HURON, S.D. - South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, used the words, "a crushing defeat" to describe the South Dakota Senate's failure to override Governor Noem's veto of House Bill 1191, which would have legalized industrial hemp.
As one of the state's largest family farm and ranch organizations, South Dakota Farmers Union lobbied in favor of House Bill 1191 because of the much-needed market opportunities industrial hemp would provide to producers on both sides of the river.
"The failure of the South Dakota Senate to override the Governor's veto on House Bill 1191, is a crushing defeat for farmers and ranchers across South Dakota," said Sombke, also a fourth-generation Conde farmer. "It doesn't make sense.
Why would Governor Noem veto a bill legalizing industrial hemp, when as a representative, she voted for it in the 2018 farm bill?
When agriculture is our state's number one economic driver, this veto shows a lack of forward thinking.
Companies were ready to purchase South Dakota's hemp crop. This new crop would have provided new jobs and opportunities for South Dakotans during a time when many commodity markets are down, and family farmers and ranchers are looking for new opportunities.
It's a sad day when South Dakota's Governor's does not understand the differences between hemp as a viable crop and marijuana an illegal plant.
As one of the state's largest farm organizations, South Dakota Farmers Union will work to educate the legislature and the governor on these differences in hopes that an industrial hemp legislation will pass in 2020."
South Dakota Farmers Union applauds the South Dakota State Legislature for passing House Bill 1191 today, March 11, 2019, and urges Governor Kristi Noem to sign the bill which legalizes raising industrial hemp.
House Bill 1191 passed with a vote of 58 to eight with four excused. Currently waiting for the Governor's signature to become law, the bill supports the 2018 farm bill which legalized raising industrial hemp at the federal level.
"Passing House Bill 1191 is forward thinking. If the Governor would sign this bill, it will open the door to processors and allow our family farmers and ranchers to remain competitive with surrounding states which have passed similar bills," said Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle farmer.
Industrial hemp is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant, well suited to growing conditions on both sides of the river. Agriculture states surrounding South Dakota have already legalized raising industrial hemp, opening the doors for farmers and ranchers to explore production and marketing opportunities.
House Bill 1191 incorporates nearly all amendments suggested by Governor Noem.
"Montana farmers and ranchers are expected to plant 75,000 acres in 2019. It's the law in North Dakota and Wyoming's governor signed it into law last week. As an organization committed to supporting South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers, we urge Noem to sign the legislation which will put South Dakota on par with every surrounding state - maintaining a level playing field for our producers," Sombke said.
South Dakota Farmers Union thanks the South Dakota State Legislature for passing Senate Bill 68 today, March 4, 2019. A win for South Dakota's livestock industry and consumers, the bill prohibits labeling cell-cultured protein as meat in South Dakota.
"Senate Bill 68 sends the message that our state's leaders care about protecting our livestock industry as well as South Dakotans' right to know where their food comes from," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and a fourth-generation cattle producer.
Truth in labeling is a policy focus for South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU). In October 2018, the organization sent livestock producers to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in opposition to labeling cell-cultured protein as meat. SDFU is among the state's largest family farmer and rancher organization.
At the same time, SDFU launched an effort to educate their members and the general public on the potential dangers labeling cell-cultured protein as meat would have on consumers' right to know what they are eating as well as the devastating impact it would have on the state's livestock industry.
Senate Bill 68 sponsor, District 17 Sen. Art Rusch, credits SDFU's efforts with motivating him to sponsor the bill. He first learned about the issue by reading Farmers Union and the South Dakota Stockgrowers newsletters.
"I'm not a cattleman. I don't raise livestock. But, I think it is important that South Dakota take a position to protect our livestock industry," explained Rusch, a retired circuit judge and writer who represents Clay and Turner counties.
Agriculture is South Dakota's No. 1 industry. In 2017, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated livestock value of production in South Dakota at more than $2.8 billion (value of production is primarily derived from a market year average price multiplied by weight of animals marketed).
Senate Bill 68 passed unanimously. The bill reserves the term, "meat," to be used only for protein harvested from animal carcasses, by amending the adulterated and misbranded food chapter of the South Dakota Codified Law code section 39 - 4 to further define the term "meat." Read the complete amendment here: https://sdlegislature.gov/docs/legsession/2019/Bills/SB68SAG.pdf.
National Farmers Union recognized Amherst farmer, Paul Symens with the organizations highest honor during the 117th National Convention held in Bellevue, Washington March 3-5, 2019.
The award for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union and American agriculture is designed to recognize individuals and families who have made a major contribution to the betterment of family farm agriculture through their involvement in the National Farmers Union.
"Throughout his adult life, Paul Symens has served South Dakota's family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. He made time for service, while at the same time, he was busy working with his family on their farm," explained Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.
Not one to wait for others to do what needs to be done, Symens began serving South Dakota's agriculture community as a young farmer when his neighbor, who also happened to be the Marshall County Farmers Union President, was ready to step down from office. He asked Paul to run.
"I agreed with what Farmers Union stood for and how they backed cooperatives and were involved in policy and rural communities," Symens said.