Times Are Tough on the Farm & Politics Aren't Helping

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HURON, S.D. - Times are tough on South Dakota's family farms and ranches and politics aren't helping, says S.D. Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke.

 "As a farmer, I've been told to get my prices from the market, yet this administration is creating an atmosphere that reduces demand, pushing down prices for my commodities and launching a trade war with one of our largest soybean importers that will further hurt prices. All the while, the protections we do have in the current Farm Bill are being threatened," Sombke says.

 Sombke's comments are a response to the Environmental Protection Agency April 3 decision to exempt one of the nation's largest oil refining companies from complying with the Renewable Fuels Standard regulation, which will have a negative impact on the state's corn producers; the current trade war with China and, a threat made on federally secured crop insurance.

 As president of one of the state's largest agriculture organizations, Sombke visits daily with family farmers and ranchers who make up the state's number one industry of agriculture - and the conversations are discouraging.

 "The farm economy is bad, really bad right now. Farmers are going backwards fast. We need this administration to stop developing policies and strategies that create economic pain for our family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities," says Sombke, who understands what is happening to farmers because He is also a fourth-generation crop and livestock producer whose grown sons now manage the day-to-day activities of the family's Conde farm.

How hardship wavers create devastating ripple effect

The EPA's decision to grant hardship waivers to three Andeavor refineries, despite the corporation's net profits of nearly $1.5 billion last year, took away the requirement that a percentage of all oil is blended with corn-based ethanol.

 Sombke explains that this decision does nothing to help already low commodity prices and contradicts the Trump Administration's previous support for renewable fuels. Ethanol is an industry, South Dakota corn producers depend upon to market their harvested corn each year.

 "This President was elected with overwhelming support from rural Americans and family farmers and ranchers, has undermined them with his current waiver," Sombke said. "However, when we need this administration the most, we are getting broken promises."

 The hardship waiver will be granted to refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels a day who can demonstrate a "disproportionate economic hardship" from RFS compliance costs.

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