S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates Three Generations of Farm Moms This Mother's Day

April 27, 2016

As we reflect on the women who raised us this Mother's Day, S.D. Farmers Union would like to celebrate the many women who support the state's number one industry - Farm and Ranch Moms!

 Read on to learn the story of three mothers.

 Each of these Farmers Union members represent a different generation of women born and raised on South Dakota farms and ranches, who married a farmer or rancher.

 These women share their story and reflect on raising children on their South Dakota farm or ranch.

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Last Modified: 04/27/2016 8:06:24 am MDT

S.D. Farmers Union President Doug Sombke Agreed to Exclusive TV Interview with KELO TV

April 22, 2016

Today, during the 6 o'clock news, Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President was interviewed by KELO TV following the 7 to 46 vote by Dist. 7 members which shut down a resolution asking for his resignation.

 Sombke stands by the election results decided by the members during the Centennial Convention held Dec. 9-10, 2015 in Huron.

 "I am proud of the work that I've done with Farmers Union. I am proud of where we have come since I have been the president of this organization and we will continue to do better," said Sombke, a fourth generation Conde farmer.

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Last Modified: 04/22/2016 10:01:12 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance Welcomes New Regional Manager

April 15, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance welcomes Jason Wells to serve as the new Regional Manager.

 "Jason brings extensive leadership and career experience to this role," said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "We are confident he will administer exceptional guidance and support to our team of South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance agents who help provide risk protection to many families throughout South Dakota.

 Growing up in rural North Dakota, Wells began his career with Farmers Union Insurance of North Dakota right out of college. "My entire career has been 100 percent Farmers Union Insurance. Over the years, I have worked in every aspect of insurance," said Wells, who started out in operations and eventually became vice president of underwriting and marketing for Farmers Union Insurance of Montana.

 Wells is excited for the opportunity to lead South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance and cannot wait to get started.  He is also happy to bring his wife, Becci, and son, Carter, back to the Midwest and closer to family.

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Last Modified: 04/15/2016 7:25:15 am MDT

Farmers Union Quiz Bowl Encourages Youth to Think about Farm & Ranch Safety

April 13, 2016

Four FFA Chapters placed in the Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl held in conjunction with the 2016 South Dakota State FFA Convention in Brookings and will be advancing to the state competition held during the 2016 South Dakota State Fair.

The qualifying teams are, in order of highest score: the Viborg/Hurley FFA Chapter, team members include; Logan Slack, Alison Knutson, Abby Hora and Annie Wirth: the McCook Central FFA Chapter, team members include; Melissa Lauck, Leslie Kolbeck, Kohl Miller, and Jordan Scheier: Sunshine Bible FFA Chapter, team members include; Christopher Hass, Evan Lopez, Shelby Belmore and Titus Deal: and the Lyman FFA Chapter, team members include Korder Cropsey, Conrad MohrEymer, Eli Fanning and Grant Stewart.

 Designed as a fun way to inform teens about farm safety, South Dakota Farmers Union hosts the Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl each year during the FFA Convention.

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Last Modified: 04/13/2016 7:38:38 am MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Board of Directors Dispels Myths With Letter

April 6, 2016

HURON, S.D. - For more than a century, South Dakota Farmers Union has supported the state's family farmers and ranchers. The organization's board of directors continues to support it's more than 17,000 members in standing by the election results tallied during the Dec. 2015 Annual Convention and validated by an outside lawyer.

 "The board has considered these resolutions and they are committed to the greater membership of South Dakota Farmers Union," said Joel Keierleber, Dist 4 Board member, in response to a request made by 25-30 members of it's Dist. 1 and Dist. 2 to hold a second convention.

 In response to allegations of mistreating staff, SDFU cannot discuss personnel issues.

 "However, the board of directors can tell you that no current or former employee has ever made a claim to the board that they were mistreated," said Kecia Beranek, Communication Specialist for SDFU. "The board is always willing to hear from every single employee."

Below is the letter, signed by the board of directors, and released to membership April 1, 2016 to let members statewide know there will not be a second convention and the election results stand.

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Last Modified: 04/06/2016 3:06:52 pm MDT

S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Wonnenberg Family Ranch

April 4, 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.

This month, we're highlighting the Wonnenberg family who ranch near Dallas.

 As its mother protectively stands guard, her newborn calf, supported precariously by its wobbly legs, looks curiously at its surroundings and then begins nursing. For four generations, this heart-warming scene has signaled spring on the Wonnenberg Ranch near Dallas.

 And, even though it's been a part of his life for as long as he can remember, Steve, 61, still enjoys calving season.

 "From the time I was really small I enjoyed working with cattle and doing chores," explains Steve, who raises a registered Black Angus herd, which his dad, William, began in the 60s.

 "For their FFA project, my older brothers decided to get into raising registered Black Angus," Steve explains. "My dad liked them so much that he kept expanding the herd after my brothers left the ranch."

 Like his father before him, the third-generation rancher still does business with a handshake. "Our family still has the old mentality where a shake of the hand still means a lot," explains Steve and Joan's daughter, Casey Wonnenberg King. "When my dad sells registered Angus bulls, he always tells buyers that if something doesn't work out, he will make it right - and he always holds true to his promise."

To read the rest of their story, click here.

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Last Modified: 04/04/2016 2:35:15 pm MDT

Meet South Dakota Farm & Ranch Families During National Ag Week

March 15, 2016

During National Ag Week, South Dakota Farmers Union and its 17,000-plus members want to introduce South Dakotans to a few of the many farm and ranch families who make up the state's number one industry by inviting the public to read their stories which can be found on the organization's website,

 Since 2014, the organization has highlighted a different farm or ranch family each month - capturing their stories and photographing the family's agriculture operations.

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Last Modified: 03/15/2016 2:41:40 pm MDT

USDA Secretary Discusses Diversification, Conservation and Trade at NFU Convention

March 9, 2016

South Dakota Farmers Union members were in attendance as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, spoke at the National Farmers Union Convention held March 5-8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minn.

 "What an amazing opportunity for those of us who work in production agriculture and live in rural communities throughout South Dakota that are supported by agriculture to hear firsthand Vilsack's message," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

 Vilsack, who is also a Farmers Union member, celebrated U.S. agriculture's uniqueness and called on Congress to act on food labeling, and advocated for increased trade with Cuba.

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Last Modified: 03/09/2016 8:22:58 am MST

National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives Introduces Students to Purpose & Diversity of Co-ops

March 3, 2016

When Lake Area Technical Institute Agriculture Business student, Alexa Olson, thinks about cooperatives, she immediately pictures the grain elevator in her hometown.

 Until recently.

 Today, the image in her mind is much more diverse. Olson just returned from the National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives held Feb.19-21, 2016, in Minneapolis.

 "During the conference we visited a grocery store that was a cooperative. I was impressed by the fact that cooperatives are much more than grain and agriculture focused," she said.

 Her classmate, Jeffrey York, agrees.

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Last Modified: 03/03/2016 8:33:28 am MST

S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Wienk Charolais Farm Family

February 29, 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. This month, we’re highlighting the Wienk and Eschenbaum farm family who operate Wienk Charolais near Lake Preston.

Thumbing through a recent Wienk Charolais sale catalogue, Arnold Wienk, 78, recalls what it was like in the early years, “When I first sold bulls, the only number we gave buyers was the birthdate.” The glossy flyer is filled with photos of breeding stock and several columns of numbers representing EPD data - genetic information which today’s cattle producers count on to make breeding decisions. EPD data is standard issue with the sale of all purebred cattle thanks to the efforts of breeders like Arnold and Carol Wienk who, a generation ago, understood the value of genetic data.

 The Wienks are among the breed association pioneers who encouraged purebred breeders across the country to collect and catalogue genetic data because they understood the role it would play in improving commercial cattle herd genetics - and ultimately enable the cattle industry to quickly respond to consumer demands.

 “We do what we can to promote the industry and the product,” says Arnold, a third generation Kingsbury County farmer. “This herd has more records on file with the association than any herd in the U.S. - or is one of the herds with the most records - because we were keeping records with the S.D. Beef Improvement Association before the Charolais Association kept members’ performance records.” The Wienks transferred their performance records to the Charolais Association once the association began processing and maintaining members’ performance records.

 To read the rest of their story, click here.

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Last Modified: 02/29/2016 7:39:46 am MST