Farm safety is not a topic to take lightly, explains high school junior, Peter Rausch.
"I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend to a farm accident," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."
Rausch, a member of the Hoven FFA Chapter, was among more than 80 FFA members who participated in the S.D. Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl during the 2018 S.D. State FFA Convention held in Brookings, April 14-16.
Hoven FFA Chapter quiz bowl team is one of four that qualified to compete in the championship quiz bowl which will be held at the 2018 South Dakota State Fair during Farmers Union Day.
The other teams who qualified include the following FFA chapters: Parker FFA, Tri-Valley FFA and Wessington Springs.
HURON, S.D. - During the Sturgis Rally, Jeff Kreun, the owner of Kreun Kustom, an upholstery shop that specializes in customized motorcycle seats and auto interiors, can be seen visiting with thousands of bike enthusiasts and taking orders. But to Kreun, custom upholstery is more than an income, he also uses his talents to engage teens.
For several years now, Kreun has been involved in bike build projects designed to spark teens' interest in mechanics. He also helps engineering students from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with contests.
When asked why a small business owner makes time to help youth learn the skill of sewing he says, "I guess I see the world around us and most kids have a screen in front of them. I am appalled by this. It's exciting to see kids passionate about something tangible. When I see a kid light up when he creates something with his hands, it reminds me of myself when I was young."
During the 2017 S.D. State Fair, S.D. Farmers Union (SDFU) recognized Kreun with the Dakota Rural Pride Award. Today, SDFU asks South Dakotans to nominate folks like Kreun, who give back to their communities, for the 2018 Rural Dakota Pride Award. Nominees do not need to be members of SDFU.
Each year, SDFU recognizes five individuals who give back to their rural communities with the Rural Dakota Pride Award.
"Rural communities depend on these everyday heroes. They are the people who do what needs to be done," says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of South Dakota SDFU.
As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Hofhenke explains that SDFU understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota's number one industry and their rural communities.
"One survives with the other," she says. "Without thriving communities, it's difficult to encourage young people to return to their family's farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota's agriculture industry; which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive."
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.
HURON, S.D. - Traditionally, when cooperatives come to mind most people think agriculture. For Bailey Miles and other students attending the College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC) in Minneapolis that is far from the case.
"This conference reminded me that cooperatives have so much variety and serve so many different purposes," says Miles, who is pursuing a commodity merchandising degree from Lake Area Technical Institute.
Hosted by National Farmers Union, the three-day seminar works to accomplish just that.
"Cooperatives play an important role in strengthening rural and urban economies and communities across the country. NFU's CCOC engages tomorrow's agricultural leaders in applying cooperative business principles and learning about opportunities available to them through the cooperative model," says NFU President Roger Johnson.