ROCHESTER, N.Y. – More than 3,000 people recently visited Rochester, N.Y., for the 138th National Grange Convention, traveling from 40 states, including Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
During the course of the weeklong convention, Grange members forming policies on a variety of issues including Medicare reform, same sex marriage, stem cell research, and federal student loan initiatives.
The Grange also advocates for the small farmer and has worked to promote agricultural programs including animal identification, crop insurance, and farm credit.
“This is a critical time for agriculture, and the Grange wants to help farmers secure better futures, as well as advocate for all Americans,” National Grange President William Steel said.
“We are working to address those issues by demanding that our voice is heard,” added the Beaver County, Pa., resident.
Heritage. Seven farmers founded the National Grange in 1867 to unite Southern and Northern farmers after the Civil War.
In the 20th century, the Grange helped develop federal farm programs, organized farm cooperatives, credit unions, mutual insurance companies and other consumer-owned enterprises and extended the benefits of electrification, telephone service and federal highway projects to all Americans.
Current emphasis. In 2004, the Grange developed a program to educate seniors about the changes in Medicare legislation. Since May, the Grange has taught more than 100,000 rural and suburban citizens how to apply for a Medicare-approved prescription drug discount card.
The organization has also taken an aggressive stance on Congress’s inability to pass renewable energy legislation.
The Grange has also been outspoken about Congress’s snail-like pace in reforming the Endangered Species Act.
On tap. In 2005, the Grange will become more vocal about the state of health care in the United States. It will team up with other organizations to educate the uninsured about their options.
Although the Grange is a national force, it is also concerned with building stronger communities and enriching the lives of people in towns and cities everywhere.
“The Grange lives in the community,” Steel said. “It is about people helping people.”
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