National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 in Point, Texas by Newt Gresham. Farmers Union grew out of the need for farmers to harness the power of organization to stand up against the monopolies that controlled the railroads, ag processing, ag supplies, and the grocers.
Organizing efforts In Nebraska began in 1911 with the formation of local cream and ag supply cooperatives with Antelope County being the first county organized in May 1911. Nebraska Farmers Union was first chartered into National Farmers Union on December 13, 1913. Our mission: “Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities.”
NeFU has many active county and district organizations, and is very active in shaping farm and rural policy in both Lincoln and Washington DC. Governed by its members, NeFU’s policy is approved each year by the elected delegates of our state convention, and all Farmers Union officers are chosen in open elections.
The current President of Nebraska Farmers Union is John K. Hansen. He was first elected President in 1989, and has been re-elected every two-year term since. Hansen also serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Legislative Committee for National Farmers Union, is on the National Farmers Union Executive Committee, and also serves on several other national committees. Before moving to Lincoln to serve as President in 1990, he operated a diversified grain and livestock operation in Madison County, NE.
The current State Vice-President of Nebraska Farmers Union is Vern Jantzen, a grain producer from Plymouth, in Jefferson County.
Graham Christensen serves as State Secretary. Along with four other members, Jantzen and Christensen also serve on the Board of Directors.
66455 Ponderosa Dr, Hyannis, NE 69350
Senator Al Davis is a cattle rancher from Hyannis, Nebraska, where his family has lived since the late 1800s. He received a BA from the University of Denver. From 2012-2016, Sen. Davis represented the 43rd legislative district in the Nebraska Legislature, where his committee assignments included Revenue Committee, Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.
52192 N. 180th Ave, Belgrade, NE 68623
Phone: (308) 550-0288
Jim Knopik has lived on or near the same farm west of Fullerton all of his life. After high school, Jim married Carolyn, rented their own farm and worked together with his dad and two brothers.After twenty five years of conventional farming, Jim began farming organically and direct marketing. Jim actively works with others trying to establish fair and new markets and lost infrastructure for small businesses. Currently he is working on helping build a year-round online farmers market with a delivery system now serving a large part of Nebraska.He serves on the boards of organizations such as the Center for Rural Affairs, the Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition, Nebraska Food Cooperative and now helping develop a new state-wide Food Policy Council.Jim and Carolyn have four children and eleven grandchildren all living within 20 miles of their home. Family, neighbors, soil, water and air are his most important resources.With his two son-in-laws, two sons and help from grandkids they have built and installed four new ground mount solar systems for customers this year and this month have formed a new business called the “North Star Solar Bears LLC. Their specialty design is ground mount solar frames but are now set up to do other solar systems and installation.
122 W. 4th St, Ste B, Red Cloud, NE 68970
David was born in Red Cloud where his parents owned and operated a diversified livestock operation. Upon graduation from Red Cloud High School he enlisted in the Unites States Army where he was stationed in South Korea. After completing his enlistment David moved back to Nebraska and worked on the family farm. He became a crop specialized insurance agent in 1986 and later moved to property and casualty insurance in 1998 with Midwest Regional Agency where he remains today.
Vern Jantzen (Vice President)
57975 721 Road, Plymouth, NE 68424
Vern Jantzen and his wife Dolores own and operate their fourth generation family farm southeast of Plymouth in Jefferson County. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. In August of 2010 they shut down their dairy operation after 25 years. Vern operates a custom forage bagging operation and drives truck for his brother’s custom chopping business. Vern graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1980 with a B.S. in agricultural economics and then spent almost 4 years serving with Mennonite Central Committee in eastern Bolivia. Vern has made many trips to Washington, D.C. for NFU Fly-Ins and has served as a delegate to the NFU annual convention several times. He continues to serve as Co-Chair of the NEFU Policy Committee.
6505 W. Davey Road, Raymond, NE 68428
Ben was born and raised on a cattle ranch in the Sandhills of southwest Holt County, Nebraska. Although most of his occupations have been agricultural, he has also published a full-length book of poetry and taught college English. He continues maintain a connection to the Sandhills, running his own cattle business and helping his family manage the ranch, while finding the time to write, play music, and work on behalf of farmers and ranchers with the Nebraska Farmers Union and other organizations.
Graham Christensen (Secretary)
5653 S. 186th Ave, Omaha, NE 68135
Phone: (402) 217-5217
Graham P. Christensen was born in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up on his family’s corn and soybean farm near Oakland. While growing up Graham actively worked on the farm and also was active in many sports while attending school. Graham graduated from Oakland-Craig Public High School in 1998 and from Midland Lutheran College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. After graduation, Graham worked for Diversified Financial Services in Omaha for three years in agricultural financing. In 2006, Graham joined the Ben Nelson Senate Campaign as a Regional Director for the Omaha area. On January 1, 2007, Graham joined Nebraska Farmers Union as its Public Affairs Director. His responsibilities included representing the Nebraska Wind Working Group, climate and energy issues education and research, agriculture and energy policy work at both state and federal levels, membership development, and grassroots coordination. After Graham’s service with the Nebraska Farmers Union he went to work for U.S. Senate Candidate and Attorney Dave Domina. Currently he is the Managing Member of GC Resolve, LLC, who contracts to construct solar projects, as well as contracts on ag, energy and other political issues. Graham loves being active as he continues to play semi-professional baseball in the summer and is still actively involved in operating Christensen Farms, Inc. with his family.
56149 Hwy 12, Hartington, NE 68739
Martin Kleinschmit is a Nebraska farmer with 40 years experience as a sustainable farmer. He received a BS degree in Animal Science in 1968 from the University of Nebraska. Following a 2-year career as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he and his wife, Linda, returned to the farm in 1971. His sustainable farming practices started with the Center for Rural Affairs Small Farm Energy Project in 1975. The goal of becoming energy self-sufficient prompted him to learn the natural cycles to avoid production costs. Continued education and exposure to sustainable farmers and practices led him to where his entire 385-acre farm is now certified “organic”. To affect more change in the sustainable agriculture community, Martin accepted a position with the Center for Rural Affairs Beginning Farmer/Sustainable Agriculture Project in 1993. Martin is currently the manager of an organic information and support project for individuals and agency staff wanting to learn more about organic production. He continues to operate his farm and often uses it as a demonstration farm for trying new ideas and techniques for others to observe. Prior to retirement, as an employee of the Center Rural Affairs, Martin conducted farmer-based training programs on Carbon Management – Building Soil Quality, Beginning Farmers, and Organic Farming Practices and Requirements. Martin also received extensive training in managing the farm in the face of climate change. He is currently working with a beginning farmer, while maintaining his organic status and raising organic grass-finished beef. Martin and his wife Linda continue to live on the farm in Cedar County where they raised 5 children. They have been Farmers Union Members since 1989, and Martin now holds a seat on the Board for District 7. Locally, Martin also serves on the Cedar Knox Rural Water Advisory Board and is a member of the NFU/HSUS Ag Advisory Committee.
This photo was snapped on Christmas Day, 1927, and shows a brand new office and weigh-scales of the Farmers Union Co-op Association of Fairfield, NE. Since its founding in 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has founded more than 436 cooperatives in Nebraska.
This picture is undated but shows the Farmers Union Livestock Commission at the Omaha Stockyards. The Omaha Stockyards is where the former Nebraska Farmers Union headquarters was located before it moved to Lincoln, NE.
Former Nebraska Farmers Union President Neil Oxton (right) is pictured with former NE Governor Charles Thone (seated) and former Secretary of State Alan Beerman at the official signing ceremony of Initiative 300 in 1982. I-300, the strongest state ban on corporate farming in the nation, was proposed and spearheaded by Nebraska Farmers Union.
This picture was taken in 2011 at an NeFU Board Meeting and features NeFU Directors from left to right: District 4 Director Vern Jantzen, District 2 Director Roy Stoltenberg, District 3 Director Gale Lush, NeFU President John Hansen, District 7 Director Martin Kleinschmit, District 6 Director Dennis Buse, and District 5 Director Dan McGuire. NeFU has four board meetings per year.
NFU President Roger Johnson and NeFU President John Hansen deliver the Golden Triangle Award to Senator Ben Nelson at the 2010 Fall Fly-In. The Golden Triangle Award is given to members of the Congressional Delegation that have high voting records on family farm and ranch issues. Twice a year farmers and ranchers from all over the country meet in Washington DC to talk to their representatives about current issues facing the production agriculture industry.
The National Farmers Union Convention was held at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in LaVista, NE is March 2012. Despite Nebraska’s long tradition of hosting National Farmers Union Conventions, this was the first time NeFU was the host state since 1973. This picture includes many of the NeFU members present at the 2012 Convention.
NeFU President John K. Hansen, NeFU District 3 Director Gale Lush, and District 5 Director Dan McGuire sign the Power Purchase Agreement for the Crofton Hills C-BED Wind Project on April 22, 2008.
NeFU District 6 Director Graham Christensen, Member John Goeller, and NeFU District 5 Director Ben Gotschall present Senator Ken Haar with a book about the Sandhills. This book was signed by people all over the State of Nebraska that would be affected by the Keystone XL Pipeline and given to the Senator as a thank you for standing with Nebraska landowners and calling for the 2011 Legislative Special Session that set up a process for future oil pipelines in Nebraska.
Nebraska Farmers Union President John K Hansen (far right) receives applause for his remarks at a press conference during the 2002 Farm Aid Concert near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pictured to his left are John Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers of America; Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director of Farm Aid; and Farm Aid founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young.
Farmers Union members take some time for a picture at the Farmers Union Livestock Commission in Sioux City, IA. This picture is also undated.