Todd Hagenbuch: Public invited to celebrate 100 years of Farmers Union

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— In 1907, a group of farmers from Crystola started the Colorado Farmers Union. The family farmers, wanting to have a common voice to fight for fair prices against larger, more corporate-type farms, banded together to raise awareness of their plight amongst fellow agriculture producers and consumers. The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, now incorporating members from Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, is still fighting this fight on behalf of producers and consumers alike.

The logo for the Farmers Union consists of an equilateral triangle, with Education making the base and Legislation and Cooperation forming the sides. We continue to follow this model, basing our efforts on education. We educate children and teens through workshops, presentations and summer camps. And we educate consumers about how their food is raised and what they can do to help the family farmer and rancher.

Our legislation efforts are nonpartisan, and we work with congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., and Colorado to enact legislation that helps the family farmer or rancher. RMFU has been instrumental in getting legislation passed that enables producers to reap the rewards of the new energy economy, from helping start small-scale wind turbine projects to unveiling the only carbon sequestration program in the state to allow farmers and ranchers to get paid for growing crops and/or grass in a matter that keeps carbon in the ground and out of the atmosphere.

The Rocky Mountain Cooperative Development Center, housed under RMFU, helps start projects in rural areas for agricultural and other rural businesses to form partnerships with one another so that they may market items together. Many businesses have followed this model, and our area is the home to a number of co-ops that show how this can be an effective business model.

On Oct. 21, you are invited to celebrate 100 years of this remarkable organization. At 5 p.m. that evening, members of the Northwest Colorado Farmers Union, the local chapter of RMFU, will host a free dinner at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. Fresh, local foods will be served, including Routt County beef, and a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables from other Colorado farms. The only thing you need to bring is an old-fashioned dessert, one of your family's favorites, to share with the crowd.

Dinner will be followed by the showing of a brief documentary showcasing the Farmers Union's first 100 years. A program featuring Mike Callicrate of Ranch Foods Direct, and Susann Mikkelson of the Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center is a can't-miss for anyone interested in marketing local products in our valley. A number of the Farmers Union's most active and most respected locals will be honored at the event as well.

Don't miss this exciting event. For more information and to RSVP, contact John Allen, NWFU president at (970) 824-6761, or Todd Hagenbuch, NWFU secretary/treasurer, at (970) 736-2336.

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