The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation

Our Beginning

The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation, was founded in 1999 to receive government and foundation grants on behalf of its cooperative education efforts. The SDFU Foundation’s parent organization, South Dakota Farmers Union, founded in 1915, is an advocacy organization for farms and ranches and for a stronger South Dakota economy. SDFU has pioneered rural economic development initiatives through the formation of rural cooperative elevators, oil companies, electric associations, and water and telephone cooperatives to meet the growing needs of South Dakota’s rural citizens, within the limited resources of the state and its citizenry. As an important part of the heritage of South Dakota Farmers Union, SDFU and its approximate 3,000 members, have invested substantial efforts and resources in organizing and conducting its annual camping program, which began over seven decades years ago with the first State Farmers Union Camp, and its educational programs, which found their start in 1920. Involving hundreds of volunteers and educating young people about the benefits, history and innovative strategies of cooperatives has resulted in strengthening the ties between cooperatives, rural communities, and the farmers and ranchers who are the patrons, leaders and managers of these critically important organizations.


The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation is committed to providing education and information that advances the economy of South Dakota. We recognize that young people are our future – the future of farms and ranches, our businesses and our communities. We seek to expand our youth education programs that teach the importance of cooperatives and member-owned operations, develop leadership abilities and cultivate business skills, cultural awareness and the entrepreneurial spirit.


Family farms are a reliable source of affordable, safe food. Our goal is to keep family farms and ranches by helping them to adjust to new circumstances quickly, efficiently and effectively. One way is to help families diversity their operations by supporting value-added agriculture, helping new generation producers get started and identifying new markets. Another way is to help consumers understand how South Dakota family farmers and ranchers produce safe and nutritious food.


People of all ages are leaving the state to find opportunity. That hurts our economy! We’re working hard to reverse this trend by facilitating a public dialogue for economic prosperity. Our efforts are aimed at developing resources and uniting our state to ensure that our citizens are equipped to meet challenges faced by family agriculture, small business, rural health care systems and school districts.

Our Mission Statement

To support programs and advance efforts that further economic prosperity and cultural vitality in rural South Dakota.

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