By Nick Levendofsky, KFU Executive Director
McPherson, KS — Kansas Farmers Union (KFU) hosted the organization’s 116th annual state convention at the Hilton Garden Inn - Salina November 29-30. The event featured educational and informative speakers, the annual business meeting of Kansas Farmers Union, discussion and adoption of KFU’s 2024 legislative policy, officer elections, and the presentation of annual awards.
This year’s convention theme was “Let Us Reason Together,” harkening back to the early days of Farmers Union and efforts to work across the political and urban-rural divides to find common ground.
Three seats on the KFU Board of Directors - Vice President, North District Director, and South District Director - were up for re-election.
Matt Ubel, Wheaton, was elected Vice President and will serve a two-year term. Ubel recently served as a North District Director for the past seven years.
Amanda Lindahl, Kansas City, was elected North District Director and will serve a three-year term. Lindahl has been growing food and community in the Kansas City metro for more than a decade and is currently transitioning efforts from urban food production back to her rural roots in Dickinson County where she is working to take over stewardship of the 5th generation family farm.
Ryan Goertzen-Regier, Hesston, was elected South District Director and will serve a three-year term. Goertzen-Regier grew up on and continues to work part-time on his family's fifth generation Kansas farm in Marion County that raises row crops, hogs, and cattle. He most recently served as KFU’s Vice President.
Former South District board member Jason Schmidt, Newton was also appointed to an at-large position on the board. More information about the KFU board can be found at https://www.kansasfarmersunion.org/board
Eight members were elected to represent KFU as delegates at the National Farmers Union Convention, March 10-12 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kansas delegates will join others from Farmers Union organizations from across the nation to set policy during the convention.
Delegates who will represent Kansas:
Andrea Clark, Kansas City, KS
Donna Pearson-McClish, Wichita, KS
Jill Elmers, Lawrence, KS
Amanda Lindahl, Kansas City, KS
Scott Kohl, St. George, KS
Kate Giessel, Kansas City, KS
James Bowden, Salina, KS
Tom Giessel, Larned, KS
In addition to a lively auction that raised over $3,000 to benefit the KFU Foundation, the organization honored Greg Stephens, Salina with the organization’s Ruth Hirsh Award for his lifelong service and dedication to family farmers and secondary education. Richard Boxum, Downs, was honored with the Farmers Union Midwest Agent of the Year Award. Former Kansas Governor John Carlin was honored with the Linda Hessman Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime service and dedication to Kansas, preserving American history, and to defending civics and democracy.
KFU also debuted an underwriting promo which will air before and after each new episode of Smoky Hills Public Television’s Season 12 of Real Ag and showed videos from U.S. Representatives Tracey Mann and Sharice Davids sharing their thoughts on the next Farm Bill and thanking KFU leadership and members for their advocacy efforts.
Through grassroots policy and local involvement, KFU members and staff play a key role in bringing concerns, issues, and needs to the attention of local, state, and national decision makers. KFU’s state and national policy document is proposed, discussed, and ratified each year at our state convention.
Highlights from this year’s policy discussion included a call for publicly subsidized crop insurance for specialty food crops. Longtime supporters of the cooperative business model, convention delegates reiterated their support for the Rochdale Principles and re-emphasized support of one member, one vote. Along those same lines, delegates added language opposing the use of a proportional voting system, or voting power based on member’s use of the cooperative or on the amount of stock ownership. Delegates also added language supporting adequate access to water resources for all Kansans.
Delegates passed five Special Orders of Business:
Support for Kansas County Health Departments
Support for Medicaid Expansion
Discontinuation of the Medicare Advantage Program
Priorities for the Next Farm Bill
United States Postal Service
KFU’s Special Orders of Business are the organization’s main legislative priorities for the upcoming year. They are a timely message to policymakers about what Farmers Union members want them to act on in the near term. KFU’s 2024 Policy Statement and Special Orders of Business can be found online at https://www.kansasfarmersunion.org/policy
About Kansas Farmers Union - Since 1907, Kansas Farmers Union (KFU) has worked to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. Kansas Farmers Union represents its members, who are engaged in diverse farming and ranching pursuits, through education, legislation, and cooperation.