Posts for July 2019

S.D. Farmers Union Welcomes Luke Reindl

 – By


There’s so much going on in the world today, that the challenges family farmers and ranchers face are often not heard by policy makers. Luke Reindl hopes he can help create positive change through his new position as Communications & Policy Specialist with S.D. Farmers Union.

“I think it’s so noisy in the world we live in right now, it’s easy for what’s going on with our family farmers and ranchers to get lost in the mix. I wanted to join Farmers Union so I could be a voice for them and advocate on their behalf,” explains Reindl, who grew up on a cow/calf and crop operation near Wessington Springs.

In his role, Reindl will work closely with members and state staff to enhance and support the organization’s communication and policy efforts.

Working directly with members, meeting with them on their farms and ranches is an aspect of his work that he is familiar with. Prior to joining SD Farmers Union’ team, Reindl worked as a branch manager and ag banker for American Bank and Trust in Wessington Springs.

“Being able to work directly with producers is where I get the greatest reward,” Reindl says. “I understand the direct impact markets and weather have had on our producer families, and I am eager to advocate on their behalf.”

To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union and the work the grassroots organization does to support South Dakota’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities, visit www.sdfu.org.

Read More

Last Modified:


Truth in Labeling, Food Security, Pre-K Education & More Focus of 2019 State Policy Meeting

 – By


Truth in labeling, E30, affordable housing, pre-K education and food security topped the list of policy discussed during South Dakota Farmers Union annual State Policy meeting, held July 24, 2019, in Huron at the Crossroads Convention Center.

“This is grassroots policy development in action,” explains Doug Sombke, SDFU President. “Leading up to State Convention, this is the most important meetings we participate in. It sets the base for 2020 policy. Members from across the state have a chance to have their voices heard and impact our organization’s policy focus moving forward.”

During the afternoon meeting, members from across the state review the SDFU policy book, discuss and vote on updates suggested by the State Policy Committee. “It’s our job as a committee to listen to what members in our district are saying about changes they’d like to see, review the policy book and see where they would fit,” explains Policy Committee Chair, Jenae Hansen, a sixth-generation South Dakotan, working as a social work consultant for B Consulting, LLC, whose family farms near Turton.

The Policy Committee also reviews the policy book for outdated language, laws or language that needs clarification. In addition to Hansen, who represents District 7, other members of the Policy Committee include Dist. 1, David Cap, Yankton; Dist. 2, Scott Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Dist. 4, Hank Wonnenberg, Gregory; Dist. 5, Mary Ellen Cammack, Sturgis and Dist. 6, Dani Beer, Keldron.

“I enjoy seeing grassroots policy come together from members’ ideas and solutions,” explains Keldron rancher, Danni Beer of why she agreed to serve District 6 as a Policy Committee member. “This meeting, and state convention, are a great way for members to voice their thoughts on policy that they don’t agree with or don’t think is worded quite right.”

Winner farmer, Joel Keierleber agrees. “There are a lot of issues to look at and address,” he explains. And, although he could have spent the day repairing fence taken out by spring floods, Keierleber, like many other members, made time for the Policy Meeting.

From its inception more than a century ago, developing policy to support family farmers, ranchers and rural communities has been a focus of Farmers Union. And, for many members, policy development is a role they take seriously.

“Policy is very important. It’s something I truly love, so having the opportunity to use some of my policy development knowledge and experience to serve an organization I care a lot about is a great opportunity,” Hansen says. “As a membership organization, that is truly driven by its members, this policy meeting is so important because it structures what our voice will be when we advocate and talk with legislators.”

 To learn more about SDFU current policy, contact Karla Hofhenke for a copy of the policy book. All policy discussed and voted on during the State Policy Meeting, will be reviewed and voted on again by delegates during the 2019 State Convention.

Read More

Last Modified:


Get to Know 2019 Rural Dakota Pride Honoree, Franklin Olson, Pierpont

 – By

When Franklin Olson commits to something, he follows through. As a little boy he decided he would farm. As a young man, he expanded his dream, determining to farm 1,000 acres – even though he and his wife, JoAnne had to start from scratch.

Through hard work and tenacity, they expanded and eventually Franklin was farming 1,000 acres and milking a herd of milk cows.

For nearly 65 years, Franklin applied the same dedication to the many organizations he has served. He was only 18 when Farmers Union Independence Local 923 asked him to serve as their Secretary/Treasurer and he said “yes,” and never missed a meeting until he left town for two years to serve in the Army. When he returned, he resumed his role, and went on to serve several terms as Day County Farmers Union President. He served several years on the Brown/Day/Marshall Rural Water System and as well as the State Rural Water Board, helping guide them through several phases of development; served on the board of directors for FSA board as well as the board of the Strand Kjorsvig Living Center and served on the Farmers Union Oil Company board of directors for 35 years – missing only two meetings. Franklin recently completed six years of service, representing District 3 on the South Dakota Farmers Union State Board of Directors.

“It’s always easy to work hard for something you thoroughly believe in,” Franklin says. “I’m glad that a lot of the things I was involved in turned out to be good and successful.”

A strong advocate for Farmers Union and cooperatives, Franklin says both have played a vital role in supporting South Dakota’s farmers. “If we didn’t have cooperatives in our country right now, farmers would not have a local place to do business. Farmers Union is the number one farm organization. We have always fought for family farmers, fair prices and education programs,” he said. “Like agriculture, our cooperative has evolved quite a bit. I have watched it grow from a small cooperative to merge with a cooperative in a neighboring community to better serve farmers throughout our region.”

Because Franklin began serving at such a young age, he had to fit meetings and service activities into his already busy farm and dairy schedule. “Some mornings I got up early, and some nights I worked late. JoAnne was always a great support,” says Franklin, noting that his typical workday began at 5 a.m. since they milked the cows at 6. “People who milk cows do things on time.”

More about Rural Dakota Pride

Franklin is one of five volunteers recognized for their selfless contributions to South Dakota rural communities by South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) with the 2019 Rural Dakota Pride Honor August 31, during the 2019 South Dakota State Fair.

“Community is created and maintained through the efforts of volunteers,” explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

The other 2019 Rural Dakota Pride honorees include: Angie Mueller, Ethan; Jim Lane, Groton; Rich Bakeberg, Frederick and Jeannie Hofer, Huron.

As an organization which serves South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers, Doug Sombke, SDFU President, says Farmers Union recognizes the important role strong rural communities play in supporting agriculture producers and their families.

“South Dakota’s agriculture producers and their communities are closely connected. In good economic times they both prosper. When the economy is down, like today with the trade war, low commodity prices and extreme weather conditions, they both feel the pain,” Sombke said. “The Rural Dakota Pride honor is one of many ways SDFU works to show our support for both.”

Read More

Last Modified:


Self-Care for Farmers, Communication & Finding Balance Discussed During Summer Farmers Union Enterprise Seminar

 – By



When it comes to challenges, we all have the opportunity to choose how we will react. This was one of many relevant messages delivered during the Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Seminar held June 2019 in Wisconsin.  

“Given the planting season we just came off of, it is good to be mindful of that fact that yes, the environment stinks and planting season stinks, but I still make my own decision of how I am going to react to it,” explains De Smet farmer, Rob Lee.

When faced with a challenge, the presenter encouraged agriculture producers to take a moment to reflect on the situation. “Is this an inconvenience or a real problem,” explains Darci Lee, Rob’s wife.


Rob and Darcie represent South Dakota in the one-year program that hosts a farm or ranch couple from each of the following five states: North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana. The Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program was developed to substantiate and empower future leaders for rural America and Farmers Union through leadership, citizenship and policy development training.

 In addition to discussing ways to address challenges, communication, self-care and navigating personal and professional balance were also discussed. “This seminar gave us an opportunity to discuss our priorities and how to be better communicators with others and our spouse,” Darcie says.

She adds that they benefited from time spent discussing the topics with other agriculture producers. “It is interesting how even though our operations look much different, we face similar challenges and struggles.”

Tours to a cranberry bog and robotic dairy were also part of the four-day seminar. The cranberry bog is owned by farmers who belong to the Ocean Spray cooperative. And, the robotic dairy is owned by family farmers who milk 160-head of dairy cows.

“Learning about different types of agriculture helped us think outside-the-box,” Darcie explains. “We began talking about ways we can be more efficient on our farm.”

Getting more involved is another take-away the Lees mention. “This program is steering us in a direction to become more comfortable getting involved,” Rob says.

Darcie adds that the first day home, the State Policy Meeting flyer was in their mail. “Before participating in this seminar, I would probably ignore the flyer since the meeting is during the day, on a Wednesday. But now, I feel like we should go and see if we have input to share. Nothing will change in our favor if we do not get involved.”

More about Rob and Darcie Lee

Rob and Darcie raise crops and a small herd of alpaca near De Smet. In addition to the farm, Darcie is a nurse, working at Horizon Health Care Clinic in De Smet and Rob works as a crop insurance adjustor. The couple have two young children, 3-year-old Everett and 9-month-old Rosene.

Rob’s dad, Roger, introduced him to Farmers Union. Rob helped lobby Congressional Leaders on behalf of South Dakota agriculture during the 2018 D.C. Fly-In and then took the policy advocacy skills he gained in D.C. and put them to work during SDFU Legislative Day in Pierre.

Throughout their year of involvement in Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program, the Lee’s will provide members with Union Farmer updates. To learn more about this program and how to get involved, contact Karla Hofhenke at Karla@sdfu.org.

Read More

Last Modified:


Get to Know 2019 Rural Dakota Pride Honoree, Jeannie Hofer, Huron

 – By

Get to Know 2019 Rural Dakota Pride Honoree, Jeannie Hofer, Huron

When Jeannie Hofer explains her work as a volunteer with Manolis Family Safe Center she says, “It’s about accepting and helping and extending a hand and a heart.”

Extending a hand and opening her heart to those in need is second nature for Jeannie, 69, who is grateful an aunt and uncle were there for her, taking her in and raising her when she and her siblings were left without a home due to domestic violence.

The Manolis Family Safe Center is a volunteer organization for victims of domestic abuse and their children. Along with providing victims with a safe place to live, Jeannie and other volunteers take turns buying groceries, cleaning and doing home maintenance, driving family members to counseling and doctor appointments and anything else necessary to “help them feel empowered and in control of their own life,” Jeannie explains. “We give them a new avenue to follow so they don’t have to fall back into the same domestic situation. We can give them guidance to help them make better choices.”

Although she does provide support services to adult victims, Jeannie says her focus is typically the children. “I was one myself. When it comes to domestic violence, children don’t have a choice. Parents do. The children need someone there for them,” Jeannie says. “I encourage them and let them know this is not their fault, and they don’t need to let this experience come between them and their future.”

Even before volunteering for the domestic abuse shelter, Jeannie, a mom to three now grown children, Melissa, Jennifer and Mike, says she and her husband, Wayne, have always had an open-door policy when it came to helping kids. Over the years the couple has opened their home up to several children who needed support or a place to stay.

“I was blessed as a child to have an aunt and uncle who took care of me, so I’ve always wanted to do the same,” she says.

In addition to the Manolis Family Safe Center, Jeannie, who is a small business owner, also volunteers with Coats for Kids, Salvation Army and is an active member of Bethesda Church.

“Huron is where I live. I want to pay back to my community. We have excellent supporters in Huron. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she says.

More about Rural Dakota Pride

Jeannie is one of five volunteers recognized for their selfless contributions to South Dakota rural communities by South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) with the 2019 Rural Dakota Pride Honor August 31, during the 2019 South Dakota State Fair.

“Community is created and maintained through the efforts of volunteers,” explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

The other 2019 Rural Dakota Pride honorees include: Angie Mueller, Ethan; Jim Lane, Groton; Rich Bakeberg, Frederick and Franklin Olson, Pierpont.

As an organization which serves South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers, Doug Sombke, SDFU President, says Farmers Union recognizes the important role strong rural communities play in supporting agriculture producers and their families.

“South Dakota’s agriculture producers and their communities are closely connected. In good economic times they both prosper. When the economy is down, like today with the trade war, low commodity prices and extreme weather conditions, they both feel the pain,” Sombke said. “The Rural Dakota Pride honor is one of many ways SDFU works to show our support for both.”

Read More

Last Modified:


Gasolinegate: Three Decades of Flawed Emission Reports Has Endangered Public

 – By


WASHINGTON, DC, July 2, 2019: The 263 million gasoline vehicles on American roadways are emitting significantly more harmful emissions than being reported, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is ignoring the dangers of toxic compounds in gasoline, according to a new report released this week.

Simply titled Gasolinegate, the report (and public service announcement video) was produced by Farmers Union Enterprises (FUE) and according to FUE Chairman Doug Sombke, it chronicles three decades of EPA collusion with the industry they are responsible for regulating, which FUE believes resulted in harming the public they are sworn to protect. Emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act provide a history of what they call inaccurate testing of fuels and calculations of emissions. The result, FUE says, is much greater risk to the public than reported.

Despite dozens of reputable and peer reviewed studies confirming that ultrafine toxic particulates are one of the most serious public health threats in urban areas, and have been linked to pre-term births, IQ loss, and asthma, not enough has been done, according to Sombke. Dieselgate was about the public health impact of 500,000 cars emitting more emissions than the public was told, and the cover up by Volkswagen by using on board computers as a “defeat device”. Gasolinegate is about 263 million cars and light duty trucks emitting more than reported, particularly more toxic/carcinogenic emissions – for decades. 90% of urban Particulate (PM) emissions come from mobile sources, not power plants, and more than 80% of mobile source PM emissions come from gasoline powered vehicles, not diesel.

Farmers Union Enterprises took on this project to dispel the myths and misinformation that has kept clean burning ethanol out of the market, according to Sombke. “In their relentless effort to block competition, the monopoly of big oil extends to a revolving door policy of the petroleum industry infiltrating EPA, Congress, and other Federal agencies. Our research chronicles a consistent pattern of EPA always siding with the petroleum industry in its rulings and interpretations, failing to recognize Congressional intent and failing to act in the public interest,” said Sombke.

“All we are asking is to make gasoline safe for the public and to open the door to alternative fuels that meet a wide range of public policy goals. EPA has the authority and responsibility to protect public health and has to break the stranglehold of big oil to do its job.”

Related research and information: Safe Gasoline Public Education and Consumer Awareness Campaign Library/Website

Read More

Last Modified:


Categories:

By Year:

By Month: