ST. PAUL – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) kicked off its 81st annual state convention today with four panel discussions.
The first, “Meat Processing: Update on MFU’s Efforts to Build a System that is More Distributed, Resilient and Fair,” provided an update on MFU’s work with Ridgewater and Central Lakes colleges, member leaders and a wide array of other partners to train the next generation of meat cutters in Minnesota and address the bottleneck in local and regional meat processing.
“For the first time in over 15 years, students are learning the art of meat cutting in our state,” said Sabrina Portner, who farms with her family in Brown County and serves as a Graduate Research Assistant with MFU and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. “As a student and farmer, it’s been energizing to see this progress and how MFU members have contributed to it through advocacy, applied research and working to build new models for meat processing. We’ve got a long way to go, but as a farmer I’m counting on our success.”
Last year, many members starting asking questions about carbon markets and MFU partnered with Farmers Legal Action Group and other organizations to produce a “Farmer’s Guide to Carbon Markets.” Members saw an advance draft of the report and discussed a variety of carbon market contracts during the panel, “Carbon Markets: An Introduction to a Farmer’s Guide on Navigating the ‘Wild West’ of Carbon Markets.”
“Farmers’ Legal Action Group is dedicated to providing legal services and support to family farmers to keep them on the land,” said Lindsay Kuehn, FLAG staff attorney. “That is why it was crucial for us to be a part of this project, along with MDA (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) and MFU, to promote fairness and transparency in the carbon marketplace.”
The third panel, “Women in Leadership: How Elevating Women into Leadership Positions Strengthens Membership Organizations,” was a lively discussion about how to create a stronger Farmers Union with more equal representation. Women represent 36 percent of farm owners and are the fastest growing demographic of farmers in the United States.
“The value of gender diversity in the workplace is widely acknowledged. The research shows that women bring different perspectives and approaches to business and leadership, resulting in more inclusive workplaces and often better performance for organizations – including better financial performance,” said Claudine Arndt, MFU Membership and Minnesota Cooks Director. “I appreciate the insightful perspectives and stories our panelists brought to this important ongoing conversation.”
The final panel, “Insurance 101: Don’t Let Disaster Strike Twice,” provided information about protecting farms and families during these volatile times.
“There will be many disruptions in the insurance industry as we go into 2023 to due key factors such as inflation, weather events, poor investment returns and reinsurance,” said Josh Vickerman, President of Farmers Union Agency. “I talked about what you can do to best protect family and farm to prevent disaster from striking twice.”
The 81st annual Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention continues Saturday and Sunday at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Minneapolis Northeast, 1330 Industrial Blvd. N.E., Minneapolis.
There is no charge to attend the convention, but meals are ticketed events. A tentative convention agenda can be found on the Minnesota Farmers Union website.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at https://www.mfu.org/ and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.