Farmers Paychecks Cut

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By Doug Sombke, SDFU President & fourth generation farmer September 6 the USDA released a report indicating farm income is expected to decrease another $9.8 billion, or 13 percent, in 2018. OK, this does not come as a surprise. Commodity markets remain low. We're in the midst of a Trade War - undermining years of relationship building and creating a slippery slope for export markets American farmers have come to depend upon each harvest. And, based on my own data, many South Dakota farmers will not contribute to their household income this harvest. In fact, my good friend, and SDFU Vice President, Wayne Soren says after all expenses are paid, he will lose $2.50 per bushel of soybeans this harvest. In other words, he would have been better off perfecting his golf swing and planting his soybean fields to a cover crops for his cattle to graze, instead of supplying food processors and cattle feeders with the necessary protein source the market depends upon from soybeans. Tough times in agriculture are nothing new to farmers my age. We got our start in the 80s. Like today, there were years the crops didn't yield ... or provide a paycheck. Let me tell you, if it hadn't been for my wife, Mel's work off the farm, I don't know how we would have kept our own pantry stocked. Today, to sustain our family's more than a century-old farm, my sons, Brett, Bryan and Bryce, have built secondary businesses on the farm and their spouses all maintain off-farm jobs. My family is not unique. Many South Dakota farm and ranch families work two or three off-farm jobs in addition to raising crops and livestock. Just think of the impact it would have on rural communities and their youth if these farm and ranch families could focus on one full time job and not worry about the challenges of finding and funding childcare? It's a challenging time and the impact of markets and the current Trade War on South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers will be the focus of conversations this week in D.C. Members of more than 30 South Dakota farm and ranch families are traveling to DC to share their stories with Congressional leaders during the National Farmers Union Fly-In.

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