Posts for March 2015

South Dakota Farmers Union President Granted Audience with Pope Francis & Vatican Leaders to Discuss Importance of Family Farming and Ranching

March 26, 2015

HURON, S.D. - South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke was among five Farmers Union state presidents who were granted an audience with Pope Francis, March 25, 2015.

Sombke met with the Pope following a weeklong series of meetings with Vatican officials and rural-based non-governmental organizations to discuss the important role family farmers play in food security as well as the fact that most food produced in the U.S. is produced by family farmers.

 "This was an incredible opportunity for South Dakota Farmers Union and our brother organizations across the United States to work with the Vatican and network with others in Europe for the future of family farming," said Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde crop and livestock farmer. "It also affords us the opportunity to let the world know what farming in the United States is truly like."

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Last Modified: 07/07/2015 1:10:26 pm MDT

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates Christensen Farm Family

March 16, 2015

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates Christensen Farm Family 

Ask Marlow Christensen and his three sons, Dale, Don and Doug, why they chose farming as a career and their responses are similar.

"It's all we've ever known," explains Dale, who, like his younger brothers, joined the family operation full-time right out of high school.

His brother, Don, adds, "I didn't think about doing anything else. I enjoy working with the cattle, basically every bit of the work involved - even things like scraping the yards in the mornings."

Celebrating 51 years of marriage this year, Marlow and his wife, Donna, got their start in farming a year after they married. They rented the farm southwest of Beresford from Marlow's mom, Lucille (Jensen) Christensen, in 1965. Lucille's grandpa homesteaded the land in 1887.

Since the beginning, the work of running the feedyard and raising crops has been a family affair. "When the boys were too little to walk, I would put them in their little red wagon and they would sit there and watch us work in the barns," Donna recalls.

Even today, the family is not incorporated. They all share a percentage of the expenses and profits brought in by the 2,000-head feedyard and crops they market.

All in the Family: Two Generations Operate Family Farm Together near Beresford

Looking out over his family's feedyards, Marlow Christensen remembers the days when he was one of many farmer feeders.

Today, the landscape has changed. Marlow and his wife, Donna, and their sons, Dale, Don and Doug, are one of few farm families in the area to operate a feedyard.

Although they have fed out cattle since Marlow and Donna rented the farm in 1965, the feedyard became the focus of their farming operation in 2000 when they got out of the hog business and expanded from a 1,200-head feedyard to a 2,000-head feedyard.

Marlow is careful to distinguish the difference between a farmer feeder and a feedlot. "This is not a feedlot. We do not custom feed any cattle. We own all the cattle in this feedyard," Marlow explains.

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Last Modified: 07/07/2015 12:51:58 pm MDT

South Dakota College Students Learn about Cooperatives During the National Farmers Union Conference on Cooperatives a Success

March 13, 2015

South Dakota College Students Learn about Cooperatives During the National Farmers Union Conference on Cooperatives a Success

Thirty students from Lake Area Technical Institute joined more than 150 college students from 25 states and Puerto Rico to participate in the 2015 National Farmers Union (NFU) College Conference on Cooperatives held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Feb. 19-22, 2015.

"This is an opportunity for the cooperative community to teach young people about cooperative business principles and to show them that there are great careers in these dynamic, ethical and community-minded businesses," said NFU President, Roger Johnson.

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) students attended as guests of South Dakota Farmers Union. During the event they learned how cooperative businesses are adapting to changing environments and heard from cooperative experts from across the nation on why member-owned businesses are thriving in industries ranging from senior housing to healthcare.

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Last Modified: 07/07/2015 12:49:23 pm MDT

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