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Minnesota Farmers Union re-elects Renville's Wertish as president

Minnesota Farmers Union members re-elected Gary Wertish, of Renville, as president, and Anne Schwagerl of Browns Valley was elected vice president.

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Minnesota Farmers Union logo.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Farmers Union members at their 80th annual state convention held Nov. 19-21 in Minneapolis enacted special orders, re-elected their president and elected a new vice president and also elected delegates to the National Farmers Union Convention.

According to a news release, members re-elected Gary Wertish of Renville as president.

“It’s an honor to serve as president of Minnesota Farmers Union and I appreciate the trust the members have invested in me to guide the organization,” said Wertish. “I am eager to continue our progress on rebuilding the state’s meat processing infrastructure and excited to see what the next year brings for MFU’s new restaurant, Farmers Kitchen + Bar."

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Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union

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Anne Schwagerl of Browns Valley, most recently serving as secretary on the executive committee, was elected vice president.

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Anne Schwagerl, of Browns Valley, Minnesota Farmers Union

“It feels like a natural step forward to become vice president of Minnesota Farmers Union,” said Schwagerl. “I’m really excited to jump in with both feet and work for our members. I know from listening to the policy debate that our members are concerned about the big challenges facing agriculture: Farming in a changing climate, demanding fair prices for our products and protecting our democracy.”

According to the news release, the main purpose of the convention is to debate and pass the organization’s policy platform, which is developed by members at the grassroots level. Delegates debated policy surrounding climate resiliency, biofuels and funding for conservation projects.

They also passed five special orders of business:

  • Drought relief and climate resilience

  • Local and regional processing

  • Competitive markets

  • Generational farm transition

  • Affordable health care

The 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," according to the release.
With the special orders passed by members, Wertish said, "we will have a busy year ahead informing lawmakers of the critical need to act on climate resilience, the importance of competitive markets and the urgency of addressing the state’s healthcare inequalities.”

Delegates were also elected to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union Convention slated Feb. 27-March 1 in Denver. Delegates from across the nation will gather to debate National Farmers Union policy.

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Delegates who will represent Minnesota: Andrew VanDerPol of Chippewa County, Luke Sanders of Swift County, Tim Velde of Yellow Medicine County, Jane Imker of Cottonwood County, Alan Perish of Todd County, Steve Koering of Crow Wing County, Denise Duncan of Wabasha County, Marcus Irrthum of Goodhue County, Melany Thomas of Clay County and Sharon Pihlaja of Becker County.

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