Watne Reelected North Dakota Farmers Union President

(JAMESTOWN, N.D.) – Mark Watne of Velva was reelected to an 11th one-year term as North Dakota Farmers Union president by more than 500 members and voting delegates attending the organization’s 97th annual state convention Dec. 15-16 in Bismarck.

In his address to members, Watne reflected on groundbreaking ideas the organization has brought to fruition to enhance family farm agriculture, such as Founding Farmers restaurants on the East Coast, and cited future opportunities on the horizon.

“We’re going to have to be more creative and innovative than ever to take what past presidents and leaders have done to prepare this organization for future success. The only way we accomplish what we want to accomplish is by being active and the voice of family farm agriculture,” he said.

In policy debate, Farmers Union delegates adopted two special orders of business in addition to their 2024 Program of Policy and Action.

The first order urged Congress to prioritize completion of a new farm bill. Delegates emphasized the need for a strong and stable safety net in the next farm bill, adequate protection from natural disasters, and farmer-friendly conservation resources.

The second special order opposed elimination of property taxes in North Dakota. Delegates supported efforts to reduce property taxes and encouraged the state legislature and political subdivisions to work toward a more balanced tax structure comprised of income, property and sales tax revenues.

Members also enjoyed a series of breakout sessions that focused on the farm bill, property taxes, market concentration, and new programs and resources for family farmers and ranchers. Other convention speakers included National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, NDSU crop economist Dr. Frayne Olson, and motivational speaker Alyson Van Hooser.

The Agraria Mutual Group (dba Farmers Union Insurance Company) also held its 80th annual meeting in conjunction with the NDFU state convention.

In other elections, Bob Kuylen of South Heart was reelected as NDFU vice president. Jon Iverson of Langdonretained his seat as District 1 director for Benson, Cavalier, Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, Ramsey, Towner and Walsh counties. Tyler Stafslien of Makoti was reelected to the District 3 seat, which encompasses the counties of Burke, Divide, Mountrail, Renville and Williams counties. Wes Niederman of Elginwas reelected as District 5 director. The counties of Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux comprise District 5. Ben Vig of Sharonwas elected District 7 director for Barnes, Cass, Griggs, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill counties. Former director Ronda Throener of Cogswell did not seek reelection.

Members also elected 42 delegates to represent North Dakota at the National Farmers Union Convention, slated for March 10-12 in Scottsdale, Ariz.:

ANAMOOSE – Amanda Olson. ASHLEY – Lori Blocker. BARNEY – Dalton Wiest. BATTLEVIEW – Rhonda Fenwick, Scott Grote. BOTTINEAU – Philip Neubauer. CENTER – Dave Berger. DEVILS LAKE – Terry Borstad. DOUGLAS – DeAnne Finken. EDGELEY – Richard Schlosser. ELGIN – Wes Niederman. ESMOND – Christie Jaeger. FORDVILLE – Julie Gemmill. GLADSTONE – Lenci Sickler, Shane Sickler. GRAND FORKS – Dee Decimus Holmes. KENMARE – Jared Johnson, Scot Ness. KINDRED – Josh Heinrich. MAKOTI – Darren Dobrinski. MCCLUSKY – Missy Axt, Melissa Pfennig. MENOKEN – Bill Kershaw, Karen Kershaw. MONANGO – Pam Henningsen. NAPOLEON – Carmen Rath Wald. OSNABROCK – Chris Lundeby. PEKIN – John Kelly. REGENT – Aaron Krauter, Cindy Krauter. RYDER – Trent Sherven. SHARON – Perry Ostmo, Ben Vig, Megan Vig. SHERWOOD – Jarett Keith, Steve Keith. SOUTH HEART – Bob Kuylen, Sarah Kuylen. VALLEY CITY – Bob Bruns. VELVA – Nathan Watne. WYNDMERE – Jim Dotzenrod. YPSILANTI – Lucas McClean.

In addition, 13 youths received the Torchbearer Award, the highest honor in the Farmers Union youth program. This year’s honorees were:

BURLEIGH – Edriana Konieczka of Bismarck, Harley Ternes of Washburn. GRAND FORKS – Jordan Johnson of Thompson. GRANT – Madison Zimmerman of Elgin. LOGAN – Alyssa Young of Napoleon. MORTON – Julia Rhone of Mandan. ROLETTE – Karesse Heinz of Rolette. STARK – Daymon Nadvornik of Dickinson. STUTSMAN – Megan Ames of Wimbledon. WILLIAMS – Austyn Cvancara of Wildrose, Ozzie Skogen of Lakota, Karter Hartsoch and Maddix Falk, both of Ray.

Three Torchbearers were each awarded a $1,000 Bergman Scholarship each to help offset college education costs. Recipients were Ozzie Skogen of Lakota, Alyssa Young of Napoleon and Madison Zimmerman of Elgin.

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