Innovation, education opportunities highlight upcoming RMFU convention
Among this year’s Innovation Fair presenters area:
Jude Schuenemeyer, who works with the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project to preserve and restore heritage orchards in southwestern Colorado.
Emily Hunter, representing Hunger Free Colorado, a group dedicated to ending hunger in our state.
Poudre Valley Community Farms, a land cooperative, which is an organization using a cooperative model to purchase and lease farmland to facilitate farmland succession, while promoting local food security and economic growth.
Scott Scheimer of Simple Farms, who will offer an alternative lens on the concept of farm profitability — margin mangement.
Bob Hockaday of Tucumcari Bio-energy, who is reconfiguring an old ethanol plant to function as an anerobic digestor of cattle manure and cheese production waste, which will result in produce renewable natural gas, carbon dioxide, liquid fertilizer and cattle bedding.
Zac Kreider is part of the team at Colorado Mills where the byproduct of their sunflower oil operation, sunflower meal, has incredible benefits as a livestock feed including improvement of overall animal health, lower death rates and inreased marbling without adding exterior fat.
DENVER — During a season of growing uncertainty, farmers and ranchers from Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming will learn ways to survive and thrive at the 11th Rocky Mountain Farmers Union annual convention. The event is set for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22-23 at the Double Tree Hotel in Greeley, Colo.
The convention theme “The Time is Right — The Need is Now” will resonate throughout the event, with educational panels, guest speakers and break-out sessions all focusing on ways producers can find answers to uncertain times through collaboration and cooperation.
Although the convention starts Friday, the popular RMFU Innovation Fair will be open to all on Thursday, Nov. 21, The Innovation Fair will include presentations on topics such as using cattle feed made from forestry products, app-based data collection, farm and ranch business tool kit resources, positioning operations for financial success and much more. Registration for the Innovation Fair is free for students and Farmers Union members and $15 for non-members. The event will begin at 1 p.m. at the Double Tree in Greeley.
The RMFU convention will begin with registration and opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22. At 9:15 a.m. a panel will look at hemp as a viable alternative crop. Panelists will include individuals with experience in growing and marketing hemp, researching the net successes of different varieties and growing conditions and financial challenges. Later that morning, USDA’s National Appeals Division will review how farmers and ranchers may use the division to challenge the agency’s program decisions on a case by case basis. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson will offer his view of ag policy and politics trending on Capitol Hill. RMFU President Dale McCall will also share his observations and insights regarding the key topics affecting farmers, ranchers and rural communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.
At 1 p.m. Friday, a water panel will consider the possibilities and realities of supply conditions on the Colorado River Basin and the potential impact of implementation of a drought contingency plan. The Harvest Moon Gala will be the main event Friday evening. The gala is a fun fundraising event to support the educational programs of the RMFU Foundation.
A health panel set for 9 a.m. Saturday morning will take a thoughtful look at availability and access to rural health care resources with a focus on tools available to manage rural stress.
Farmers Union members will introduce, debate and adopt policy positions during the convention. As a grassroots organization, Farmers Union policy is decided by the members who show up, stand up and speak up on the convention floor. These priorities become the marching orders to the board and staff during 2020. Policy discussing is a highlight for many members who started this work in their annual chapter meetings held just prior to the convention.
During the two-day event, RMFU will name the Farm Family of the Year, FUSA Agent of the Year and leadership awards. Members will elect a president, directors for Districts I, III and IV and delegates to the National Farmers Union Convention.
For details on the Innovations Fair, RMFU convention and registration, go to rmfu.org. ❖
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.