2019 National Farmers Union Convention: Grassroots Policy in Action
Editorial Note: If you'd like to interview South Dakota Farmers Union members from your readership or coverage area during National Farmers Union Convention March 3-5, reach out to Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director, S.D. Farmers Union e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your best call back number.
Grassroots policy development is the reason several South Dakota Farmers Union members will attend the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention held in Bellevue, Wash., March 3-5, 2019.
"Bringing our policy to the national convention gets results, because the policies passed during this convention are what the national lobbyists use as guidance when they lobby congressional leaders," explains Union Center rancher Steve Harwood.
Harwood is one of six delegates elected during SDFU state convention, to represent SDFU policy during NFU Convention. The other delegates include: Becky Martinmaas, Orient; Cheryl Schaefers, Polo; Tammy Basel, Union Center; David Reis, Reliance; and Lorrie Hanson, Britton.
Similar to state policy, but on a much larger scale, these delegates will work to make SDFU policy part of the NFU policy book.
"Year-after-year, our delegates do a good job standing up for the common core of South Dakota agriculture and advocating on behalf of SDFU policy," explains Doug Sombke, SDFU President. "Many of us take for granted that the way we farm or ranch here in South Dakota is the same across the nation. And, what is important to us is important to all farmers. This is not always the case. And, this is the reason we make sure our state has solid representation."
Learning about agriculture in other regions of the U.S. makes national convention interesting, says delegate and Reliance rancher David Reis.
"At national convention you see how diversified agriculture is across the entire nation," explains Reis, who has served as a delegate before. "The Farmers Union lobbyists have quite a job, representing all this diversity."
Truth in labeling and E30 are among the hot-button issues SDFU members will advocate for during policy.
"Fake meat or petri-dish protein was a big issue during our state convention, and the way it sounds, it will be among the main issues discussed at national convention," Harwood says. "It is an issue that could have devastating impacts on our livestock prices. And, if we don't get truth in labeling, it could result in misleading our consumers."
Sombke adds that as in years past, SDFU delegates will advocate for Congress to support higher ethanol blends, like E30.
"We'll be discussing all the issues that impact our members and they voted on during state convention," he says.
In addition to policy development, during the 117th Anniversary Convention, SDFU members will have an opportunity to hear from industry professionals and notable speakers.
As the national website boasts, "The convention provides NFU members and attendees the opportunity to learn, collaborate and grow through thoughtful discussions, breakout sessions and farm tours."
NFU delegate, member Cheryl Schaefers, Polo, S.D., is one of one of six delegates elected during SDFU state convention, to represent SDFU policy at the organization's national convention. The other delegates include: Becky Martinmaas, Orient; Steve Harwood, Union Center; Tammy Basel, Union Center; David Reis, Reliance; and Lorrie Hanson, Britton.