The 2019 state convention theme Exploring Ideas, Innovation and Impact brought members together from all over the state. The event was held October 25-26 at the Heritage Inn. The convention featured workshops on precision agriculture, trade, grizzly management, malt barley testing, suicide prevention and more. Keynote speakers included Dr. Sreekala Bajwa, Roger Johnson, Luc Swensson and entertainment by hypnotist Erick Kand and a murder mystery dinner theatre. Members elected state officers including Walter Schweitzer to serve as President. “I am humbled that my neighbors and fellow Montana Farmers Union members have entrusted me with this great opportunity and responsibility.”

In addition officers were re-elected to represent the following districts: Jan Tusick, District 6; Ben Peterson, District 5 & 6 At-Large, Erik Somerfeld representing District 2; John Wendland as Door Keeper and Tom Clark as Conductor. The officers were sworn in at the convention’s closing banquet. Also at the convention delegates for the National Farmers
Union convention were selected. The 2020 NFU delegates are Jeri Copenhaver, Doug Crabtree, Laura Garber, Lilly Green, Kirby Hancock, Hadley Gideon,Cory Kelly, Maggie Shane and youth delegate Abby Clark. Paul Neubauer and Tyce Erickson are alternates.

 

Youth leaders at 2019 state convention

One of the main objectives of the annual convention is the adoption of policy by membership. Each year a policy committee is selected and presents resolutions and policy items to members. In addition to policy changes, which will be reflected in the updated policy book and available on the website, the body passed three special orders.

SPECIAL ORDERS OF BUSINESS:
1.)Ratification of the CSKT Water Compact
Montana Farmers Union demands our congressional delegation introduce legislation for the ratification of the CSKT Water Compact that was passed in the 2015 Montana legislative session. Agriculture faces uncertainty in many areas including low commodity prices and weather that threatens adequate water supply. Water is our state’s most valuable resource and the CSKT Water Compact protects this resource in many ways. First and foremost the CSKT Water Compact removes the threat of litigation Montana water users couldface. Secondly the CSKT Water Compact will provide certainty for water usage on the Flathead Reservation and statewide. The CSKT Water Compact must be ratified in a timely manner with the looming deadline for expiration or re-negotiation. MFU will actively seek ratification legislation from our congressional
delegation.

Farmers Union Enterprise Couple Kody and Serena Cator

2.) Family Farms and Trade Policy
Access to global markets is critical for family farms in Montana. Montana agricultural exports account for about 75-80% of Montana farm incomes. Montana farmers and ranchers rely heavily on strong export markets and are struggling with the retaliatory tariffs placed on commodities that Montana farmers and ranchers produce. We support efforts to balance the trade deficit and unfair trade practices as well as expand trade with other countries. We urge that the retaliatory tariffs be resolved to stop the monumental losses to Montana farmers and ranchers including the loss of global market share and the decrease in farm income. The current administration’s efforts to offset the retaliatory tariffs with MFP payments have in no way been sufficient to compensate for market losses that family farms have experienced. MFU urges the restoration of open trade with countries around the world and the elimination of current adverse trade practices that affect Montana Ag.

3.) Hemp Production
Montana Farmers Union supports laws to allow production of Hemp, including, but not limited to:
• Ensuring the availability of quality seed
• Assuring that hemp growers will have unmitigated
access to the banking system and
FDIC and local banks update their policies to
current hemp laws
• Allowing producers to sell and ship seed
across state lines
• Create a crop insurance program that covers
producers in a manner similar to other commodities
• Encourage MSU and other research institutions
to begin field trials of hemp in a variety
of climates around the state and region
• Lobby for hemp to be regulated as a food
produce by the FDA.

The 2019-2020 policy book will be updated and available shortly online. Please check back next month clicking on the resources page for an updated version.

Thank you to all the convention sponsors who made the 2019 convention such a success! The 2020 Convention will be at the Heritage Inn, October 30-31 so save the date!