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Velde honored by MFU

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 01/02/2013 3:30 PM

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ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — David Velde of Alexandria has the distinction of being general counsel for both the Minnesota Farmers Union and the National Farmers Union.

For more than 28 years he's provided legal counsel, said MFU president Doug Peterson. MFU gave Velde its Distinguished Service Award at the organization's convention last month.

Velde's father was an MFU member and he grew up on a 240 acre farm near Maynard. He was in 4-H and showed hogs at the county fair.

Velde attended Moorhead State University where he received what he calls a "diverse undergraduate experience."

He followed the issues that made the late 1960s and early 1970s so tumultuous.

Velde considered returning to the farm in 1976. He calls it a "modest foray into farming,'' but says it was a total disaster. He was able to farm a portion of his uncle's land, but had problems due to drought. Instead of farming, he turned to law.

He graduated from Metropolitan State in the Twin Cities and attended law school at Hamline University where he graduated in 1983. While at Hamline, he had an opportunity to visit the Peoples Republic of China.

Velde has "rubbed elbows" with people who've played a role in ag policy and leadership.

While he was in college, Velde worked on Bob Bergland's congressional campaign and met then MFU president Cy Carpenter. Through those associations, Velde became an MFU legislative representative for two sessions and was deputy commissioner of agriculture under Bill Walker.

When Al Quie became governor, Velde served as counsel for the Minnesota House of Representatives rules committee.

In 1984, he became NFU legal counsel.

"The abilities to network at that time were just phenomenal," he said.

He's also developed computer applications for ag producers through Control Data, was admitted to the U.S. Federal District Court in 1984 and is a member of the Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association.

Velde has been the legal counsel for NFU at the World Farmers Organization meetings in Capetown, South Africa in 2011; Rome this year and plans to attend the next gathering in Nagata, Japan next year.

He is co-owner of Velde Moore LTD law firm in Alexandria where his wife, Brenda, is also an attorney.

A significant portion of the law practice focuses on farm families.

"The opportunities I have been presented with through my career have been huge," he said. "It's been very exciting. I have been helping to draft testimony on drought aid for a Congressional hearing on a Monday and, the next day, being able to talk to farmers about estate planning."

Velde brings to the table is his knowledge of the Farmers Union philosophy.

"I am a lawyer who grew up in the Farmers Union and believes passionately about it," he said. "...I think I bring to the table an appreciation of the historical philosophy of the Farmers Union, its goals and aspirations."