Share Your Story Today

Post by: Doug Sombke, SDFU President & Conde farmer

During the National Farmers Union Fly-In, South Dakota Farmers Union members met with congressional leaders and staff from across the nation. Here SDFU members meet with a congressional aide from Florida to explain how the current trade war is impacting South Dakota’s family farmers.

Just this morning a local banker stopped by to visit about the impact tariffs, on top of the already low markets, are having on his clients.

What he shared with me, lines up with the impacts on our family’s farm as well as what I have been hearing from other South Dakota farmers and ranchers.

I asked him to share his story with our leaders in Washington, DC. and, spread the word, asking other bankers to step up and request that the money coming from these tariffs go to ag relief.

Those dollars should not go to the general fund. They need to go to farmers and rural communities that are being devastated by a choice that wasn’t theirs. Today, whether you’re a farmer who votes Republican, Democrat or any other party, times are tough.

I take the role I’ve been elected to seriously. It is one of service to South Dakota family farmers and ranchers, who happen to represent both political parties. As a grassroots organization, politics does not drive our policy, our members do. Regardless of which party is in office, I believe it is my duty to speak up when something has a negative impact on our members.

As I see it, the situation we are in is worse than any hurricane. Hurricanes are natural disasters. This is a disaster that was chosen by a President with no plan B.

This was alluded to during our recent visit with Senator Thune’s aides. They basically admitted the President started the trade war with no thought to the degree of which it would impact farmers.

The results have far reaching impacts. The tariffs impact not only farmers, but bankers, implement dealers and Main Street businesses. The current situation reinforces the fact that when you grow something from the earth, everyone is touched by it.

Sharing our stories in DC during the NFU Fly-In is always important – but, this year, it was huge.

As we visited with Thune’s team, I was surprised to hear that as they traveled the state this summer, attending county fairs and the South Dakota State Fair, they said they had not heard of the challenges from farmers and ranchers.

I didn’t ask it at the time, but the question I now have is, where did they spend their time and who did they visit with during these fairs? Because, I spent time at the fairs in the hog, sheep and beef barns, where I heard plenty of stories of challenging times.

I am disappointed in how Representative Kristi Noem handled the recent Presidential visit. Instead of taking advantage of this visit by President Trump to South Dakota to create an opportunity to show him how dire things actually are in agriculture, she simply stood by, while donors spent $5000 to have their photo taken with the President.

Who knows, if she had done her part, maybe introduced him to one or two farmers who are struggling, maybe his response would not have been so cold when he was asked by the KELO reporter what he wants to say to family farmers who may lose their farms this season.

“Well, they would’ve lost them anyway because they were being hurt so badly by the trade barriers. We will tell you they are going to be in a very good position soon.”

Supporting family farmers and ranchers is what Noem ran on – and continues to run on. It doesn’t matter what her party is, she represents all South Dakota farmers and ranchers.

Just like SDFU membership represents both political parties, she should too.

YOUR stories make a difference

During the Fly-In, I was interviewed by KWAT. During the interview the reporter said, “I’m sure its great that you are out there so that individuals who used to be on farms or have families still working on farms, get to hear from people like you.” I said, “No, it’s even more important that we speak to people who have never been on a farm or never visited a rural community understand that we are people too and how important we are to this country.”

Due to the fact that we don’t have a farm bill in place, and, we are in such a bad spot in ag today (the nicest way to put it) – again I’m going to say, we need a special package for agriculture relief.

We need to ask that money from tariffs goes to the American farmer and rancher. We need relief beyond the package the President put together.

When we met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, he said there would be no more aid.

That answer is unacceptable.

I am currently in conversations with National Farmers Union, asking that they request a new, separate aid package.

Make your voice heard

In times like these, it is important that we have a voice. Farmers Union gives us a voice. And, I call on all of you to share your story with our South Dakota congressional representatives. We need to share our stories and let them know they have our support to make a difference for South Dakota agriculture.

Encourage your banker, neighbors and friends to share their story with our congressional leaders as well.

Here’s how to reach them:

Senator John Thune
Phone: (202) 224-2321


Senator Mike Rounds
Phone: (202) 224-5842


Representative Kristi Noem

Phone: (202) 225-2801


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