News

South Dakota Farmers, Ranchers & Rural Youth Visit Legislators Today for South Dakota Farmers Union Legislative Day

February 12, 2016

When you're 15 politics can be confusing. South Dakota's Legislature is now more understandable for the South Dakota teens who attended the South Dakota Farmers Union Legislative Day today. They joined family farmers, ranchers and rural business owners who also participated in the annual event.

 "It's cool to see the process first hand and really understand what happens behind the scenes," says Hannah Sumption, 15 and a student at Frederick Area High School. "I have heard about it on the news, but until I got to sit in on committee meetings and Session today, I didn't really understand how everything worked."

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Last Modified: 02/12/2016 9:00:41 am MST


Sturgis Rancher attends National Farmers Union 2016 Women's Conference

February 12, 2016

Initials and brands cover the inside wall of a barn on the Sturgis ranch Mary Ellen Cammack operates with her husband, Randy.

 "It started back when my dad was doing daily chores. If you helped him milk and feed bucket calves, he would carve your name or initials into the barn wall," she explains.

The family continues the tradition of raising quality Hereford cattle on the ranch. When family and friends visit, they ask to contribute to the wall - it's become a tradition of sorts. After attending the National Farmers Union Women's Conference recently, Cammack says the barn will be getting some new text - her family ranch's mission statement.

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Last Modified: 02/12/2016 8:59:27 am MST


Jr. REAL: South Dakota Farmers Union Continues to Cultivate Leaders in South Dakota's Youth

February 5, 2016

Six Wolsey/Wesssington High School students learned how to protect their credit score and earned a cash prize from South Dakota Farmers Union as winners of the Making $ense of Credit and Finance PSA Competition.

 The winning team includes the following students: Devon Metter, Jamie Cutshaw, Zach Reilly, Matt Larsen, Justin Clark and Judd King.

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Last Modified: 02/05/2016 8:32:25 am MST


S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Birgen Farm Family

January 26, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state’s number one industry and help feed the world.

 By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union; Photos by Kathy Birgen

 Like most South Dakota farm families 50 years ago, the Birgen’s farm resembled that of the Old McDonald nursery rhyme.

 “We raised cattle, chickens, sheep, had milk cows and stock cows ­ but back then, everyone did. You sold cream and eggs,” recalls Matt Birgen, an 86-year-old Korean War Veteran, who together with his wife, Maureen, farmed and raised their seven children on the land he bought near Beresford with combat pay in 1955.

To learn more about the Birgen family, and view a photo gallery, click here.

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Last Modified: 01/26/2016 2:30:11 pm MST


S.D. Farmers Union Young Producers Event Encourages Next Generation to Explore Sustainability

January 20, 2016

HURON, S.D. - Ranching is deeply rooted in Mark Hollenbeck's family. His great-grandparents homesteaded in Dakota Territory, however, as one of seven children, Hollenbeck grew up understanding that if ranching was in his future, he would have to take an unconventional route to get there.

 "It took a lot of unconventional ideas in order for me to get into the ranching business because unlike the vast majority of people who are ranching these days, inheriting the land wasn't an option available to me," explains Hollenbeck, who runs an organic cow/calf-finisher herd and a vacation rental property, Sunrise Ranch Lodge, near Edgemont.

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Last Modified: 01/20/2016 7:54:18 am MST


Sec. of Ag. Tom Vilsack Appoints two South Dakota Farmers Union Members to Serve on Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board

December 23, 2015

Two S.D. Farmers Union members were appointed by Sec. of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack Dec. 22, 2015, to serve on the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, they are Union Center rancher, Tammy Basel and Frederick cattleman, Eric Sumption.

 "Secretary Vilsack made a good choice. Tammy and Eric live and breathe the cattle industry. Combined, they have extensive experience in all areas of the cattle industry as well as experience in promoting the industry by serving on state and national boards," said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.

 Farmers Union is one of the organizations which nominated Basel and Sumption, the two South Dakotan cattle producers appointed to serve with 100 producers from across the nation.

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Last Modified: 12/23/2015 1:08:36 pm MST


A Century Strong! Members Turn Out for 2015 Centennial State Convention

December 23, 2015

We are 100-years-old and have a lot to celebrate, said S.D. Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke of the organization's Centennial State Convention where nearly 500 members turned out to celebrate and provide policy direction for the future, Dec. 9-10, 2015, in Huron.

 "Celebrating 100 years is amazing, especially in this day and age when many organizations are struggling with membership numbers ­ just trying to survive ­ and we continue to thrive," says Mary Ellen Cammack, a cow/calf producer from Sturgis, who ranches with her husband Randy and drove to Huron with her adult daughters, Shelby Cammack and Paige Komes, who remain actively involved in production agriculture, managing their own cattle herds on their family's ranch and working as AI technicians.

 The Cammacks are currently participating in the 2016 Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program, which was developed to substantiate and empower future leaders for rural America and Farmers Union by providing training and hands-on experiences that enable couples to become knowledgeable leaders

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Last Modified: 12/23/2015 9:51:12 am MST


Ranch Family sees Past as Part of the Future

December 23, 2015

Ranch Family sees Past as Part of the Future

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state’s number one industry and help feed the world.

By Alica P. Thiele for South Dakota Farmers Union; Photos by Darcy Krick Photography & Kecia Beranek, SDFU Communications Specialist

The Yost family of Gann Valley are dedicated to ranching for the long haul.

In hard times and good, four generations have pushed on, raising cattle and growing crops to sustain their herd.

Ben and Anastasia “Stacey” Knippling settled on the family ranch in 1930 with their only child, Paul. When Paul married Margaret Lobban in 1948, they built their home next to Paul’s parents and raised four children on the ranch. Paul and Margaret’s oldest daughter, Kathy, and her husband, Chuck Yost, joined the operation in 1973 and raised their five children on the ranch.

Now their boys ­ Charley, Wade and Rodney Yost ­ ranch with their parents and are looking forward to one day passing the land on to their children.

“In ranching, you get satisfaction in knowing you’re leaving something behind,’ Rodney said.

It’s not always easy. In the Dirty Thirties and the farm crisis of the 1980s, and more recently, during the Great Recession years, family members have made necessary sacrifices to keep the ranch running and thriving.

In the 1980s, some land purchased 10 years earlier needed to be sold, Kathy said. Chuck took day work and she got her degree in education so she could teach school. The couple’s daughters, Christie and Stacey, were top hands on the ranch until they married. They now ranch with their husbands. The boys all have outside incomes, but the land is “the heart of what it’s all about,” Rodney said.

Ben Knippling created the distinctive ax design that the family continues to use as their brand, and that is the reason the ranch is affectionately known as the Broadaxe Ranch. To learn more about the Yost family, and view a photo gallery, click here.

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Last Modified: 12/23/2015 8:55:46 am MST


Nancy Mueller Receives Minnie Lovinger Esteemed Educator Award

December 18, 2015

 S.D. Farmers Union Davison County Education Director, Nancy Mueller was recognized for her years of dedicated service to South Dakota Farmers Union Youth Programming with the Minnie Lovinger Esteemed Educator Award during the Centennial Convention held Dec. 9-10, 2015 in Huron.

"Nancy Mueller has made great contributions to the success and longevity of the South Dakota Farmers Union Youth Program," said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director during the presentation ceremony.

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Last Modified: 12/18/2015 7:08:26 am MST


Agriculture Producers from Reliance, Britton & Union Center Elected to Represent at National Farmers Union Convention

December 14, 2015

Four agriculture producers were selected to represent South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers during the South Dakota Farmers Union centennial convention held in Huron last week Dec. 9-10.

 "Farmers Union is a grassroots organization, all policy - state and national - begins with our members at the state level. These delegates will represent South Dakota during the National Farmers Union Convention," explained Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

 Elected by the membership, these delegates will represent the states more than 17,000 Farmers Union members during the National Farmers Union Convention held March 5-8, 2016 in Minneapolis. The delegates include: Lorrie Hanson, , Britton; Jason Hanson, Animal Science major at North Dakota State, Britton; David Reis, cow/calf producer from Reliance and Steve Harwood, cattle producer, Union Center.

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Last Modified: 12/14/2015 1:32:43 pm MST