Minnesota NFO celebrates 50 years at annual convention
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 01/02/2013 3:30 PM
SAUK CENTRE, Minn. — Minnesota NFO held its 50th convention last week in Sauk Centre.
Members celebrated the organization's past, viewing a video detailing NFO's history and hearing personal recollections by Bob Arndt, who served as state president and national vice president.
Then the state organization turned its attention to current efforts promoting NFO programs.
Brad Rach, who heads the national NFO dairy procurement program, said the dairy department is moving forward with strategic planning, training its staff and looking at ways to build and expand programs.
National NFO vice president Paul Riniker talked about NFO's national ad campaign. He's one of several NFO members talking about the organization's collective bargaining programs through the ads.
Nikki Studenski, who handles dairy procurement for central and northwestern Minnesota, is using social media to help dairy farmers and inform them about NFO dairy programs. Her effort started with smartphones, but facebook has turned it into something she didn't imagine, Studenski told the convention. When the site was first founded, she had 300 likes for "2farmgirlz," now its garnered more than 1,840.
The state NFO's resolutions reinforced the organization's collective bargaining foundation.
One resolution called for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to change the evaluation criteria for the Livestock Investment Grant application.
"The evaluation criteria is skewed against the small- and medium-sized livestock family farms and weighted more favorably toward the largest livestock operators," the resolution stated. "All operations that use innovation should have an equitable chance to receive a grant including the operations that favor low-cost and low-input systems. This includes grazing."
Other resolutions included opposition to a total shift in property taxes from the land to homesteads. State NFO members approved reinstating homestead credit. It called for equality in Social Security payments for farm women who co-own and co-work in farm businesses rather than receiving half of their spouse's payments.
Minnesota NFO supports sustainable agriculture and called for 100 percent restoration to organic and sustainable agriculture funding at the MDA plus funding of the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program for $280,000 a year.
It supports a legislative funding initiative for $2 million for the University of Minnesota to support organic farm production. And it supports, through the resolutions, a new dairy research facility if it is designed for the purpose of increasing the profitability of current-sized dairy farms.
There was good news for Minnesota NFO's dairy, livestock and grain procurement departments. Each reported a positive marketing year, said Minnesota NFO president Joe Neaton of Watertown.