as North Dakota Farmers Union president by more than 600 members attending the organization’s 93rd annual state convention this past weekend, Dec. 13-14, in Bismarck.

“I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve the forward-thinking members of North Dakota Farmers Union,” said Watne. “Even in these times of economic challenge, we find ways to work for solutions.” Bob Kuylen of South Heart was reelected vice president.

A mix of educational speakers, youth achievement recognition, policy debate and entertainment highlighted the convention, as well as Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company’s annual meeting. Of special importance were two special orders of business adopted by NDFU members.

The first called on Congress and the Administration to ensure future ad hoc payments, such as Market Facilitation Program payments, account for direct and indirect impacts of trade wars on all commodities, and account for basis costs as well. The second order calls on Congress to enact legislation to strengthen antitrust laws, reverse the trend of agribusiness consolidation, and protect family farmers and ranchers from abuses of market power.

In other elections, Jon Iverson of Langdon joins the organization’s board of directors, replacing Terry Borstad of Devils Lake, who did not seek reelection. Borstad served on the state board for 18 years. Iverson will represent members from District 1, encompassing the counties of Benson, Cavalier, Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, Ramsey, Towner and Walsh. Tyler Stafslien of Makoti was reelected to the District 3 seat. That district encompasses the counties of Burke, Divide, Mountrail, Renville and Williams. Wes Niederman Jr. of Elgin was reelected to the District 5 seat. District 5 comprises a nine-county area: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux. Ronda Throener of Cogswell was reelected to represent NDFU members in District 7. The district encompasses the counties of Barnes, Cass, Griggs, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill.

Members also elected delegates to represent North Dakota at the National Farmers Union Convention, which will be held March 1-3 in Savannah, Ga. They include:

ALAMO – Devin Jacobson. ASHLEY – Polly Ulrich. BEACH – David Ekre. BINFORD – Ron Halvorson. CENTER – Dave Berger. COGSWELL – Joseph Throener. CRARY – Adam Leiphon. DAZEY – Justin Sherlock. DEVILS LAKE – Terry Borstad, Mary Borstad. DOUGLAS – Bob Finken, De Anne Finken. DRAKE – Mary Blumhagen. EDGELEY – Richard Schlosser; GLADSTONE – Jon Pierce, Lenci Sickler. GRAND FORKS – Jeanna Smaaladen. GRANVILLE – Kendra Larsen, Kyle Larsen. JAMESTOWN – Lori Carlson, Roy Musland; JUD – Alan Bergman; MCCLUSKY – Eden McLeod. MENOKEN – Karen Kershaw. MOTT – Jan Ottmar. NEW SALEM – Joanne Beckman. PAGE – Brad McKay. REGENT – Curtis Wax. SHARON – Ben Vig. ST. ANTHONY – Steve Tomac. SELZ – Adam Held. SHERWOOD – Ben Ethen, Lacey Ethen, Steve Keith. TIOGA – Patty Jensen. TOLNA – Sheila Rude. TOWNER – Ryan Taylor. VALLEY CITY – Bob Bruns. WILLISTON – Kurt Andre.

Keynote and convention speakers included Jay Debertin, CHS president & CEO; Roger Johnson, NFU president; Tom Halverson, CoBank president & CEO; U.S. Sen. John Hoeven; Josh Kramer, N.D. Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives CEO/general manager; Dan Hildebrandt, CEO of Farmers Union Industries; and Frayne Olson, NDSU crop economist.

Closing out the convention was the Torchbearer Award ceremony, where 20 youths earned the highest honor that can be achieved in the Farmers Union youth program. Recipients (listed by county) include:

BARNES – Benton Murray, Valley City. BENSON – Jacob Arnold, Esmond. CASS – Koral Salisbury, Horace. CAVALIER – Marcus Iverson, Langdon. EDDY – Garret Schuster, New Rockford. EMMONS – Haley Hase and Bailey Hulm, both of Linton.HETTINGER – Autumn Geerts, Mott. LAMOURE – Jakkia Duffy, LaMoure; Kevonna Isakson, Litchville. LOGAN – Kourtney Bitz, Kylee Bitz, both of Wishek. MORTON – Teresa Westberg, St. Anthony. SARGENT – Joseph Throener, Cogswell. STUTSMAN – Zebedee Willer, Jamestown.TRAILL – Chase Fossum, Hillsboro. WARD – Hailee Miller, Sawyer. WILLIAMS – Taylor Barman, Danika Knox, Lydia Oster, all of Ray.