National Farmers Union hosts annual convention

More than 500 National Farmers Union members from across the country recently gathered in Savannah, Georgia. for the organization’s 118th Anniversary Convention. Over the course of the event, attendees engaged with industry experts, policymakers, thought leaders and fellow farmers on the issues that matter most to them, including farm economy, mental health, corporate consolidation in the agricultural sector, climate change and sustainability, and the success of the next generation of family farmers.

Keynote remarks were delivered by Matt Paul, a nationally recognized expert in public affairs, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The convention also featured a panel on black land loss and voting rights with the Federation of Southern Cooperative’s executive director Cornelius Blanding and director of land retention and advocacy Monica Rainge, as well as Latrice Hill, national director of outreach for the Farm Service Agency. The panel was moderated by Karis Gutter, who leads government and industry affairs for Corteva Agriscience.

Additionally, convention attendees had their choice of half a dozen informational breakout sessions on precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, crop insurance farm to table, and hemp production.

NFU’s convention is not only an opportunity for collaboration and education, but also for celebration. The organization presented its annual awards to recognize those who have made significant contributions to agriculture. Journalist Leah Douglas received this year’s Milt Hakel Agriculture Communications Award for investigating the effects of consolidation and monopolization in the food and agriculture sectors. Two Farmers Union members received the organization’s highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award. NFU presented Dr. Neil E. Harl of Iowa and Dennis Sjodin of Minnesota with the Meritorious Service Award to Farmers Union and to American Agriculture to commemorate their commitment to Farmers Union, their communities, and family farmers. Learn more about both recipients here.

The event concluded with NFU’s grassroots policy making process. 199 delegates representing 33 state and regional divisions debated, amended, and voted on the organization’s policy book. The final result will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, especially as they relate to the tough economic circumstances and sustainability issues facing family farmers. Additionally, the delegates passed six special orders of business on the farm economy, the 2020 election, cooperatives, dairy reform, climate change, and truth in labeling.