Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106

WASHINGTON (Nov. 6, 2014) – National Farmers Union (NFU) Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI) participants are in Minneapolis this week to take a closer look at the cooperative business model, tour local farms and co-ops, consider legal issues and learn about bookkeeping requirements that are critical to the success of the operations.

“As harvest winds down, Americans are getting ready for Thanksgiving. We are proud of our Beginning Farmers Institute participants for wanting to excel in the field of family farm agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As diverse as production agriculture can be, farmers and ranchers all share similar challenges.”

The agenda of activities is packed, from meeting with an attorney whose background is rich with generational farm issues, to quizzing a former USDA expert who will review bookkeeping and tax record requirements. NFU Foundation Executive Director Maria Miller led a group discussion on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).

BFI participants will tour local farms including the family dairy operation of BFI alumni Eric Hoese. The group will also hear how Minnesota Farmers Union has turned its program “Minnesota Cooks” into a popular event that represents the best homegrown foods from around the state. Many of the group meals will be at farm-to-table restaurants.

BFI participants include Nicole Vojtech of Ohio; Tracy Zink of Nebraska; Courtney Krueger of North Dakota; Chris Holman and Kriss Marion of Wisconsin; Harrison Topp of Colorado; Glen Hughes of Indiana; Erin Bailey of Washington; Rick Duvall of Illinois; Chelsea Kruse of New Hampshire; Troy Hunoff of South Dakota; Nicholas Levendofsky, Matt and Leah Ubel of Kansas.

The selected individuals from across the nation come from an array of farm operations. “The Beginning Farmers Institute is important as they all of have different experiences and points of view,” said Johnson. “The participants not only learn from experienced speakers, they learn from each other.”

The institute is a 12-month program and is sponsored in part by DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit, CHS Foundation, CoBank, FUI Foundation and the NFU Foundation. BFI participants attended their first meeting earlier this year in Washington, D.C., where they focused on financial, marketing, public speaking and planning skills.

More information can be found at

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.


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