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Frederickson wins NFU presidency

by Robert Schubert
CropChoice editor

(March 3, 2002 – CropChoice news) – IRVING, Texas – David Frederickson is the new president of the National Farmers Union. He won the election earlier today by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin over his opponent, Terry Detrick.

Farm Bill policy, its collaboration with the Farm Bureau Federation, and what, if anything, to do about the influence of the Oklahoma membership were three of the issues that emerged during the campaign.

On the first point, the new president left no doubts.

"Let’s unite and get out a good Farm Bill. Farmers need to know what’s going to be there for them as they head out to the fields," said Frederickson, after Detrick placed a peace dove pin on his lapel.

The House and Senate last week appointed members to the conference committee that will compromise on their respective versions of the Farm Bill. The Farmers Union strategy for communicating its policy preferences -- including higher loan rates, limits on farm payments, prohibition on packer ownership, and increased conservation – is just that, communication.

"On Friday, the Board voted to send members to Washington to meet with conferees," Frederickson said. "We’ll be in the hallways, visiting."

Union work with the Farm Bureau in the past year or so on such issues as a new renewable fuels standard has caused distress in some circles of the organization. But this and other partnerships likely will continue. "We’ll not compromise on our principles, but where we can work together, we will," the new president said.

Finally, there is the influence that the Oklahoma Farmers Union delegation wields in the organization's system of weighted voting because of its policy of classifying insurance holders as members. Oklahoma boasts a membership of more than 100,000 members, although only 20,000 of them have anything to do with farming.

"While we must understand that they have a voice and a vote, it must be a little more equal" throughout the organization, Frederickson said, noting that the Bylaws Committee would have to address the situation. He noted his plan to travel to Oklahoma to smooth over any issues that might have arisen during the campaign.

Terry Detrick, vice president of the Oklahoma Farmers Union, mentioned during his news conference following the election that his chapter’s membership sends $600,000 a year to the national office and that many of its members want to see more respect for that.

He mentioned that the NFU needs to stop referring, as he sees it, almost exclusively to the small family farmer. He cited the example of a 200-acre dairy farm in Wisconsin making a better living than a "6,000- to 8,000-acre spread in Wyoming that needs to run a lot of cows to make ends meet."