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IFU sets annual convention Nov. 20-21

By Staff | Nov 18, 2015

DES MOINES – The Iowa Farmers Union, the state’s oldest farm organization, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at its annual convention, Nov. 20-21.

The 2015 convention will be at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport and Conference Center.

The event will bring together family farmers and advocates from across Iowa to learn about the latest developments in farm and food policy and share ideas for overcoming challenges and creating opportunities for Iowa’s independent family-owned farms.

The convention’s two days of workshops and training sessions will cover topics including water quality, climate change and soil health, local and regional food systems, pesticide drift, biofuels and the RFS, eminent domain, food labeling, cooperative business development, farm risk management, citizen lobbying, and Farmers Union history.

The convention’s general session will feature a legislative policy debate led by IFU members, and addresses from National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson and Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Naig.

The convention includes the Harvest Gala, a special evening celebration in honor of IFU’s 100th birthday, with the keynote address by Jim Hightower, an author and former Texas agriculture commissioner.

“This type of educational grassroots event is what Farmers Union has always done best,” said IFU President Jana Linderman, a beginning farmer from Cedar Rapids. “Over a century of service, we have used education and cooperative action to empower our members to be their own best advocates, whether we are working on legislative policy to support family farms or cooperative business development to create economic opportunities for farms and rural communities.”

The National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 in Point, Texas by a group of farmers and ranchers concerned with the stability of farm income and anti-competitive market practices facing family farms.

Workshop topics for beginning farmers and local food growers include responding to pesticide drift, risk management for diversified operations, improving financing and resources for small, diversified farms, and exploring how cooperatives can serve a new generation of family farmers.

“This country was built by independently-owned family farms,” said Linderman. “With an aging farm population, it’s wonderful that there are young people who are finding ways to start new family-owned farm businesses and that they want to be active in shaping the future of food and farming.

“But it’s not a foregone conclusion that they will succeed, unless we provide them with the support and resources that they need.

“That’s why the work that IFU does to support independent family-owned farms is even more important now than when we first started our work 100 years ago.

“The choices that we make now will be shaping the future of farming, food, and rural communities for the next century.”

“I can’t imagine a more important conversation to be having in Iowa, the heart of American agriculture.”

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