South Dakota Farmers Union Extremely Disappointed With APHIS Decision to Allow Importation of Beef from Areas with Foot and Mouth Disease

June 30, 2015

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, joins with the National Farmers Union organization in stating his extreme disappointment over the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) decision to allow importation of fresh and chilled beef from regions of Brazil and Argentina which have a history of Foot-and-Mouth Disease.

 "I cannot imagine how APHIS could make such a ruling. This move has potentially devastating consequences for American family farmers and ranchers," said Sombke, also a fourth-generation Conde cattle producer. "I have toured these countries and witnessed first-hand how their health standards fall short of the health standards required of, and implemented by, U.S. cattle producers.

 As President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff continued meeting today, Sombke explains that Farmers Union is concerned due to the highly contagious nature of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), the importation of live animals from South America brings with it the potential spread of the disease to U.S. cattle. "An outbreak could result in not only health safety issues, but also quarantine and eradication of animals, as well as a ban on U.S. beef exports," said Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union. "Overall, this could lead to reduced consumer confidence as well as economically devastating risks to American livestock producers."

 Johnson added. "U.S. farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for the high standards to which livestock herds are raised in this country and our long-standing disease prevention efforts."

 The timing of this decision falls when many Americans are igniting their grills. "With our most patriotic of holidays approaching, Americans will soon be throwing burgers and steaks on their backyard grills. The fact that APHIS is allowing two countries with several reports of this highly contagious livestock disease to import live animals, is very unsettling," Sombke said.

 How FMD impacted European Countries

In 2001, an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in the slaughter or burning of nearly 3 million animals. The epidemic was costly both to farmers and the economy; total losses to agriculture and the food chain amounting to roughly £3.1 billion.

A 2002 study conducted by Purdue University and the Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health at APHIS found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the U.K. in 2001 were to strike the U.S., a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result.

 Delegates of the 113th National Farmers Union Anniversary Convention made animal disease protection a top issue for the general farm organization, noting concerns with weakening disease protection measures in a Special Order of Business to the 2015 NFU Policy.

 "NFU strongly opposes the administration's decision to allow importation of beef from Argentina and Brazil," said Johnson. "The economic livelihood of producers and the health of consumers is critical and at stake."

 NFU has previously submitted comments to APHIS on imports of beef from Northern Argentina and Brazil.

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Last Modified: 06/30/2015 12:06:33 pm MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union joins with National Farmers Union Assures Senate There Remains a Viable Path Forward to Save The Law, Satisfy WTO

June 15, 2015

 South Dakota Farmers Union is disappointed with the June 10 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).

 "The National Farmers Union President said it best, this was a 'disappointing, knee-jerk overreaction'" said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President, quoting NFU President, Roger Johnson.

 Moving forward, Sombke urges the U.S. Senate to continue its thoughtful handling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute. "We are working with Rep. Noem to ensure that our members, South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and consumers don't lose COOL completely," Sombke said. "We are positioning ourselves to fight another day - which is better than having no ground for COOL at all.

 NFU will work with Congress on a clear path forward that will both resolve the WTO dispute and continue to provide consumers with accurate information about the of their food.

 "Instead of allowing members of Congress the opportunity to debate and come to a reasonable solution to deal with the WTO compliance issue, the House has instead given us a reflexive reaction to repeal a very popular labeling law that provides important information to the nation's consumers and is strongly supported by both consumers and family farmers," said Roger Johnson, NFU President. "The House leadership is not interested in any reasonable solutions and blocked all amendments."

 Johnson noted that in past disputes, WTO members found ways to work together to arrive at a resolution that worked for all parties. "Unfortunately, today's action by the U.S. House of Representatives does not work towards a resolution that maintains the integrity of COOL and satisfies WTO obligations. It instead signals an acceptance of defeat when there are still viable alternatives," he said.   

 Johnson said he has faith that calmer heads in the Senate will prevail and allow for discussion about an alternative proposal for moving forward. "We call upon the U.S. Senate to avoid the rush to judgment demonstrated by the House today and work with COOL supporters on a viable alternative that will finally bring this long process to closure," Johnson said.

 He added that family farmers and ranchers across the country appreciated the work of: Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota; Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut; Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Rick Nolan, D-Minnesota; Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky; Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon; Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; and others who stood strong for COOL and the right to know the origin of our food. "We greatly appreciate their continued willingness to stand up for America's consumers and farm families," said Johnson.


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Last Modified: 06/15/2015 9:39:18 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Kolousek Farm Family

June 8, 2015

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Kolousek Farm Family

Celebrating a century of service to South Dakota's farm and ranch families, throughout 2015, South Dakota Farmers Union will highlight members who farm or ranch with their families each month. For the months of May and June, South Dakota Farmers Union features the Kolousek family who raise cattle and farm near Wessington Springs.

 by Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union

Shadowing an engineer for a few days his sophomore year of college was all the exposure Scott Kolousek needed to realize he would be happier building a career on his family's Wessington Springs cattle and crop farm.

"That experience saved me a lot of time pursuing the wrong degree. I quickly figured out that I didn't want an office job, so I switched degrees and graduated with a General Agriculture degree from South Dakota State University," says the fifth generation farmer.

His dad, Dick, also an SDSU graduate, can relate. In 1976, he returned to farm with his dad, Pete, and brother, Raymond. "I enjoy the independence farming provides. I'm able to make my own decisions, work in the fresh air and watch crops and calves grow - this has been a good career for me - so much better than an office job."

Click here to read more

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Last Modified: 06/08/2015 12:02:03 pm MDT

South Dakota Sheep Producers Raise High Quality Wool & Improve Rangeland

June 8, 2015

South Dakota Sheep Producers Raise High Quality Wool & Improve Rangeland

By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union

"There is nothing cuter than a baby lamb," Tammy Basel says as she tears down the last of her lambing pens and walks through a cloud of newly shorn ewes surrounded by their babies.

Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, homesteader, Carrie Wilcox Funell, the fourth-generation South Dakota sheep producer, grew up caring for the flock, which, along with quality meat, has been bred to produce superior wool. "The wool from my sheep is the finest quality and is used for military uniforms - I guess that's one way I give back to my country is through the wool I produce for uniforms."

Basel's flock is not unique, South Dakota's flocks are known for producing high quality, fine wool, says Rita Samuelson, Director of Wool Marketing for the American Sheep Industry Association. "Much of the wool from South Dakota and Montana is fine and used to make dress military uniforms," Samuelson says.

She explains that all wool and textiles used to manufacture military clothing is required by law to come from the U.S.

If the mention of wool clothing makes your skin itch, Samuelson is quick to specify that wool used in clothing is fine and soft. "This isn't your grandmother's wool sweater. This wool is fine, not coarse," she says, further explaining: "Fine wool is like baby's hair; not whiskers."

In addition to dress uniforms, demand for other wool military garments has increased because of the fiber's fire and bacteria resistance. "Wool will help protect a soldier from fire hazards; it will char and not melt on the war-fighter," Samuelson says. "And because it is resistant to bacteria and wicks moisture away, wool keeps soldiers comfortable and reduces odor in the fabric."

Back on Basel's Union Center Ranch, Tammy explains that producing fine wool goes beyond breeding. "Sheep producers have to keep their pastures clean and free of cockleburs and other contaminants, like baling twine."

Basel helps sort the fleeces based on cleanliness each spring as they are sheared. It takes the professional team of shearers only 2 minutes to gently remove the 8 pounds of wool from each ewe.

Like shedding a winter jacket, David Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist, explains that the wool protects the sheep from South Dakota's extreme winter weather. "During a winter storm, I see sheep grazing while the cows are huddled up to stay warm."

However, Samuelson points out that the wool needs to be shorn off before summer's warm temperatures arrive. "Shearing is for the sheep's well being. It's not healthy for them to have 10 to 15 pounds of wool on their back when it's 80 degrees outside."

Once her flock is shorn, Basel loads up the bales of wool and takes them to Center of the Nation Wool, Inc. in Belle Fourche. There, Larry Prager and his team take core samples from each bale of wool and send them off to be analyzed for quality. Based on fiber diameter and cleanliness, Basel is paid a premium for her efforts. "We talk a lot about value-added agriculture. Wool is a great example of adding value to a ranching operation," says Prager, who has served as General Manager of the producer-owned wool cooperative since 1992.

Prager oversees the sale of about 5 million pounds of wool each year which is produced by about 1,500 ranchers from across South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Basel agrees with Prager. "We sell our lambs and calves in the fall, so we look forward to the wool check each spring."

She adds that it's a natural fit to raise the 550-head flock alongside the cattle she raises with her husband, Dallis, and their son, Ryan LaMont. "Sheep are a dual-grazing species - meaning we can graze them alongside our cattle because they prefer to eat different grass species than the cattle," Basel says.

Recent research shows that South Dakota ranchers, like Basel, raise sheep alongside their cattle to balance the grazing pressure among the plant community. "Not only do sheep provide an opportunity to add an enterprise to the existing land resource, but experience shows that when sheep graze with cattle they mimic how the native grassland was utilized in the days of buffalo, encouraging species diversity and improving soil health," says Ollila, who also helps coordinate SheepSD, an SDSU Extension program designed to assist new sheep producers.

To become involved in South Dakota Sheep Grower's Association, contact Basel at 605-985-5205, the organization's President, Max Matthews, 605-490-0726 or visit South Dakota Sheep Grower's Association on Facebook. To learn more about SheepSD, contact Ollila at ~

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Last Modified: 06/08/2015 10:36:35 am MDT

Farmers Union Camp Prepares Generations of Leaders

June 8, 2015

 Farmers Union Camp Prepares Generations of Leaders

 Growing up, chores and fieldwork kept Lorrie Hanson busy on his family's Claremont farm during the summer months. Farmers Union Camp was one of the few exceptions.


"I couldn't wait for camp. I developed friendships I still have today; plus, as I got more involved and served on the Junior Advisory Council, I gained valuable leadership skills which have served me well as an adult and single dad," explains the 37-year-old father of five.


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Last Modified: 06/08/2015 10:28:13 am MDT

Farmers Union Urges Noem to Speak Out Against Repeal of COOL

June 4, 2015

Farmers Union Urges Noem to Speak Out Against Repeal of COOL


A bill to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is expected to be on the House floor next week. South Dakota Farmers Union urges Representative Kristi Noem to speak out against the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

 "For the rights of South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and consumers, we ask Noem to take a stand and speak out, on the House floor, against the House Bill that would repeal COOL," said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President and a fourth-generation Conde cattle producer.

 Sombke explained that without COOL, meat would not be labeled by country of origin. Therefore American consumers would not know where their food comes from. "Our farmers and ranchers take pride in producing a safe, quality product. By taking away labeling rights, consumers have no way of knowing if they are purchasing meat from American producers who follow stringent regulations, or from other countries, where the same regulations may not be followed," he said.

 What can you do?

Sombke encourages South Dakotans to join him and the members of South Dakota Farmers Union in urging Rep. Noem to speak out against the repeal of COOL.

 "Call Noem and let her know COOL is important to our state's consumers and livestock industry. Ask her to take a stand for all South Dakotans," Sombke said.

Call Noem today, the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.

 Want to learn more about COOL? Click here to view our fact sheet. 


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Last Modified: 06/04/2015 3:25:46 pm MDT

Farmers Union 2015 Camp Season Begins!

May 20, 2015

 The first time, Jason Hanson, 17, attended Farmers Union camp; he was holding his dad, Lorrie's hand.

 "It was important to dad that I attend camp because he grew up going to Farmers Union camp and wanted me to share in a similar experience," said Hanson, who will graduate from Britton/Hecla High School this May and plans to attend North Dakota State University to study Animal Science.

 Hanson is one of six teens who are involved in planning the 2015 camps as a member of the Farmers Union Junior Advisory Council.

 "Camp is something I look forward to attending each summer because it is so much fun and I've met some of my best friends there," Hanson said. "Now I get to help younger kids learn and have fun at camp."

 This summer's camp season is gearing up for the 2,000-plus rural youth ages 6 through high school seniors who will be attending one or more of the 58 county day camps; three, three-day district camps and one state leadership camp.

 "We make sure camp is fun, but also informational. It's our hope that through camp, youth learn more about themselves, gain confidence, make friends and glean a clear understanding of the cooperative system, agriculture and farm safety," says Bonnie Geyer, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director.

 Helping Geyer with camp preparations is a team of dedicated district and county education directors, top-notch high school students who make up the Junior Advisory Council and select Torchbearers, who serve as the Senior Advisory Council, along with a team of four energetic summer interns.

 "This is a real team effort," Geyer says.

 Although preparing for camp is a real task, volunteers like Denise Mushitz, District 1 Education Director, says the positive impact camp has on youth makes all the work worth it.

 "It is so rewarding to see a young person come to district camp as a 6-years-old and then watch them develop leadership and social skills as they go through all the stages of the youth program. And, eventually, because I have been involved in many of these young people's lives, they invite me to their weddings," Mushitz explains.

 A third-generation Farmers Union member, Mushitz started attending camp at 6 and credits Farmers Union camp with giving her confidence and a life-long bond with the organization.

 "I was a shy kid, but Farmers Union camp was a place where I could go and be myself. It gave me skills that I use in my job every day," says the middle school teacher who farms and ranches with her husband, John, near Geddes.

 Each year, Mushitz sees kids like her pulled out of their shell and develop life-long friendships. "There are many kids who say they are closer to their Farmers Union friends than their friends from high school."

 Although she is a generation younger than Mushitz, Tyana Gottsleben can relate. Attending Farmers Union camp from the time she was 5, the Philip High School senior cannot wait for the 2015 camp season to begin.

 "I look forward to meeting all the campers as they arrive at camp," says Gottsleben, who will be attending Northern State University this fall pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. "As a young camper I enjoyed meeting new friends and participating in all the fun activities the counselors had planned for us."

 The last few summers Gottsleben, like Hanson, has been the one planning activities as a District camp counselor and is currently one of two college students to serve on the Senior Advisory Council. In this role, she serves as a mentor to the Junior Advisory Council and helps them plan State Leadership Camp.

 "It's always a challenge to find enough time for all the activities we plan for the campers - but somehow we squeeze it all in," Gottsleben says. "Through the Farmers Union camp and serving on the teams who plan camp, I have developed many skills that have helped me be a better leader and have become an independent person.  This will continue to serve me as I leave home for college and pursue a career in education."

 More about 2015 Camps

County Camps: All youth, ages 6 to 13, are invited to attend county Farmers Union day camps. Through interactive activities and crafts, day campers will learn about cooperatives, leadership and agriculture - including farm safety. This year, camps will also focus on activities which celebrate Farmers Union's centennial year.

 The cost is $5 for non-Farmers Union members' children; members' children attend for free.

 During the day camp, campers will participate in games, crafts and other fun activities. Plan for a hands-on fun day that will focus on cooperatives and South Dakota's agriculture industry. 

 Campers are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes for activities.  All campers will receive a free T-shirt, courtesy of the Farmers Union Insurance Agency.

 County camp dates and registration forms can be found online at; click on the Calendar tab. You can also pick up registration forms at your local Farmers Union Insurance office or your local cooperative.

 For more information, contact Farmers Union State Education Director, Bonnie Geyer, at 605-352-6761 ext. 125 or email her at

 2015 District 3-day Camp Registration Deadlines: District 1 & 2 is May 15, 2015; District 3 & 7 is July 20, 2015; District 4, 5 & 6 is July 24, 2015.

 All children ages 6-13 are invited to attend South Dakota Farmers Union's District Summer Camps. This year's theme celebrates Farmers Union's centennial year, Growing Stronger with Cooperation, Celebrating 100 Years.

 Through hands-on crafts and interactive games, youth will learn about how cooperatives work, develop team work and leadership skills, and also learn about South Dakota's agriculture industry. During the three-day camp, campers will participate in interactive games, singing, crafts, canoeing, camp fires and many other camp traditions.

 Each child will also receive a free T-shirt courtesy of the Farmers Union Insurance Agency.

Registration forms can be found online at; click on the Calendar tab. You can also pick up registration forms at your local Farmers Union Insurance office or your local cooperative.

 For more information, contact Farmers Union State Education Director, Bonnie Geyer, at 605-352-6761 ext. 125 or email her at

 State Leadership Camp Registration Deadline is May 15, 2015: State Leadership Camp, June 7-12, 2015, provides the opportunity for Senior Youth (those who have completed the seventh grade through the summer following senior year in high school) to attend the week-long State Leadership Camp at Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City.

 During this camp, youth organize and operate five cooperative businesses. They learn about Farmers Union, cooperative businesses, participate in leadership workshops, listen to guest speakers and participate in talent night activities.

 A tour of the Black Hills, hiking, volleyball, basketball and fun cooperative games complete the camp experience and leave campers with lasting memories and many new friends.

 Everyone is welcome and invited to participate.

 Registration forms can be found online at; click on the Calendar tab. You can also pick up registration forms at your local Farmers Union Insurance office or your local cooperative.

 For more information, contact Farmers Union State Education Director, Bonnie Geyer, at 605-352-6761 ext. 125 or email her at

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Last Modified: 05/20/2015 7:30:22 am MDT

Golf Tournament Funds Leadership Education for Agriculture's Next Generation

May 19, 2015

Fun and raising funds for the next generation of agricultural leaders is the focus of the 2015 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament which will be held June 16 at the Lakeview Country Club in Mitchell (3300 N Ohlman St). The tournament will be a four-person, best ball format. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (CDT); tee off is at 9 a.m.

 "Investing in rural youth is investing in the future of South Dakota's number one industry," said Jim Wahle, SDFU board member and the event's organizer.

 Wahle farms near Salem and serves as District 2 Farmers Union President. He hopes to raise $10,000 for Farmers Union leadership educational programming which includes several leadership-focused activities designed specifically to provide South Dakota's rural youth, ages 6 through 18, with leadership and life skills, as well as insight into South Dakota's number one industry of agriculture.

  More than 3,000 youth participate in Farmers Union educational programming each year. Youth like Keely Thompson, who grew up on a ranch near New Underwood.  

 If you were to meet 19-year-old Thompson today, you wouldn't guess that the South Dakota State University Animal Science major, who is on the Dean's List and is a member of the university's honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta, was once a shy girl who was content to sit on the sidelines.

 When asked what brought her out of her shell, Thompson doesn't hesitate. "Farmers Union youth programs; they helped me break out of my shell, gave me social skills and gave me the confidence to speak in front of people," Thompson says. "I've enjoyed all the opportunities it's provided to me and now that I'm a camp counselor, I'm able to mentor younger kids."

 Golf for rural youth

Thompson and rural youth like her are the reason Wahle volunteers to organize the event.

"Along with leadership development, Farmers Union education programs also teach rural youth about the cooperatives which play an integral role in many rural communities," Wahle says. "Those of us who live in rural South Dakota depend heavily upon cooperatives and it's important our youth understand how they work. I bank at a cooperative, I get my phone and internet service from a cooperative, I purchase most of my farm inputs from a cooperative, I buy my fuel from a cooperative and I sell most of my grain to a cooperative."

 Wahle is currently looking for team and hole sponsors. To learn more, contact the state Farmers Union office at 605-352-6761 ext. 114 or

For tournament sponsorship info click here 

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Last Modified: 05/19/2015 2:51:31 pm MDT

Letter to the Editor: Keeping COOL Under Pressure

May 19, 2015

Summer meals for many begin on the grill. What if I told you the sanctity of throwing a burger or steak on the grill is under attack? And, this attack is specifically directed at your rights as a consumer?

 Currently, members of Congress are attempting to undermine an integral piece of American legislation, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

 This legislation requires food sellers to label their products based on where the product was born, raised and processed. The attempts by members of Congress are made in conjunction with allegations from Canada and Mexico in a current case at the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

 These opponents are using unwarranted claims and, in some cases, scare tactics to erode consumer rights and food safety in the U.S.

 Representative K. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture in the House of Representatives, is using his position on the committee as a pulpit to spread unwarranted claims and attack consumer rights. For example, Rep. Conaway argued that COOL is not about food safety, but rather about consumer information. Yet, Rep. Conaway ignores the fact that consumers can use the information gained from country of origin labeling to protect themselves from beef imported from countries dealing with outbreaks of animal diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or otherwise known as mad cow disease).  These kinds of half-truth attacks are both an oversimplification and misrepresentation of COOL.

  What Rep. Conaway again neglects is the fact that COOL is an issue of consumer rights as well as a food safety concern.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) operates on a $4.3 billion budget addressing those very concerns. If cost suddenly trumps safety than we might as well save the American taxpayers $4.3 billion by eliminating the FDA!

 Yet, in the Declaration of Independence it is stated, in reference to government, "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

 These issues are simply invaluable and certainly shouldn't be leveraged against their cost.

Even more concerning is the fact that COOL opponents are attempting to use the support of a coalition of businesses - both domestic and international - to address a consumer rights issue.

 Last I read, the U.S. Constitution did not say "We the businesses," the Gettysburg Address did not say "a government of the businesses, by the businesses, and for the businesses," rather, these fundamental documents refer to the will of the PEOPLE of this great nation; and the people of this great nation have shown overwhelming support for COOL over the last decade.

 A May 2013 survey by the Consumer Federation of America found 90 percent of consumers agree that food sellers should be required to indicate on the label the country of origin of fresh meat they sell.  

 Our delegations would be wise to remember that they are elected to serve the will of the PEOPLE, not of the BUSINESS sector.

 In a further effort to defeat COOL, opponents have resorted to using the scare tactic of a WTO authorized retaliation by Canada and Mexico. However, in order for such a retaliation to take place, the parties would need to prove a significant economic impact due to COOL. Such proof, according to Dr. Robert Taylor of Auburn University, does not exist.

In a 2015 recent study available to the public, Dr. Taylor concluded that COOL had no significant impact on the export markets of Canadian beef. Without a smoking gun, our trade partners would have no warrant for retaliation.  Yet, COOL opponents in Congress are using this scare tactic in an effort to preempt the WTO process.

 Members of Congress have already prepared legislation for the repeal of COOL. This would be an unprecedented move, intervening in the WTO process before its completion. Such a repeal would be a significant blow to American sovereignty.

 Currently, we have labeling laws that require origin labeling on products like fruits, vegetables and even the shirts on our back. Shouldn't our beef and other meat products meet a similar if not higher standard?

 Ultimately you must ask yourself, "Do I as a consumer have the right to know where my food comes from?"

 If you believe you do, I urge you to contact your Congressional delegation and tell them to keep COOL.

 If you want to keep COOL a federal law, contact your Congressional representatives by calling the switchboard to the Capitol at (202) 224-3121 and encourage them to leave COOL in our federal law. To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit


Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President

Fourth generation crop and cattle farmer, Conde, S.D

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Last Modified: 05/19/2015 9:02:30 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Supports COOL Locally & in D.C.

May 12, 2015

South Dakota Farmers Union hosted a COOL rally May 8, 2015, in Watertown during President Obama’s visit to remind the Administration to maintain Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) as a federal law.

“We are working to keep COOL on people’s minds so they will remind Congressional leadership of the important role it plays in food safety,” said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union. “COOL is a law that is important to everyone who wants to know where their food comes from.”

Along with the recent rally, Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle producer, will join National Farmers Union in D.C. the week of May 18 for a COOL Fly-In. He will be accompanied by Farmers Union members, Dick and Janet Kolousek, who raise cattle near Wessington Springs with their son, Scott, and his family.

“Farmers Union is a grassroots organization. Members from across the U.S. are going to attend this Fly-In so we can meet one-on-one with members of Congress and their staff about the value of keeping COOL a federal law,” Sombke explained.

If you want to keep COOL a federal law, contact your Congressional representatives by calling the switchboard to the Capitol at (202) 224-3121 and encourage them to leave COOL in our federal law. To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit

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Last Modified: 05/12/2015 11:13:38 am MDT