Olson Announces Re-election Bid for President

At the July board meeting I made it known to the directors that I will seek another term as National Farmers president.

After much soul-searching, lengthy discussions with my family and encouragement from members all across the country, I have made the decision to again run for president of the greatest farm organization where I have ever had the privilege to be affiliated.

I have been a member for more than 50 years and have been involved with the NFO from the grassroots level to the top.

One of my goals has always been to surround myself with the best people I could find. The best example of that was when I asked the daughter of another NFO member in my neighborhood to be my wife nearly 47 years ago. Through the good times and the bad, Judy has always been there for me. I would never have been able to do what I have done without her and my family.

Faith, family, farming and NFO sustain us.

Whether it is the membership, administration or our staff, we are all on the same level. When I have my NFO farmer cap on, I see firsthand the stress and anxiety that nearly overwhelms us 24/7. At NFO, these symptoms don’t stop at the farm, but are felt by our staff, regardless of commodity, or geographic location, and on up to the administration that is constantly trying to balance the books through the worst economic times for production agriculture that I can recall.

I am proud of the fact that we are still NFO. We have not been gobbled up, or merged with another entity.  We are approaching our 65th anniversary. How many entities are still  around, or have the same name as they did in 1955?

Today, our livestock department is our fastest growing division. From where they were several years ago, they have become a force to be reckoned with, not only in growth, but also in profitability.

I would like to thank Garry Crosby for all of his help, patience and ability to really analyze numbers in his effort to turn that department around. Garry is not one to take credit, but with his help in building a solid team approach, along with the hard work and dedication of the field staff and home office support, they made it happen.

Garry has chosen to take a step back, and at the July board of directors meeting, Pat Lampert, Bremer, Ohio, was named the new Livestock Director.

Another bright spot for the organization has been the success of our dairy program in the Northeast. Less than three years ago, NFO was in jeopardy of losing not only our conventional dairy program in that part of the country, but also our ability to be a handler for organic milk was at risk. Because of the tenacity of our dairy shippers and our staff in that region, we all fought back the powers that be, found our own markets, secured our own office in Cortland, N.Y., and have since added more than 200 new conventional and organic farms to our block of milk.

A huge thank you to Brad Rach, Don Harnish, Katie Schmit, Dick Bylsma, all of our field staff and accounting staff, and also the national directors from that region for making it happen.

Our grain department needs to find ways to grow, streamline and become as successful as the other departments. One of the problems we face in marketing grain, is simply the large geographic area that we are trying to service versus the amount of grain we market. I believe we need to focus on building larger blocks of grain within a smaller footprint.

We need to be open-minded and innovative in our effort to grow our grain department and add value for not only our grain farmers, but also the organization as a whole. Collectively, I believe this can happen.

I will also work closely with the organic sector of our business structure. Organic markets are also under severe stress from not only fraudulent grain imports, but also large and corporate entities within our own borders, that are desperately trying to water down the organic standards and drive down the farmgate prices for all organic products.

Myself, and the position of president of NFO, is only one small piece of a large puzzle. To say we as farmers, ranchers and the entire farm community, are in the midst of some very tumultuous times, is putting it mildly.

I have been blessed with some wonderful people to work with. I consider it an honor to be part of an organization that has the best members and staff  I could ever ask for.

None of our jobs seem to get any easier. Whether it’s producing or marketing, every day seems to be an uphill battle. If there ever was a time for farmers and ranchers to work together, it is now.

I’m one stubborn Norwegian who truly believes there will be a day of reckoning and on that day NFO will prevail. Thank you for your continued support and hope to see you at convention 2020 in Bloomington, Minnesota.