Posts for March 2017

S.D. Farmers Union President Urges Trump to Reinstate COOL for Public Health Reasons

March 23, 2017

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke joins National Farmers Union in urging President Trump to reinstate Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) of beef and other meat products for public health reasons.

 "Without COOL, consumers don't know where their meat is raised or processed. The recent Brazilian meat scandal just affirms the fact that we need to label meat for public health reasons," said Sombke, of the scandal where a chemical was added to meat processed in Brazil to mask the fact the meat was rancid. "The World Trade Organization should not determine which foods and labeled and which are not. Not labeling meat is a public health concern."

This week the Trump Administration released a list of 24 trade practices, including COOL, that trade negotiators should prioritize in future negotiations. 

 In 2015, COOL was repealed by Congress after a lengthy World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada and Mexico and pressure from multinational meatpackers. Faced with either making the law compliant by switching it to a voluntary system, paying more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs, or repealing the law, Congress chose to repeal the law. And when doing so, they even removed COOL labels from meats like ground beef and ground pork that were never at issue with the WTO.

 A grassroots organization, National Farmers Union is following policy put in place by states organizations, like S.D. Farmers Union and is urging the administration to keep COOL on the list. And, to ensure a reinstatement of COOL would be allowable under any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  "For 30 years, NFU has championed Country-of-Origin Labeling, and we strongly believe the issue is important to American producers and consumers alike," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "American producers raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from. President Trump should stick up for American consumers and producers by ensuring COOL is a priority for his administration's trade negotiations."

 Supporting South Dakota's Beef Industry

Sombke said that along with maintaining a safe food supply, the reinstatement of COOL will support South Dakota's beef industry. An industry which accounts for $3.12 billion dollars in the state, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 census data.

 "South Dakota producers invest heavily in raising a safe, quality beef supply. If the meat they raised is labeled, it prevents our cattle producers from taking a hit when meat from foreign countries is deemed unsafe," Sombke said.

 Sombke urges South Dakotans to reach out to the state's representatives in D.C. and encourage them to urge Trump to reinstate COOL. To learn more about Farmers Union efforts to reinstate COOL, visit their website,

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Last Modified: 03/23/2017 7:15:57 am MDT

National Farmers Union Supports Use of E30 in All Fuel Injected Vehicles

March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017
National Farmers Union Supports Use of E30 in All Fuel Injected Vehicles
HURON, S.D. - National Farmers Union called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to open the market to higher blends of ethanol in a landmark resolution passed during the National Farmers Union annual meeting held in San Diego March 5-8, 2017.

"National Farmers Union, as an organization, considers increased ethanol use one of the most important demand drivers for American agriculture," said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union. "Members are taking a stand against EPA regulations that limit the use of ethanol blends in non-flex vehicles."

South Dakota Farmers Union is one of 33 state affiliates which make up the grassroots National Farmers Union organization.

"Ethanol is a critically important part of our future and higher ethanol blends are key to creating demand for ethanol and corn," Sombke said. "EPA and all government regulators should immediately reverse statements and policies that unfairly limit the amount of ethanol we can put in our cars."

The resolution brought forward by the South Dakota Farmers Union delegation to the convention promotes the use of higher blended fuels, like Premium E30. "We see this as a continued effort to continue efforts to expand retail fuels infrastructure and to further support the Renewable Fuel Standard," Sombke explained.

In conjunction with these efforts, National Farmers Union has recently filed legal comments challenging EPA's invalid, arbitrary and capricious overreach with its interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which limits ethanol volumes to 10 or at most 15 percent.

In addition to actively supporting this policy during the National Farmers Union convention, South Dakota Farmers Union worked diligently during the 2017 Legislative Session to support the passage of a resolution which supports the use of Premium E30 in state-owned vehicles.

Since the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, the Governor's Office has already begun to solicit bids for the supply of Premium E30.

"South Dakota Farmers Union has long been a leader in the development of ethanol," Sombke said. "Our state has produced many national leaders who have supported the ethanol industry over the years, including former U.S. Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle."

In a speech he gave to attendees of the Siouxland Ethanol Annual meeting, Daschle said public policy initiatives for ethanol helped create an industry that reduced U.S. oil imports by $20 billion in 2016 and contributed nearly $50 billion to the nation's economy.

"What I want to get across is how dynamic the ethanol industry is and how we need to build on our success of the past," Daschle said. "We passed the Clean Air Act Amendments and that gave us a threshold. We passed the Renewable Fuel Standard and that gave us an opportunity, catalytically, to see the explosion of the industry."

The National Farmers Union resolution comes at a time when there is increased interest nationally in the benefits of higher ethanol volumes such as a 30 percent volume blend (Premium E30).

Data shows Premium E30 Works in Non-Flex Fuel Vehicles
Premium E30 is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy as a potentially optimum blend level.

Data collected during a recent Glacial Lakes Energy's E30 Challenge, Watertown, South Dakota showed that non-flex fuel vehicles run better on E30 than flex fuel vehicles.

"This high octane, cleaner burning fuel is available at a lower cost and provides consumer choice while supporting local communities," said Brad Brunner, Ethanol Marketing Manager Glacial Lakes Energy.

"We also see this as a way to achieve reduced governmental regulation," Sombke added. "These actions by our state and national organization, highlight continued efforts to seek greater market access for higher blended fuels. It is the position of both organizations that rural economies and consumers across the nation have much to gain in such actions."

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Last Modified: 03/15/2017 2:06:07 pm MDT

Deadline for $1,000 Farmers Union Insurance Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship is April 15, 2017

March 1, 2017

Each year, South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, gives $1,000 scholarships to 25 South Dakota high school students. The deadline for scholarship applications is April 15, 2017. 

Scholarships can be used to put toward students' post-secondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school. Recipients are selected based on a combination of academic record, activities and awards, financial need and an essay relating to how they will "Insure a Brighter Tomorrow" in South Dakota.

Since 2006, Farmers Union Insurance agents throughout the state have funded this scholarship program which is administered by the Farmers Union Foundation. Over the last 11 years, more than $250,000 in scholarship dollars have been awarded.

"Our insurance agents are committed to building a brighter future in South Dakota," said Jason Wells, Regional Manager of Farmers Union Insurance Agency.  

To apply for the Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarship, click here

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Last Modified: 03/01/2017 9:48:46 am MST

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