What happened at the US NFU Convention last week?

The US National Farmers Union enacted new policy positions and voiced support for American faming and ranching families at its 119th Convention last week.
calendar icon 7 March 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

For the first time in the organisation’s history, the event was held entirely online – a fact that did not go unnoticed by the more than 500 family farmers and ranchers who attended. Before policy consideration, delegates to the convention approved a proclamation, written by NFU honorary historian Tom Giessel, acknowledging the unusual circumstances and highlighting “our collective sense of place.”

Delegates also adopted an amendment to the organisation’s bylaws that will require delegates to future national conventions to be actively engaged in farming or ranching. Furthermore, they finalised the NFU Policy Book and several special orders of business which will guide its government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, especially as they relate to pandemic recovery, competition in agricultural markets, and climate change.

“Between the pandemic, natural disasters, and deep political division, the last year has tested all of us,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “But tough times are something this organisation and its members know well – and every time we encounter a stumbling block, we respond quickly and constructively to find solutions, which is the essence of our grassroots policy-making process. Whatever difficulties we may be facing, Farmers Union members come together to reflect on how our food system can better serve farmers, consumers, rural communities, and the environment.”

Convention attendees heard remarks from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator John Boozman, Representative David Scott, and Representative Glenn Thompson. NFU President Rob Larew delivered his first State of the Farmers Union address, offering a reflection on an eventful first year in office and hopes for the organization’s future. Additionally, over the past several weeks, participants have had the opportunity to attend a series of ten educational sessions on variety of subjects, including rural mental health, diversity and inclusion in agriculture education, climate-focused economic development, and Farmers Union history. Videos of those webinars and this week’s sessions are available online.

“Though we’ve all confronted unexpected challenges since our last convention, there are reasons to feel optimistic about the future,” said Larew. “Most obviously, COVID-19 vaccine means that the end of the pandemic is in sight, giving us hope that we will be able to convene in person for our next convention. Beyond that, there is also ample evidence that legislators and consumers are getting behind our priorities, such as leveraging agriculture to mitigate climate change and reining in rampant corporate consolidation across the economy. So while this convention provides an important platform to discuss the hardships we’re experiencing, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate our shared passion for farming and look towards a stronger and more resilient future.”

In order to provide the national organisation a set of priorities for the coming year, 216 Farmers Union delegates approved four special orders of business:

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