2018 S.D. Farmers Union Young Producer Event to be Held in Sioux Falls July 13-14

May 16, 2018

Farmers, ranchers and their spouses are invited to the 2018 S.D. Farmers Union Young Producer Event to be held in Sioux Falls July 13 and 14 at no cost to members and $50 to non-members.

 "This event is one of the best programs we sponsor," says Chad Johnson, 45, a crop and cattle farmer and District 7 board member.

 Johnson shares how the Young Producers Event he and his wife, Michelle, attended a few years back made a positive and lasting impact on their family farm. During the event, they listened to an expert discuss farm and ranch transition and estate planning. After the event, Johnson invited the speaker to his farm to visit with his dad and mom.

 "Prior to the event, every time I brought up the topic of a transition plan with my parents, my dad would get uncomfortable and change the subject. It was kind of taboo," Johnson explains. "After we learned about the tax ramifications of not having a plan, we shared those with Dad and he was open to a discussion."

 More discussions and official paperwork followed. "We had our succession plan set up and some wills drawn up in case something happened," Johnson says. "It was a good thing too, because my dad passed away this July of cancer. I'm glad we had those talks out of the way, and out in the open with the family ahead of time, so we didn't have to worry."

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Last Modified: 05/16/2018 7:51:45 am MDT

Celebrate Farm & Ranch Moms this Mother's Day

May 7, 2018

As we reflect on the women who raised us this Mother's Day, South Dakota Farmers Union would like to celebrate the many women who support the state's No. 1 industry - farm and ranch moms!

 by Lura Roti for SDFU

"It's such a short time in their life and yours when you get to be with your kids and have an influence in their life. It feels like you blink and they are grown."

Karli McCance, Dallas, South Dakota, farm wife, and small business owner, mother of three, exchange mom to three    

 The more the merrier" would be a good phrase to describe Karli McCance's take on children.

 "The more kids around the better," McCance says. She explains that when her mostly grown children were young, many of their friends would want to spend time out in the country so, there were always a lot of kids hanging out on the family's Dallas farm.

 In fact, for several years, the McCance family welcomed exchange students through Education First. "Hosting an exchange student gives you a bond from across the world and brings other cultures into your home - we have gained several family members for life," says McCance, who serves as the local exchange coordinator, helping place students from other countries with families in their community.

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Last Modified: 05/07/2018 8:48:03 am MDT

Current Farm Bill Doesn't Work For Farmers

May 2, 2018

Column by Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union 

 As South Dakota family farmers and ranchers we work each day to feed the families of millions of Americans. And yet, when I review our current Farm Bill, I am disappointed because it does not provide the protections we need to ensure that in disaster we are able to earn enough to feed our own families.

 Although many throughout the agriculture industry agree, some are afraid to say anything because they don't want changes to the current Farm Bill to take away what minimal protections are in place.

 I call on all of us to EXPECT MORE OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. Agriculture is South Dakota's No. 1 industry and critical to our nation's national security. South Dakota Farmers Union, together with National Farmers Union calls upon our elected officials to create a Farm Bill that supports the population it is intended to serve.

 First, I ask Representative Kristi Noem to VOTE NO on the House farm bill in its current form. Please work to change the Farm Bill to better serve South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers.

 Together with Noem, I also call on South Dakota's Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune to encourage changes to the farm bill so that it does the following:

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Last Modified: 05/02/2018 7:12:58 am MDT

SD Farmers Union Celebrates the Gonsoir Ranch Family of Groton

May 1, 2018

By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union

 Kristen Gonsoir's first horse was a small, naughty pony a neighbor offloaded for the horse-crazed 5-year-old to love. When its cantankerous nature didn't deter their daughter's affection, Kristen's parents bought her the real deal - a mare named Cinnamon. 

 Kristen trained Cinnamon for 4-H reining competitions and by the time she was 12, the bourgeoning horsewoman was ready to try her hand at horse breeding.

 "I insisted my parents take me to a special equine reproduction clinic at SDSU. Here I was, not quite a teen, in a room full of adults. I took notes and asked questions," recalls the AQHA Professional Horseman, AQHA Specialized Judge, POAc Judge and Quarter Horse breeder. 

 Her parents helped her locate a stallion and Kristen found her calling. 

 "I have always loved horses, but it's the breeding that is my favorite part because it's the science aspect combined with horse aspect," explains the high school chemistry instructor and young grandma, who enjoys sharing her first love with her greatest love - her family - husband, Tim, son, Stan, 29, his wife, Madeleine, and grandson, Dayton, 2, and daughter, Joellen Miller, 22, and her husband, Jordan. "It was fun family time together, whether it's riding together or we're going to a horse show or rodeo." 

To read more, click here

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Last Modified: 05/01/2018 7:25:26 am MDT

FFA Youth Team Up for Safety & Win

April 25, 2018

Farm safety is not a topic to take lightly, explains high school junior, Peter Rausch.

 "I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend to a farm accident," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."

 Rausch, a member of the Hoven FFA Chapter, was among more than 80 FFA members who participated in the S.D. Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl during the 2018 S.D. State FFA Convention held in Brookings, April 14-16.

 Hoven FFA Chapter quiz bowl team is one of four that qualified to compete in the championship quiz bowl which will be held at the 2018 South Dakota State Fair during Farmers Union Day.

 The other teams who qualified include the following FFA chapters: Parker FFA, Tri-Valley FFA and Wessington Springs.

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Last Modified: 04/25/2018 7:31:52 am MDT

SDFU Now Taking Nominations for 2018 Rural Dakota Pride Awards

April 12, 2018

HURON, S.D. - During the Sturgis Rally, Jeff Kreun, the owner of Kreun Kustom, an upholstery shop that specializes in customized motorcycle seats and auto interiors, can be seen visiting with thousands of bike enthusiasts and taking orders. But to Kreun, custom upholstery is more than an income, he also uses his talents to engage teens.

 For several years now, Kreun has been involved in bike build projects designed to spark teens' interest in mechanics. He also helps engineering students from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with contests.

 When asked why a small business owner makes time to help youth learn the skill of sewing he says, "I guess I see the world around us and most kids have a screen in front of them. I am appalled by this. It's exciting to see kids passionate about something tangible. When I see a kid light up when he creates something with his hands, it reminds me of myself when I was young."

 During the 2017 S.D. State Fair, S.D. Farmers Union (SDFU) recognized Kreun with the Dakota Rural Pride Award. Today, SDFU asks South Dakotans to nominate folks like Kreun, who give back to their communities, for the 2018 Rural Dakota Pride Award. Nominees do not need to be members of SDFU.

 Each year, SDFU recognizes five individuals who give back to their rural communities with the Rural Dakota Pride Award.

 "Rural communities depend on these everyday heroes. They are the people who do what needs to be done," says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of South Dakota SDFU.

 As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Hofhenke explains that SDFU understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota's number one industry and their rural communities.

 "One survives with the other," she says. "Without thriving communities, it's difficult to encourage young people to return to their family's farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota's agriculture industry; which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive."

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Last Modified: 04/12/2018 7:43:33 am MDT

Times Are Tough on the Farm & Politics Aren't Helping

April 5, 2018

HURON, S.D. - Times are tough on South Dakota's family farms and ranches and politics aren't helping, says S.D. Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke.

 "As a farmer, I've been told to get my prices from the market, yet this administration is creating an atmosphere that reduces demand, pushing down prices for my commodities and launching a trade war with one of our largest soybean importers that will further hurt prices. All the while, the protections we do have in the current Farm Bill are being threatened," Sombke says.

 Sombke's comments are a response to the Environmental Protection Agency April 3 decision to exempt one of the nation's largest oil refining companies from complying with the Renewable Fuels Standard regulation, which will have a negative impact on the state's corn producers; the current trade war with China and, a threat made on federally secured crop insurance.

 As president of one of the state's largest agriculture organizations, Sombke visits daily with family farmers and ranchers who make up the state's number one industry of agriculture - and the conversations are discouraging.

 "The farm economy is bad, really bad right now. Farmers are going backwards fast. We need this administration to stop developing policies and strategies that create economic pain for our family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities," says Sombke, who understands what is happening to farmers because He is also a fourth-generation crop and livestock producer whose grown sons now manage the day-to-day activities of the family's Conde farm.

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Last Modified: 04/05/2018 7:26:04 am MDT

Lake Area Technical Institute Joins S.D. Farmers Union for College Conference on Cooperatives

April 3, 2018

HURON, S.D. - Traditionally, when cooperatives come to mind most people think agriculture. For Bailey Miles and other students attending the College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC) in Minneapolis that is far from the case.

 "This conference reminded me that cooperatives have so much variety and serve so many different purposes," says Miles, who is pursuing a commodity merchandising degree from Lake Area Technical Institute.

 Hosted by National Farmers Union, the three-day seminar works to accomplish just that.

 "Cooperatives play an important role in strengthening rural and urban economies and communities across the country. NFU's CCOC engages tomorrow's agricultural leaders in applying cooperative business principles and learning about opportunities available to them through the cooperative model," says NFU President Roger Johnson.

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Last Modified: 04/03/2018 8:05:37 am MDT

S.D. Farmers Union Supports Rural Energy for America Program with Letter of Support

March 27, 2018

National, regional and state associations and groups, including South Dakota Farmers Union, have signed on to a letter urging Agriculture Committee leaders and members in both the House and Senate to support the inclusion of the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program with increased or maintained mandatory funding in the next Farm Bill.
S.D. Farmers Union President Doug Sombke issued the following statement in support of the program:
“REAP has made tremendous impact on South Dakota family farmers, ranchers, small business owners and their ability to produce clean energy, cutting energy cost and stimulating development in previously struggling rural communities. Rural economies are being faced with a multiyear slump in the farm economy, so it is vital optional revenue streams are available to increase farm incomes. Increasing or maintaining REAP helps ensure that the programs benefits will be available to more rural South Dakotan in years to come.”

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Last Modified: 03/27/2018 10:11:35 am MDT

S.D. Farmers Union Welcomes Rocky Forman to Serve as Member Services Coordinator

March 26, 2018

Rocky Forman recently joined South Dakota Farmers Union as the Member Services Coordinator.

 "We are excited to have Rocky join our team. He has enthusiasm for service to South Dakota's agriculture producers and agribusiness people," says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

 As Member Services Coordinator, Forman will organize the S.D. Farmers Union Young Producers Program, facilitate Farm Safety Trailer programming and engage in other outreach programming for members and non-members throughout South Dakota.

 "I enjoy helping people and look forward to sharing the South Dakota Farmers Union message of farm safety, as well as other agriculture-based programming with agriculture producers, their families and individuals throughout South Dakota," Forman says.

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Last Modified: 03/26/2018 9:23:16 am MDT

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