Contributor: Sarah Severn
Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the annual convention of the Northwest Farmers Union (NWFU) and Cattle Producers of Washington in Spokane, WA. Washington Business for Climate Action (WBCA) sponsored the event and attendees were an interesting blend of family agricultural producers, ranchers and advocates for the sustainable production of food, fuel and fiber.
Over a century old, the NWFU, led by Kent Wright, is the regional chapter of the National Farmers Union (NFU). Its mission is to protect and enhance the economic wellbeing and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers, fisherman and rural communities.
For me, I wanted to learn about this community’s thoughts on climate change and how it affected them – if they felt it did. I met with people from across the spectrum. One participant told me (without hesitation) that she did not believe in global warming science. “It’s all part of natural cycles,” she explained. And I suspected she was not the only person in the room who felt this way. NFU president, Roger Johnson, however, is on the other end. During his speech, he outlined how climate change was at the top of their national legislative priorities.
Also notable, were farmers’ collected concerns about the future. Anytime a speaker mentioned forest fires and water shortages, they had follow-up questions and were clearly passionate about finding solutions. For them, they are at the front lines, grappling with forest management plans and water rights while trying their best to produce and deliver the food we all depend on.
Additional convention highlights included:
Author’s note: While I now live in rural San Juan County, my previous two decades in the U.S. were spent in Portland, where I indulged my passion for the great outdoors and followed where my food came from. That said, my only agricultural credentials are a horse, a mixed breed cattle dog and a backyard straw bale garden.