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

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is set for the Fair with some delicious new treats, some refreshing old ones and some good ol’ conversation!


The MFU booth is located at 1635 Dan Patch Avenue, just inside the Snelling Avenue entrance where we will have our delicious Farmers Choice coffee and much-loved mocha and mango bars, and frappes. New this year, MFU will also have a caramel-based ice cream with pralines and cookies, s’mores mocha, and four varieties of cookie sandwiches – chocolate chip cookies with mocha ice cream, peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream, sugar cookies with mango ice cream, and turtle cookies with vanilla ice cream!  Stop by, grab something to drink and a treat to eat, or feel free to rest your weary feet in our back patio. See you at the Fair!


MFU activities at the Fair:

  • Thursday, August 21 at 12 p.m. – MFU President Doug Peterson will be the Linder Farm Network farm broadcaster of the day from the MFU booth with special guests Senator Al Franken, State Conservationist Don Baloun, State Representative Rick Hansen and FFA President Jack Roessler;
  • Friday, August 22 at 2:30 p.m. - sponsorship of the celebrity cow milking contest;
  • Saturday, August 23 at 6 p.m. - 4-H auction with MFU President Doug Peterson as one of auctioneers;
  • Sunday, August 24 at 7:45 a.m.- the MFU-sponsored milk run;
  • Sunday, August 24 - 12th annual Minnesota Cooks Program from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., in Carousel Park, just west of the Grandstand Ramp.  You can check out the schedule at, and you can pick up a free Minnesota Cooks calendar at the event;
  • Tuesday, August 26 – 11:15 a.m. – MFU Vice President Gary Wertish will be on the MN Farm Network from the MFU booth;
  • Monday, September 1 at 1 p.m. - MFU President Doug Peterson will be on a labor panel at the DFL booth; and
  • MFU will also be participating in the Agrilympics, for more information,
By Katie Fitzsimmons

On Sunday, August 24, 2014, Minnesota Farmers Union Presents Minnesota Cooks™, a Local Foods Cooking Event at the State Fairgrounds


SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota CooksTM program ( at the State Fair is poised to host its twelfth annual celebration honoring relationships among premier Minnesota chefs and cooks, local farmers, and consumers. The day will feature cooking demonstrations, discussions, and sampling of delicious, sustainable cuisine.


The program will begin at 9:00 AM with a culinary demonstration of quick, healthy breakfast options by Kirsten Shabaz of Valley Natural Foods and live music from jazz and blues musicians Laura Underwood and Jeff Bjorgo.


Beginning at 10 AM, there will be six hourly presentations throughout the day by Minnesota’s premier chefs and cooks. All shows take place on the Minnesota Cooks Stage in Carousel Park, just south of the Grandstand.


Minnesota Cooks brings together those who value and support our local food system: farmers, consumers, and chefs. Onstage, these chefs and cooks will create amazing dishes using fresh ingredients supplied by our local stewards of the land. As they prepare their creations, emcees Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television and JD Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat & Fish will engage the chefs and a taster panel of farmers and local food heavyweights in lively and meaningful discussions about their sustainable food philosophies. At the end of each demonstration, the panel, as well as fairgoers, will sample the mouthwatering, farm-fresh fare.


“I'm very proud of what this program has accomplished. We've been in lockstep with consumers' increasing concern about where their food comes from and who produces it,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President and creator of Minnesota Cooks. “We're pleased to educate about not only where to purchase these products, including restaurants and retailers, but also the community connection that purchasing local, farm-fresh foods brings about."


2014 farm/restaurant pairings:



▪          Eric & Lisa Klein, Hidden Stream Farm and Robert Ulrich, Mendoberri

▪          Michael Schumacher & Marina Lovell, Farmucopia and Reed Olson, Wild Hare Bistro


▪          Jim & LeeAnn VanDerPol, Pastures A Plenty and TJ Rawitzer, Tiny Diner

▪          John Peterson & Jane Peterson, Ferndale Market and Rashmi Battachan & Sarala Kattel, Gorkha Palace


▪          Jim Riddle & Joyce Ford, Blue Fruit Farm and Tracy Singleton & Marshall Paulsen, Birchwood Cafe

▪          Megan & Stephan Henry, Sundogs Prairie Farm and Matthew Jensen, Broadway Bistro


▪          Dean Engelmann & Scott Endres, Tangletown Gardens’ Farm and Beth Fisher, Wise Acre Eatery

▪          Ian Silver-Ramp, Mississippi Mushrooms and Stephen Trojahn & Catherine Eckert, Gastrotruck


▪          Laura Dimler, Pampered Pumpkin and Craig Sharp & Tracy LeTourneau, Terra Waconia

▪          Joe Lindgren & Danie Jimenez, Positively 3rd Street Bakery and Jason & Lucie Amundsen, Locally Laid Egg Company


▪          John Bowron, Prairie Heights Bison and Skyler Hoiland, The Bluestem

▪          Weston Gienger, Kadejan, Inc. and Jourdan Morris and Mike Rakun, Mill Valley Kitchen


At 4pm, Erik Eastman & James Eastman of Easy & Oskey will demonstrate inventive mocktails using bitters from their popular Make Your Own Bitters Kit. Mary DuShane and Nicholas Jordan of The Moonlight Duo will entertain afternoon audiences with Southern roots and bluegrass music.


In addition to this year’s selected farmers, the Minnesota Cooks taster panels will feature local food heavyweights eager to weigh-in on our state’s food scene - politicans, authors, food bloggers, and radio personalities: Lori Sturdevant of Star Tribune, Sue Zelickson of The Charlie Awards and Women Who Really Cook, author Atina Diffley, Fresh Tart blogger Stephanie Meyer, WCCO news anchor Jason DeRusha, and many others.


The beautiful 12-month Minnesota Cooks™ calendar will continue its tradition of debuting at the event. This stunning publication will proudly feature original gorgeous photography, enticing stories about the rich relationships these farmers and chefs share, and stellar recipes. For the duration of the fair, it will be available at Minnesota Farmers Union’s building at 1635 Dan Patch Avenue. After the fair, calendars can be requested through the Minnesota Cooks website ( or through the 2014 participating restaurants and farmers.


Minnesota Cooks is presented by Minnesota Farmers Union with significant support from Minnesota Grown, Farmers Union Insurance Agency, and Farmers Union Industries. For more information about Minnesota Cooks, please visit the website at, e-mail, or like Minnesota Cooks on Facebook,

By Katie Fitzsimmons

ST. PAUL (July 31, 2014) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) policy has long supported country of origin labeling (COOL), that is why MFU is pleased by the District Court of Appeals’ decision to deny an appeal to halt the enforcement of COOL.


“Time and time again, multinational meatpackers and foreign competitors try to stop COOL, and once again the courts have agreed with popular opinion - consumers deserve to know where their food is coming from,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “MFU applauds the court’s decision because of its importance to family farmers and labeling their home-grown products, and for the consumer’s right to be educated about where their food comes from and to make buying decisions based on this knowledge.”


By a 9-2 majority, the Court upheld an earlier 3-judge panel decision to deny an appeal to halt the enforcement of the popular labeling law, passed in 2008.  The court ruled that “several aspects of the government’s interest in country-of-origin labeling for food combine to make the interest substantial: the context and long history of country-of-origin disclosures to enable consumers to choose American-made products; the demonstrated consumer interest in extending country-of- origin labeling to food products; and the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.”


MFU will continue to fight and protect COOL.


By Katie Fitzsimmons

From National Farmers Union:

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) – NFU President Roger Johnson today took his argument directly to consumers in a Huffington Post op-ed explaining why the proposed merger between Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands Co. will hurt consumers, farmers and ranchers alike.

“We are told time and again by multinational companies proposing mergers that consumers will benefit from better prices,” Johnson wrote.  “But we’ve seen how well that concept works in the real world, as anyone who has flown lately, or purchased prescription medication, or felt the sting of “Too Big to Fail” banking, or dealt with a cable company can attest.”  

Johnson explains the Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently considering a massive marriage between the largest meat company in the nation, Tyson Foods, and the 11th largest meat company, Hillshire Brands Co.   “The scale and scope of this merger will substantially reduce competition in the meat sector, which is already very concentrated,” he explained.   “In fact, just four companies slaughter and process nearly 81 percent of the cattle nationally, and in the pork sector, the top four firms control 65 percent of hog sales.” 

Johnson points out that for grocery shoppers, the proposed Tyson-Hillshire merger means Big Meat will now have even more control over prices.   “Over the decades, we’ve heard the same tired propaganda: That consolidation helps everyone,” he concluded.  “But a century of broken promises and a little common sense tells us differently.  Mergers help the big get bigger and leave the small guys helpless to their whims.  The DOJ needs to say no to this latest power grab.”



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.”

For archived news, please see Press Releases

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