Posts for August 2017

Farmers Union Launches Initiative to Expand Ethanol and Biofuel Markets

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Today, South Dakota Farmers Union together with National Farmers Union and other state organizations, unveiled an initiative to advance federal policies that support U.S. renewable energy sources.

 The initiative will promote legislative and regulatory solutions to expand markets for higher blends of ethanol, like E30, and advanced biofuels.

 "While the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has been good for agriculture and rural America, it's time to put the RFS in the rear view mirror and go further for the future. Stopping at E15 does not improves the price South Dakota's farmers' receive at harvest for the corn they raise," says Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union.  "Agriculture is our states number, one economic driver. When we have an opportunity to boost markets that support our number one industry, we need to take it. That's what this initiative does."

 Sombke said the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) interpretation of the Clean Air Act has restricted the sale of mid-level high-octane fuel.

 "National energy labs have demonstrated that high-octane blends do not impair performance in non-flex fuel or standard vehicles and that use of E30 would reduce harmful emissions more effectively than E10," Sombke explains.

 Anne Steckel, a veteran energy, environment and agriculture policy specialist will be leading National Farmers Union's efforts in Washington, D.C.

 "Federal-level policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have reaped tremendous gains for the farming and rural communities that grow and produce renewable, bio-based fuels," said Steckel. "NFU will continue its avid support of the RFS and pursue innovative policy solutions that expand renewable energy demand, development and infrastructure."

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Media Advisory: Farmers Union to Roll out Initiative to Expand Use of Ethanol, Advanced Biofuels

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WASHINGTON - The transition to a homegrown, renewable energy future for America is underway. Biofuels, higher blends of ethanol in gasoline, and advanced, bio-based technologies are reaping tremendous benefits for our environment and providing much-needed economic stability to America's farming and rural communities. The U.S. must implement federal-level policies that encourage expanded markets for these energy sources and remove regulatory barriers that inhibit their growth.

To that end, National Farmers Union (NFU), in conjunction with state Farmers Union divisions, will roll out an initiative to advance federal policies that support home grown and home-produced renewable energy sources. NFU President Roger Johnson will be joined by South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke and veteran energy, environment, and agriculture policy specialist Anne Steckel, who will lead the effort.

 WHO: National Farmers Union

 WHAT: NFU Rollout of Ethanol and Advanced Biofuel Initiative

 PARTICIPANTS: Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union

                              Doug Sombke, president, South Dakota Farmers Union

                              Anne Steckel, biofuels advisor, National Farmers Union

 WHERE: 800-875-3456; verbal passcode (spoken to operator): JOHN24548

 WHEN: 10:00 a.m. ET (9 a.m. Central), August 23, 2017

 For more information, contact Andrew Jerome at

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SDFU Foundation $500 Scholarship Applications Due Nov. 1

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 South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation will be awarding three $500 scholarships to young people who commit to attending a South Dakota college, university or technical school and are children of parents who are current dues-paying members of South Dakota Farmers Union. 

 Scholarships are available to high school seniors or freshmen currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution in South Dakota.

 "South Dakota Farmers Union is all about building South Dakota's rural communities," says Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President. "We invest in rural youth from the time they are in early elementary school and old enough to attend County Day Camps."

 Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director, adds, "These scholarships ensure that the young individuals focusing on rural endeavors are supported along the way. Keeping students in South Dakota is important for the legacy and sustainability of rural communities."

 Deadline is Nov. 1. No late or incomplete applications will be accepted.

 Applications can be found on the S.D. Farmers Union website,, at a local Farmers Union cooperative, or through a local Farmers Union Insurance agent.

 If you do not apply through the online application form, all documents should be mailed to: South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship Committee, PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350-1388; and must be postmarked Nov. 1 or before.

 If you have any questions, contact Haigh-Blume at or 605-352-6761, ext.125.

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South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Offers $2,500 Agricultural Graduate School Scholarship 2017

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Applications for the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Graduate School Scholarship are now available at

 The Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship is designed to help retain talent in South Dakota to support South Dakota's agriculture industry. It is open to students from South Dakota, pursuing a graduate degree in research, animal science, agriculture business or agriculture education at an accredited South Dakota school.

 "Education is our future. This scholarship is one way Farmers Union works to help retain highly skilled individuals in South Dakota," said Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde farmer.

 Application deadline is Nov. 15.

Also sponsored by Travelers Motor Club, scholarship preference is given to students from South Dakota who have/had an affiliation with Farmers Union. Awards are for one academic year, beginning in the fall, and students may reapply at the end of the award period.

 Eligible graduate students include on-campus and distance education students who are pursuing any master's or doctoral program, agriculture teacher certification program (CERT/FCSC) or graduate certificate program (GCERT).

 To learn more, contact Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director, South Dakota Farmers Union, at or call 605-352-6761 ext.114.

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S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Schiley Ranch Family

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S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Schiley Ranch Family

By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union

It's a hot June day and Hope Schiley is on Chico, riding out past the tree belt. When her mom and dad drive out to check on their 5-year-old, she is smiling.

 "Just this summer she really started to enjoy riding. It's fun to see her confidence," says Karin, a fourth-generation cattle producer, who like her husband, Roy John "R.J.," has been riding horses since childhood.

 Once Hope is safely home, Karin, 38, and R.J., 39, head out over the open range to check on a group of pairs grazing in a pasture nearby.

 "The best part of the ranching lifestyle is your kids are always with you," Karin says. "We do rotational grazing, so most days the kids and I will go out to check mineral and water or move the cattle from one pasture to the next."

 Married in 2001, the couple has five school-age children: Macy, 13; Cash, 10; Kate, 9; Hope, 5 and Anne, 4.

 A few pasture gates later, the cows come into view.  Content, they barely acknowledge the pickup.

 The bovines are clearly not concerned by the season-long drought which is top of mind for R.J. and Karin.

 It rained last night. The couple hundredths of an inch of moisture was welcomed with optimism that more will follow.

 "Water is the No. 1 thing," R.J. explains. "When I planted crops this spring the soil was bone dry. It is hard to put those dollars-per-acre in dry ground. But, you always need to be optimistic. If we catch half an inch of rain at the right time - that may be all the crops need."

 "You have to have a little bit of faith," Karin adds.

 Optimistic and faithful, Karin and R.J. are also realists.

 The couple explained that the 2017 drought has dictated several management changes.

To read the complete article and view a photo gallery click here.

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Community Heroes Honored & Farmers Feed Fairgoers During 2017 Farmers Union Day at the State Fair

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 S.D. Farmers Union will be busy celebrating South Dakota's family farmers, ranchers and those who give back to their rural communities during the 2017 Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair, Sept. 2.

"The State Fair is the perfect place to celebrate the people who make up South Dakota agriculture and a great opportunity to visit with those who are not directly tied to farms and ranches," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and a fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle producer.  

The Farmers Share Lunch provides one of the best opportunities for farmers, ranchers and the public to mix and mingle, said Terry Sestak, District 1 Farmers Union board member, and fourth-generation Tabor farmer.

 Held in the Farmers Union Tent directly across from the Freedom Stage, the Farmers Share Luncheon, gives fairgoers an opportunity to learn just how much of the grocery store price tag South Dakota's farmers and ranchers take home after harvesting the crops or livestock they raise.

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2017 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Winners will be Recognized During 2017 Farmers Union Day at the S.D. State Fair

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The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, have announced the recipients of the annual Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarships. Scholarship recipients will be recognized during the 2017 South Dakota Farmers Union Day at the State Fair, Sept. 2 on the Freedom Stage across from the Farmers Union Tent.

 Twenty-five high school seniors from across South Dakota will share $25,000 in scholarships to be used to further their education at a South Dakota post-secondary school. 

 Over the past 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools.

Each of the 25 scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 to put toward their post-secondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school. The recipients were chosen from among a large pool of applicants. They were scored 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.

 Farmers Union Insurance agents throughout the state fund this scholarship program administered by the Farmers Union Foundation. "Our insurance agents are committed to building a brighter future in South Dakota," says Jason Wells, Regional Manager of Farmers Union Insurance Agency. "This is a remarkable group and they make me excited about the future of our great state. We're choosing to invest in these outstanding individuals to help them pursue their goals and aspirations." 

The winners are as follows: Laken Olson, Britton-Hecla High School; Wyatt Ewing, Winner High School; Garrison Gross, Mitchell High School; Hannah Juracek, Gregory High School; Brooklyn Halverson, Lyman High School; Seth Overbay, Huron High School; Ellen Schlechter, Faulkton High School; Kaihlen Smith, Mitchell High School;  Sopie McKee, Yankton High School; Shannon Fanning, Scotland High School; Jacey Anderberg, Yankton High School; MaKenzie Dean, Parker High School; Evan Steers, Miller High School; Timothy Paris, Rapid City Central High School; Mallory Trapp, Milbank High School; Kindra Clark, Garretson High School; Kate Katterhagen, Yankton High School; Kristan Soukup, Wagner Community School; Tori Gaer, Newell High School; Jadyn Woodward, Dupree High School; April Hoffman, Leola High School;  Janae Gustafson, Ethan High School; Kaylee Braun, Ipswich High School; Drew DeMers, Winner High School and Grace Geohring, Selby Area High School.

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