Kansas Farmers Union members adopted five special orders of business during the state convention, held Dec. 4 through 5 in Manhattan. Resolutions on Beef Checkoff Reform, USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, Kansas’ Corporate Farming Law, Hydraulic Fracturing, and National Farmers Union’s Educational Center were among those discussed and voted on by county delegates. The grassroots process starts on the county level, moves on to the state convention for debate, then concludes with final approval by the elected delegates from each county chapter.

Two new special orders of business were adopted by the voting delegates, one on beef checkoff reform and the other on USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA.)

Kansas Farmers Union members reiterated they do not support the beef checkoff in its current structure, and encourage an expedient vote on its elimination under the 1985 Beef Promotion Act. KFU supports a national beef checkoff under the 1996 Commodity Promotion Act.

The statement calls for the allotment of more participating contractors, a majority of which being cow/calf producers. It also states the executive committee should maintain the same ratio of the delegation; that no packers, importers, or policy groups should serve or be represented on the board; and that representation should be solely on a geographical basis.

The special order of business also calls for the beef checkoff to solely promote U.S. beef; and that the board should take a more proactive role in agenda setting. Additionally, KFU would support a fee no greater than $3.00 per head, only at the time of harvest under the newly established checkoff program. It should also be known that Kansas Farmers Union policy only supports voluntary checkoffs at the point of sale.

After hearing from USDA GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell at the Friday, Dec. 5 convention banquet, members voted on a special order of business stating the organization’s support of fully funding the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), and the critical services provided to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers. KFU also opposes any effort to privatize the inspection and weighing of grains exported from the United States.

With a possible debate on the Kansas Corporate Farming Law in the upcoming 2015 legislative session, delegates also renewed the special order of business on the issue.

Since the issue came back into focus two years ago, KFU has stood strong on its belief that the county option or “home rule” should be preserved and protected. For over 80 years, corporate farming laws have protected family farms and ranches from the threats of unfair competition by corporate and foreign interests, and all-out repeal threatens the future of family agriculture across Kansas.

KFU members believe Kansas counties should be able to opt out of consideration by any corporation looking to relocate to the state, and also believes Kansas citizens should be able to petition registered voters and bring corporate farming issues to a public vote.

Convention delegates also renewed their support for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing operations in oil and gas recovery until an environmental impact study, guided by sound science, proves the activities safe.

An existing special order of business regarding the National Farmers Union Educational Center in Bailey, Colorado was renewed. It reads, “We support all aspects of the National Farmers Union Youth and Education program and continue full utilization of our Bailey Camp facilities so that it is available for our present and future Farmers Union membership. We recognize and respect all the dedicated efforts that went into making our educational center a reality by thousands of loyal Farmers Union members across the United States.”

The Farmers Union Education Center in Bailey, Colorado is owned by the National Farmers Union and is used by NFU specifically for the organization’s annual All-States Leadership Camp and other Farmers Union educational camps. Each summer, National Farmers Union (NFU) members ages 17-20, who have distinguished themselves as leaders, are given the opportunity to attend NFU’s All-States Leadership Camp. Youth come from across the United States to Bailey, Colo., where they spend a week at the NFU Education Center, nestled among the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Campers explore their personal leadership skills, identify issues important to their generation, and discuss their role in affecting positive change throughout rural America, both individually and through involvement in Farmers Union.

Education is essential to the success and growth of Farmers Union, which provides a variety of educational opportunities for youth and adults at the local, state, and national levels and is committed to providing opportunities and programs of excellence to its members.

Kansas Farmers Union is the state’s oldest active general farm organization working to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. For more information, visit their Web site at www.kansasfarmersunion.com, or call 620-241-6630.