Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to farmers and non-farmers. 


What MFU members say about their organization...


By Katie Fitzsimmons

ST. PAUL (July 25, 2014) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) will be at Farmfest at Gilfillan Estate outside Redwood Falls, Minnesota on Tuesday, August 5 - Thursday, August 7.  MFU will be selling local-ingredient, wood-fire Big River Pizza ( and have four youth bikes to give away!


“Farmfest is about getting together to talk about ag policy and what is going on in the countryside,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Minnesota Farmers Union has a great location for just that, as we are located just west of the forum building on lot 509.  Stop by, get a local-ingredient piece of pizza, sign up for a free kid’s bike, and have a conversation.  See you out there!”


Minnesota Farmers Union activities:

  • PIZZA: MFU will be selling Big River Pizza ( all day, every day at lot 509;
  • BIKES: MFU will give away four bikes, so come register at the MFU hoop barn. The drawing will take place on Thursday afternoon, and you do not have to be present to win;
  • PEDAL PULL: Minnesota Farmers Union Insurance Agency’s ( Children’s Pedal Pull, daily at 1 p.m., near entrance gate 2;
  • QUESTIONS: MFU President Doug Peterson will be asking questions of the governor candidates on Tuesday, August 5 at 10:30 a.m. in the forum building;
  • MNSURE: Representatives from MN Sure will be at the MFU hoop barn all three days to answer questions about the program,;
  • MOVE MN: a Move MN representative will be in the MFU hoop barn on Tuesday, August 5, to talk transportation issues,;
  • WATERMELON: MFU’s free watermelon feed, Thursday, August 7, 1 p.m., in the forum building;
  • SECOND HARVEST: Come find out more about their Invest an Acre and Share Fresh program,; and
  • AGRIABILITY: a representative from Agriability will be in the MFU hoop barn all three days to talk about how they can help farmers with disabilities.


The MFU hoop barn is located just west of the forum building in lot 509.

By intern

Minnesota Farmers Union has the distinct pleasure of awarding the Outstanding Agriculture Teacher Award to its recipient each year at the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators' Annual Banquet.  This year, the award went to Ron Dvergsten, a farm business management instructor at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.  Pictured above: MFU Executive Board Member Eunice Biel; Outstanding Agriculture Teacher Award recipient Ron Dvergsten; and MFU President Doug Peterson 

By intern

Minnesota Farmers Union had the privilege to be a part of the ceremonial bill signing of the Farmers Market bill.  MFU President Doug Peterson and MFU intern Kirsten Pagel attended the event.  
Today, Minnesota Farmers Union had the privilege to be a part of the ceremonial bill signing of the Farmers Market bill.  MFU President Doug Peterson and MFU intern Kirsten Pagel attended the event.  

By Katie Fitzsimmons

St. Paul (July 2, 2014) - Have your child join Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) for a day camp in your area this summer. MFU professional camp counselors will be traveling around the state teaching about cooperative organizations, and cooperation, while most importantly having fun! Each day camp is unique, with a different combination of crafts, games, lessons, songs, and skits all in the great outdoors. These activities are designed to enhance each day-camper’s leadership skills—the building blocks of strong rural communities—in an entertaining and engaging setting outside of the classroom.

"Kids love to do hands-on activities, and the Minnesota Farmers Union day camps are a great opportunity for kids to get their hands dirty, learn something about farms and rural communities and have some fun this summer,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.  “The kids will be enjoying themselves so much, they won’t even know they are learning!”


Dates and locations of upcoming day camps:

Monday, July 14                     10 a.m. – 3 p.m.          Robbins Island Park, Willmar

Tuesday, July 15                     10 a.m. – 2 p.m.          Little Falls Lions Park

Wednesday, July 16                10 a.m. – 2 p.m.          Dawson Swimming Pool      

Wednesday, July 16                10 a.m. – 2 p.m.          Owatonna Day Camp                       

Thursday, July 17                    1 p.m. – 4 p.m.            Farmers for a Day, Kerkhoven

Friday, July 18                        11 a.m. - 2 p.m.           Ivanhoe Swimming Pool Park               


Day camps are open to children 5-12 years of age and the fees for day camp range from free to $5. For more information or to sign up for a day camp, contact Glen Schmidt, MFU Education Director at or 651.288.4066.  Day camps are made possible from the generous donations of CHS Foundation and Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation.

By Katie Fitzsimmons

ST. PAUL (June 5, 2014) Minnesota Farmers Union would like to congratulate Grant Smude, son of Jim and Cara Smude of Pierz, for winning the Minnesota Farmers Union’s (MFU) FFA essay contest.  Grant was awarded $1,000 for the Pierz FFA Chapter, and a trip to Washington, D.C. when MFU goes on their annual fly-in in September.  A parent or his advisor will be accompanying him to Washington, D.C.MFU President Doug Peterson; Grant Smude; and FFA Advisor Pat Tax


A thank you and congratulations also goes out the Pierz FFA Advisor, Pat Tax, for her guidance.


MFU asked FFA students statewide to write a 500-750 word essay in response to this question, “What is the farmer’s role in conservation, and why is it important to the future of agriculture in Minnesota?”


Mr. Smude states in his essay, “There is no one more closely connected to our soils and waterways than our farmers. Their role in protecting these and all the natural resources we have is vital. Farmers are the foundation upon which we survive.”


“Grant did a great job of articulating how farming, conservation practices, and the livelihood of us all are interconnected. His essay was thorough and comprehensive and he did a wonderful job,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Grant should be very proud of his work and I want to congratulate him on a job well done.  A bright future in agriculture lies ahead of him.”

By Katie Fitzsimmons

This piece is by Daryll E. Ray and Harwood D. Schaffer, Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN:

In enforcing the Clean Water Act (CWA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) have clear jurisdiction over “[1] traditional navigable waters; [2] interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; [3] the territorial seas; [and 4] impoundments of traditional navigable waters, [and] interstate waters, including interstate wetlands, [and] the territorial seas.” The further upstream a water body, intermittent stream, or wetland is from one of these, the less clear it becomes that the EPA and the COE have jurisdiction.

This lack of clarity has resulted in lawsuits on behalf of landowners, several of which have ended up before the US Supreme Court. In the 2001 and 2006 cases, justices argued that there must a “significant nexus” between other waters and those over which the agencies have clear jurisdiction for the agencies to exercise regulatory control. The purpose of the April 21, 2014 proposed rule, “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act,” is in part to clarify what that “significant nexus” is and what waters would fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA and/or the COE. All quoted material in this article comes from the Proposed Rule.

To accomplish this goal, the “EPA’s Office of Research and Development prepared a draft peer-reviewed synthesis of published peer-reviewed scientific literature discussing the nature of connectivity and effects of streams and wetlands on downstream waters.... The draft Report provides a review and synthesis of the scientific information pertaining to chemical, physical, and biological connections from streams, wetlands, and open waters such as oxbow lakes, to downstream larger water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and estuaries in watersheds across the United States and the strength of those connections.” For the EPA, the first step is to identify the ways in which the scientific literature makes the connection between upstream tributaries and adjacent wetlands and downstream larger waters.

Connectivity (emphasis added) is the degree to which components of a system are joined, or connected, by various transport mechanisms and is determined by the characteristics of both the physical landscape and the biota of the specific system. The structure and function of downstream waters are highly dependent on the constituent materials contributed by and transported through waters located elsewhere in the watershed. Connectivity for purposes of interpreting the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ under the CWA serves to demonstrate the ‘nexus’ between upstream water bodies and the downstream traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial sea.

“Based on the literature, the Office of Research and Development was able to assess the types of connections between the tributaries and adjacent waters and the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas.”

But identifying the nexus alone is not enough to satisfy the court’s concern. “as Justice Kennedy found…a mere hydrologic connection may not suffice in all cases to establish CWA jurisdiction and there needs to be ‘some measure of the significance (emphasis added) of the connection for downstream water quality.’” 

In the proposed rule the agencies write, “The data and conclusions in the Report concerning the strength of the relevant connections (emphasis added) and effects of certain types of waters on downstream waters provide a foundation for the agencies’ determinations that certain waters have effects on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, or the territorial seas that are ‘significant’ (emphasis added) and thus constitute a significant nexus(emphasis added).”

The proposed rule says, “the Report concludes that the scientific literature clearly demonstrates that streams, regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, strongly influence how downstream waters function. Streams supply most of the water in rivers, transport sediment and organic matter, provide habitat for many species, and take up or change nutrients that could otherwise impair downstream waters. 

“The Report also concludes that wetlands and open waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas (transition areas between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) have a strong influence on downstream waters. Such waters act as the most effective buffer to protect downstream waters from nonpoint source pollution (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) [it should be noted that much of the potential pollution caused by farming is nonpoint source pollution], provide habitat for breeding fish and aquatic insects that also live in streams, and retain floodwaters, sediment, nutrients, and contaminants that could otherwise negatively impact the condition or function of downstream waters.

“Regarding wetlands and open waters located outside of floodplains and riparian areas, the Report finds that they provide many benefits to rivers, lakes, and other downstream waters. If the wetland or open water has a surface or shallow subsurface water connection to the river network, it affects the condition of downstream waters. 

“Where the wetland or open water is not connected to the river network through surface or shallow subsurface water, the type and degree of connectivity varies geographically, topographically, and ecologically, such that the significance of the connection is difficult to generalize across the entire group of waters.

“Lastly, the Report concludes that to understand the health, behavior, and sustainability of downstream waters, the effects of small water bodies in a watershed need to be considered in aggregate. The contribution of material by, or an important water-retention function of, a particular stream, other open water, or wetland might be small, but the aggregate contribution by an entire class of streams, other open waters, and wetlands (e.g., all ephemeral streams in the river network) can be substantial.”

Based on the draft report, the agencies conclude that both “tributary streams” and “adjacent waters,” as defined in the proposed rule, “perform the requisite functions for them to be considered ‘waters of the United States’ by rule.” In addition, “other waters” may, in some cases, perform these requisite functions.” But the agencies are proposing that these would be evaluated on a case-specific basis.

The agencies assert that the scientific literature shows that the included waters “supply sediment, wood, organic matter, nutrients, chemical contaminants, and many of the organisms found in downstream traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas.”

Furthermore, “These chemical, physical, and biological connections affect the integrity of downstream traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas through the export of channel-forming sediment and woody debris, storage of local groundwater sources of baseflow for downstream waters and their tributaries, and transport of organic matter. Wetlands and open waters located in riparian and floodplain areas remove and transform nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. They provide nursery habitat for fish, and colonization opportunities for stream invertebrates. 

“Adjacent waters, including those located in riparian and floodplain areas, serve an important role in the integrity of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas because they also act as sinks for water, sediment, nutrients, and contaminants that could otherwise negatively impact traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas.”

In the next column, we will examine the definition that the agencies have developed for the term “waters of the United States.”

By Katie Fitzsimmons

ST. PAUL (June 5, 2014) Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held a Focus on the Future retreat and Women’s Conference at the Radisson-Duluth.


“Women, young people, and beginning farmers are so integral in farming and in making our country thrive,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “That is why Minnesota Farmers Union feels it is so important to hold conferences like this to empower people, and to help them recognize their potential and to be aware of the networks that can help them achieve their goals.”


The conference had many wonderful speakers, including:

·         Champion and coach Shannon Miller, University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey;

·         Charlie Poster, MN Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner;

·         Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension Farm to School State Lead;

·         State legislators: Senator Kent Eken, Senator Lyle Koenen, Senator Vicki Jensen, and Representative Andrew  Falk;

·         Jerry Demmer, Chair of the MN Corn Research and Promotion Council;

·         Ron Johnson with the Duluth Port Authority;

·         Kristine Fladeboe- Duininick, award-winning auctioneer and motivational speaker;

·         Jessica Miles, Ag Marketing Specialist with the Minnesota Grown Program;

·         Melisa Augusto, National Farmers Union Membership and Marketing Director;

·         Laurel Feddema, and Tony Mans with Second Harvest Heartland;

·         farmer Doug Hoffbauer, who gave a tour of his farm ( and Tom Hanson, owner of the  Duluth Grill (, who talked about the importance of using local food, including some from the  garden in his parking lot, at their restaurant; and

·         several MFU members who spoke from the heart about their experiences on the farm.

Minnesota Farmers Union wants to thank the Farmers Union Insurance Agency ( and Minnesota Corn Growers Association ( for sponsoring the event, as well as the Radisson-Duluth for graciously giving $250 to the Farmers Union Feeding America campaign.

By amandav

By Katie Fitzsimmons

Congratulations to the MFU members who are in the new Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) class, a leadership development program.  They are:

  • Jim Kanten of Milan, 
  • Pakou Hang of Minneapolis, 
  • Corey Hanson of Gary, 
  • Whitney Place of Minneapolis, 
  • Margaret Wagner of Minneapolis, 
  • Timothy Hagl of Red Lake Falls, and 
  • Kyle Hemme of Hardwick.
By Katie Fitzsimmons

ST. PAUL (May 19, 2014) Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) sees 2014 legislative session as a success for family farmers.  The session ended May 16.


“MFU appreciates the investments that the legislature and Governor Dayton made in agriculture and rural Minnesota this session” said MFU President Doug Peterson.


Key MFU-supported provisions passed this session include:

-          $17 million in property tax relief for farmers;

-          repeal of sales tax on farm equipment repair;

-          $2 million for “Farm to Food Shelf” program;

-          passage of Farmers Market legislation that sets rules for sampling and food safety;

-          updating of state biodiesel laws that will pave the way for Minnesota to move to B10 on July 1;

-          $20 million for rural broadband;

-          funding for agricultural research on invasive pests, industrial hemp, perennial crops and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PED); and

-          passage of several different initiatives to protect pollinators.

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