S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates our State's Family Farmers & Ranchers, Rural Youth & Community Heroes During the 2016 S.D. State Fair

August 26, 2016

Farmers Union Day at the 2016 South Dakota State Fair, Saturday Sept. 3, is a great opportunity to showcase South Dakota family farmers and ranchers and all they do for the state's economy, rural communities and the world.

 "In the tradition of the State Fair, Farmers Union Day honors the cream of the crop," explains Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President.

 "Whether it's honoring those who give back to rural communities with the Rural Dakota Pride Award, recognizing the work that our family farmers and ranchers put into raising food and fuel through the Farmers Share Luncheon or youth who will compete in the Team Up For Safety Farm Safety Championship." Rural Dakota Pride Awards The 2016 Rural Dakota Pride Award goes to four individuals to recognize their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state. 

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Last Modified: 08/26/2016 8:00:41 am MDT

2016 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Winners Announced

August 26, 2016

The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, have announced the recipients of the annual Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarships.

Twenty-five high school seniors from across South Dakota will share $25,000 in scholarships to be used to further their education at a South Dakota post-secondary school. Over the past eight years, the Foundation has awarded more than $175,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools.

Each of the 25 scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 to put toward their post-secondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school. The recipients were chosen from among a large pool of applicants. They were scored based on a combination of academic record, activities and awards, financial need, and an essay relating to how they will "Insure a Brighter Tomorrow" in South Dakota.

Farmers Union Insurance agents throughout the state fund this scholarship program administered by the Farmers Union Foundation. "Our insurance agents are committed to building a brighter future in South Dakota," said Jason Wells, Regional Manager of Farmers Union Insurance Agency. "This is a remarkable group and they make me excited about the future of our great state. We're choosing to invest in these outstanding individuals to help them pursue their goals and aspirations. 

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Last Modified: 08/26/2016 7:56:01 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Vedvei Farm Family

August 24, 2016

Emerging from the show ring with a big smile, first time 4-Her, Hadlee Holt, 9, was greeted by her parents, Corrie “Vedvei” and DJ Holt, with a big hug and sighs of relief.

 It was nerve-racking to watch, but seeing that smile was priceless,” explains Corrie of watching her daughter show for the first time.

 A third-generation 4-H alumnus, Corrie says it’s exciting to see her daughter continue the family legacy of 4-H involvement and showing registered Charolais cattle.

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Last Modified: 08/24/2016 7:53:29 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke Wishes Noem Remained on the House Agriculture Committee

August 22, 2016

I was quite surprised when I read quotes made by Representative Kristi Noem in a recent Watertown Public Opinion article where she attempts to justify her move from the House Agriculture Committee to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. She stated, "all of the ag organizations in the state advocated and supported me getting on the Ways and Means Committee."

 I am confused by this comment, because although I knew Noem was making the move, and I understand that for her political career this is a great move for her, as a representative of one of the state's largest agriculture organizations, I did not and do not support her move because it is not in the best interest of South Dakota's number one industry of agriculture.

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Last Modified: 08/22/2016 9:47:57 am MDT

S.D. Farmers Union is Disappointed in Lack of Support for Hurting Dairy Farmers

August 5, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke is disappointed in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) and its inability to provide a safety net for dairy producers in a current commodity crisis.

 "Congress needs to act quickly to fix what is wrong with the Margin Protection Program for Dairy - similar to how they reacted to the cotton industry crisis earlier this spring," said Doug Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde farmer. "After talking with South Dakota dairy farmers, many will not even receive $200 from this disaster payment."

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Last Modified: 08/05/2016 10:30:37 am MDT

Farmers Union 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council Members Selected to Serve

August 2, 2016

The 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council members include: AJ Schoenfelder, Parkston; Abbey Tschetter, Huron; Cole Van Gorp, Stickney; Jonah Murtha, Parkston; Shaun Snedeker, Woonsocket; and Madelyn Kline, Huron.

 During the 2016 State Leadership Camp, a six-member Junior Advisory Council was selected by the Youth and Education Council to serve as leaders, role models and representatives in planning and conducting the 2017 State Leadership Camp.

 The 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council (JAC) who were announced during State Camp include: Cole Van Gorp, Corsica; Shaun Snedeker, Stickney; AJ Schoenfelder, Parkston; Madelyn Kline, Huron; Jonah Murtha, Parkston; and Abbey Tschetter, Huron.

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Last Modified: 08/02/2016 7:50:04 am MDT

30-For-30 Celebrates Home-Grown, Renewable Fuel in Pierre

July 28, 2016

South Dakota Farmers will be hosting a 30-For-30 event at Cowboy Country Store in Pierre (1619 N. Harrison Ave) August 3, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to celebrate the benefits of fueling up with Premium E30.

 During the 30-For-30 event, drivers receive .30 cents for every gallon of Premium E30 purchased.

Fueling up with 30 percent blend of ethanol not only saves folks money, but it supports South Dakota's family farmers who market their corn to the state's many ethanol plants," explained Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.

 Sombke adds, "Premium E30 gives drivers of all makes and models a higher octane, renewable fuel resulting in increased fuel economy without the dangers of Benzene, a carcinogenic used to increase octane levels."

 Since the beginning, South Dakota Farmers Union has been a strong advocate for the ethanol industry. "We're a grassroots organization who is focused on supporting family farmers and ranchers," explains Kecia Beranek, SDFU Communications Specialist.

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Last Modified: 07/28/2016 8:19:47 am MDT

Farmers Union State Leadership Camp Promotes Friends, Self Confidence, Leadership & Cooperative Education

July 27, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union State Leadership Camp is a summer tradition for Jonah Murtha, 17. 

 Since he was 12, the Parkston High School senior has made the trek west to Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City to spend a week engaged in hands-on cooperative education, personal leadership development and reconnecting with friends he has made from across South Dakota.

 "The people I have met here have become life-long friends," explains Murtha, who gained leadership experience serving as president of the camp's coffee cooperative. "Leadership camp has also given me a better understanding of cooperatives. I think they are very interesting because they help solve problems and provide necessities to rural communities."

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Last Modified: 07/27/2016 8:16:36 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Painter Ranch Family

July 25, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Painter Ranch Family

By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union

Running cattle on Harding County grasslands has been a part of the Painter Family legacy since 1895 when great-grandpa, Lewis Levi Painter, rode the open range as a horse wrangler for the CY Cattle Company of Texas.

“He ran a few cows with the main herd and squatted on this land until about

1910 when he filed homesteading paperwork,” explained Lewis’ great-grandson, Joe Painter, 56.

Like the four generations of Painters before him, Joe continues to run cattle and ride the range along with his wife, Cindy, and their two daughters, Jessica and Joey, and their families. Their son, PJ, 29, works as an attorney in Louisville, Ky.

“Having our kids return to the ranch is the best thing in the world,” says the Harding County rancher. “Otherwise, all those years of working extra hard to buy land and cattle would be for nothing. When you have the kids return home, you have someone to pass it on to and that makes everything worth it.” “It’s what we worked for all our lives,” Cindy adds.

When Joe mentions hard work, he’s not stretching the truth. It was 1983 when he and Cindy returned to ranch fulltime after college. “Interest was 18 to 24 percent. Money was impossible to come by. We didn’t spend a nickel unless it was absolutely necessary,” Joe says. “A neighbor’s ranch came up for sale, $30 an acre, but we had no money to buy it. That’s how tight it was in the 80s.” Cindy shared another example of a time that the bank loaned them money to purchase sheep but then wouldn’t loan them money to buy feed.

To read more click here 

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Last Modified: 07/25/2016 9:28:06 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Offers $2,500 Agricultural Graduate School Scholarship

July 20, 2016

Applications for the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Graduate School Scholarship are now available at

 The Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship is designed to help retain talent in South Dakota to support South Dakota's agriculture industry. It is open to students from South Dakota, pursuing a graduate degree in research, animal science, agriculture business or agriculture education at an accredited South Dakota school.

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Last Modified: 07/20/2016 8:38:54 am MDT