FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2016
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (March 6, 2016) – The diversity of modern agriculture is the result of the hardworking men and women across the industry, and two individuals have selflessly gone above and beyond for the betterment of food, farming and rural America. The National Farmers Union (NFU) recognized Claudia Svarstad and Brother David Andrews (posthumously) at the 114th Anniversary Convention opening banquet, Saturday, with the Meritorious Service Award for their outstanding leadership and service.
“I am humbled to represent an industry with dedicated individuals who demonstrate an unselfish commitment to service in their communities. Both Claudia and Brother Andrews have been lifelong humanitarians, strong supporters of family farm agriculture, and I’m proud to say, friends of the Farmers Union. It is my honor to recognize them both with this award,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
“As advocates for the interests of family farmers and ranchers as well as their communities, it is important to our mission as an organization that we recognize those who work to aid progress in rural America,” he added.
The Meritorious Service Award is the highest honor the NFU Board of Directors can bestow on an individual. Svarstad and Brother Andrews join past recipients, including former Members of Congress and a former United States President, who have made particularly noteworthy contributions to agriculture, humanity and the Farmers Union at the state and national levels.
About the Recipients
Claudia Svarstad lent 40 years of service to both the National Farmers Union and Farmers Union Insurances, serving as vice president and president and CEO, respectively. In her tenure, much of her efforts focused on improving nutrition and fighting hunger and AIDS in rural and underserved communities. Her leadership was inspiring to many women leaders, and she served as a mentor ensuring women had a strong voice in the organization and American agriculture. For many years, Svarstad has represented NFU as a board member to the Alliance to End Hunger.
Brother David Andrews served as Executive Director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Through his work, he was actively involved in protecting small-scale farmers by advocating for stronger enforcement of antitrust regulations. Brother Andrews served also as a senior advisor to Miguel D’ Escoto, president of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, and met with Vatican leaders to address world hunger and humanity issues. He served as a spiritual leader at several NFU conventions, and spent his life advocating for family farmers and their communities until his passing in January 2015.
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.