March 26 2024 02:11 PM

Hundreds gather in Scottsdale to shape national policy

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Representing Wisconsin Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union Convention in Scottsdale March 10-12 were, left to right, (front row) Darin Von Ruden, Westby; Grace Clardy, Eau Claire; Melissa Mahon Stein, Soldiers Grove; Michelle Ramirez-White, Madison; Mallaidh Mleziva, Manitowoc; (second row) Paul and JoAnn Adams, Eleva; Lori Mercer, Snohomish, WA; Danielle Endvick, Holcombe; Linda Ceylor, Catawba; Hannah Alden, Dorchester; Krist Kvalheim, Sun Prairie; and Dylan Bruce, Ferryville; (back row) Matthew Conte. Eau Claire; Patty Edelburg, Scandinavia; Catie and Dave Rosen, Glenwood City; Dennis Rosen, Emerald; David Greenfield, New Richmond; Camryn Billen, Eau Claire; Michael Slattery, Maribel; Joe Childs, Boscobel; and Tommy Enright, Amherst. Not pictured: Skye Bruce, Ferryville, and Meghan Greenfield, New Richmond.

Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) members were in Scottsdale this week for the National Farmers Union 122nd Anniversary Convention. Hundreds of farmers and ranchers from throughout the nation gathered March 10-12 to set the family farm organization’s 2024 policy.

"Amidst the challenges and opportunities facing our agricultural communities, Farmers Union remains steadfast in our commitment to amplifying the voices of family farmers,” WFU President Darin Von Ruden said. “As we gather at the National Farmers Union Convention, we honor our rich legacy while striving to shape policies that safeguard the livelihoods of future generations."

Wisconsin Farmers Union received several accolades from the main stage, including commendation from National Farmers Union President Rob Larew for their 'steadfast growth.' Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Senior Agriculture Advisor to the Administrator, Rod Snyder, recognized WFU Executive Director Julie Keown-Bomar for her role in an Eau Claire visit from EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

Representing WFU as delegates in the deliberation of policy were Paul Adams, Eleva; Linda Ceylor, Catawba; Joe Childs, Boscobel; Michael Slattery, Maribel; and Darin Von Ruden, Westby. Krist Kvalheim of Sun Prairie guided delegates through the policy process as convention parliamentarian, and Patty Edelburg of Scandinavia served on the NFU Policy Committee.

At the convention opening banquet, National Farmers Union (NFU) presented Dennis Rosen of Emerald, WI, along with Rodney Allebach of Minnesota and Linda Jones Borton of Ohio with Awards for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union and to American Agriculture, the highest honor presented by Farmers Union.

Rosen, a retired St. Croix County dairy farmer, served as WFU president from 1988 to 1994 and provided strong and stable leadership throughout his tenure. Following his presidency, Rosen continued to serve on the WFU Board of Directors, representing his district for 41 years.

“Dennis is a true family man, and when you have someone that serves that many years in a leadership position, he hands down a lot of good things to the folks that follow,” said Von Ruden while presenting the award. “Because of Dennis’s leadership, the State of Wisconsin still has a Farmers Union in it.”

WFU Director of Development Danielle Endvick received the Bruce Miller Membership Award. The award recognizes individuals within Farmers Union who display a true passion for family farming and rural America, while promoting the work of Farmers Union. Endvick is a Chippewa County beef farmer and served as WFU’s Communications Director for 9 years before transitioning into development.

Hannah Alden of Dorchester, Melissa Mahon Stein of Soldiers Grove, and Mallaidh Mleziva of Manitowoc attended the convention as the final event in a year-long commitment to the NFU Beginning Farmer Institute.

Dave and Meghan Greenfield of New Richmond and Skye and Dylan Bruce of Ferryville attended the convention as participants in the Farmers Union Enterprises Leadership Program.

Other members of the Wisconsin delegation included JoAnn Adams, Eleva; Camryn Billen, Eau Claire; Linda Ceylor, Catawba; Grace Clardy, Eau Claire; Matthew Conte, Eau Claire; Patty Edelburg, Scandinavia; Tommy Enright, Amherst; Michelle Ramirez-White, Madison; Dave and Catie Rosen, Glenwood City; Debbie Rosen, Emerald; and Michael Slattery, Maribel.

“Product of USA” Labeling and Local Meat Capacity

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the finalization of a rule to align the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim with consumer understanding of what the claim means. Secretary Vilsack also announced USDA is awarding $9.5 million to 42 projects through the Local Meat Capacity grant program to expand processing options for the meat and poultry industry and new actions to ensure transparency and a fair and competitive market in the U.S seed industry.

“Today’s announcement is a vital step toward consumer protection and builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to bolster trust and fairness in the marketplace where smaller processors can compete,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This final rule will ensure that when consumers see ‘Product of USA’ they can trust the authenticity of that label and know that every step involved, from birth to processing, was done here in America.”

Following a full program of speakers and sessions, delegates took part in the democratic policy debate that is fundamental to Farmers Union’s structure. This grassroots process informs NFU’s advocacy work throughout the year. The Wisconsin delegation was pleased to have language passed that urges Congress to pass a farmer-led, incentive-based milk production growth plan to match milk supply with profitable market demand.

During the policy debate, delegates approved six special orders of business:

The full NFU policy book will be available online soon at

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