Posts for August 2018

2018 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Winners Recognition Ceremony Sept. 1 at the South Dakota State Fair

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The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, will recognize the 2018 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarship recipients Sept. 1 at 10:30 a.m. on the Freedom Stage. 

Each of the scholarship recipients receive $1,000 to put toward their post secondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school.

Over the past 11 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $275,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools.

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." 

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Celebrate the 2018 Rural Dakota Pride Honorees during Farmers Union Day at the State Fair

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Each year, SDFU recognizes individuals who give back to their communities with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. 

The 2018 honorees include: Tim Holzer, Arlington; Diana Runge, Wessington; Roger Deiter, Faulkton; John and Maria Condon, Colome; Amy Hofer, Doland; and Joe Schnell, Lake Preston.

To meet the 2018 honorees, attend the Rural Dakota Pride Ceremony held on the Freedom Stage at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 1, during Farms Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair.

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

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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 December 15, 2018

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.

Mike Bredeson, a South Dakota State University doctorate student was the 2018 the recipient of the $2,500 South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Graduate Student Scholarship.

 "Our rural communities are struggling for many reasons. Agriculture is the foundation of rural communities. If we can bolster our agricultural producers by helping them to diversify their operations, conserve natural resources and improve profitability, the result will be invigorated farm economies," explains Bredeson.

 To apply, visit

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Meet the 2018 S.D. Farmers Union Junior Advisory Council

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How can cooperation build a brighter tomorrow? This was a question considered by campers during the 2018 S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp as they elected a six-member Junior Advisory Council (JAC).

Members selected from communities across South Dakota include: Charlee Byrd, White Lake; Landon Copley, Aberdeen; Abby Dethlefsen, Stickney; Justin Goetz, Selby; Cassidy Keller, Canistota and Caleb Nugteren, Canistota.

As the week progressed campers were asked to discuss subjects that hit close to home for much of the population, cybersecurity, mental health and coping skills.

During the week-long camp, held this summer at Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City, campers had the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers teaching them valuable lessons on how they can be a positive impact in the lives of others.

"Brighter tomorrows ensure that we are teaching our young leaders how to be safe and resilient in a tough world," explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "Words of kindness aren't flowing freely in the world today and simply put, we tend to believe negative comments over positive comments. Taking time for campers to focus on how to handle difficult situations, how to ask for help and how to be resilient when there are bad days are valuable life skills and how we work toward brighter tomorrows."

Read on to learn more about the Junior Advisory Council.

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National Farmers Union, Farmers Union Enterprises & Urban Air Initiative Announce Alliance to Pursue Expanded Use Of American-Grown, High-Octane Biofuels

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WASHINGTON - In an effort to expand the market for domestic agriculture products, reduce harmful emissions and provide consumers with lower cost fuel choices, National Farmers Union, Farmers Union Enterprises and the Urban Air Initiative announced they have formed a strategic alliance to expand the use of American-grown biofuels.

The three groups intend to pursue a broad spectrum of advocacy and advertising activities in furtherance of social, regulatory and legislative solutions to current barriers that limit the amount of biofuels used in the nation's transportation sector.

Roger Johnson, president of the nearly 200,000 family farmer- and rancher-led National Farmers Union, hailed the alliance as a "timely and powerful marriage of urban and rural priorities." "Protecting the public health and welfare-and at the same time improving the rural economy and benefiting family farmers, is a win-win for America."

Farmers Union Enterprises President Doug Sombke said there is an unprecedented opportunity at hand with the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT/NHTSA) proposed rule requesting input on whether and how U.S. regulatory policy should require higher quality, cleaner burning fuels such as E30. Automakers have said they need these fuels to power next-generation higher compression engines, resulting in improved fuel efficiency, a reduction in carbon and other harmful emissions, and significant cost savings for consumers at the pump.

Urban Air Initiative Director Trevor Hinz noted that the vast body of best available science proves renewable ethanol's superior octane properties substantially reduce the most harmful mobile source air toxics (MSATs), the predominant source of which are benzene-based aromatics that refiners synthesize from crude oil. Hinz cited the mandatory provision in the Clean Air Act that requires EPA/OTAQ to reduce MSATs to the "greatest extent technologies present themselves."

Sombke, also President of South Dakota Farmers Union, added that "at the end of the day, this is about putting America first and making sure that unaccountable regulators are not allowed to create an artificial monopoly for oil interests that harm consumers, the environment, and exacerbate our trade deficit."

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S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates Community Heroes, Farmers & Ranchers During SDFU Day at the State Fair

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South Dakota Farmers Union will celebrate community heroes, family farmers and ranchers and educate consumers on current challenges facing our state's No. 1 industry of agriculture during the 2018 Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair Sept. 1. SDFU is a Premier Sponsor of the South Dakota State Fair.

 "For more than a century, Farmers Union has supported our state's family farmers and ranchers - and this year, with low commodity prices, made worse by the current trade war, our farmers and ranchers need every bit of support we can provide them through policy development, lobbying congressional leaders and consumer education," explains Doug Sombke, SDFU President and a fourth-generation Conde farmer.

 To educate consumers on the current low prices, on Sept. 1, SDFU serves a Farmers Share lunch, charging fairgoers the price a South Dakota farmer would receive for the ingredients used to make a $12 lunch.

 This year the organization will only be collecting 25 cents.

 "When consumers buy a pound of burger at the store and pay $5, they think I'm making $5 a pound for the cattle I raise. This simply isn't the case," explains Colome farmer, Joel Keierleber. "Consumers really don't understand that most of their food dollars go to the middle man. For example, I only receive about $1.80 for that pound of burger."

 And, like every cow/calf producer in South Dakota, Keierleber is responsible for the health and welfare of the cattle day-in and day-out until they are sold to a feeder or processor.

 "As farmers or ranchers, we're the ones taking care of the critter for up to two years and receiving a very small fraction of the grocery store price," Keierleber explains.

 Each year the farmers share lunch feeds more than 1,000.

 "This is one of our largest educational events," says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "Education is a mission our grassroots organization takes seriously."

 Throughout the year, SDFU hosts educational events for youth, rural professionals and community leaders, and farm and ranch couples. This year the organization expanded their educational offerings, with the SDFU Farm Safety trailer, a mobile, interactive classroom designed to provide rural youth with farm safety training.

Fairgoers will have an opportunity to go through the trailer during the state fair.

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SDFU Farm Safety Trailer Brings Hands-On Safety Education to Your Community

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For decades, South Dakota Farmers Union has brought farm safety education to hundreds of rural youth through county camps held each summer.

 This year, the grassroots organization is taking the message of farm safety on the road - literally.

 The SDFU Farm Safety Trailer is a portable, hands-on classroom dedicated educating rural youth across South Dakota.

 "Education is one of our organization's three focuses. The hands-on nature of this trailer will enhance this mission and allow us to provide farm safety education to youth year-round," explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

 Tracy Chase agrees. Chase teaches science and co-teaches agriculture education at McCook Central High School. "When learning is hands-on, it engages students' thought processes so they understand what they are learning," explains Chase, who was honored by Farmers Union in 2016 for her involvement in SDFU county camps, with the Minnie Lovenger Award.

 Chase says farm safety is a very real concern. "A farm safety accident had a large impact on our community this last year when a senior rolled his ATV and sustained a severe concussion that kept him from playing sports. Accidents touch close to home. Everyone needs reminders - youth and adults."

 Preventing accidents through fun and interaction is the No. 1 goal of the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer, explains Rocky Forman, SDFU Member Services Coordinator.

"We are eager to partner with schools, 4-H clubs and FFA chapters and other organizations to bring our safety trailer to rural communities so South Dakota youth receive farm safety education that we hope prevents accidents and worse," Forman explains.

 Complete with an ATV simulator, grain bin safety, PTO safety and more, the trailer was designed by the SDFU team based on research and creatively addressing common safety concerns. "The trailer took more than a year to design and develop, but the result is worth it," Hofhenke says.

 To see the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer for yourself, check it out during the 2018 South Dakota State Fair held in Huron Aug. 30 through Sept. 3. To bring the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer to your community, contact Forman at 605-350-3421 or

Tucker Micheel of Cavour, learns about ATV safety with help from an ATV simulator and Rocky Forman, SDFU Member Services Coordinator. The ATV safety simulator is one of the many hands-on safety exhibits featured in the South Dakota Farmers Union

Farm Safety Trailer,  a portable, classroom dedicated to educating rural youth across South Dakota.

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Three South Dakota Teens Elected to National Farmers Union Youth Council

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HURON, S.D. - Three South Dakota teens were elected to the National Farmers Union (NFU) National Youth Advisory Council during the 82nd annual NFU All-States Leadership Camp held in Bailey, Colorado.

 "Serving on this council is a great opportunity for me to continue to grow as a person and a leader," said Canistota High School senior, Caleb Nugteren, 17.

 Youth members of South Dakota Farmers Union, Nugteren, Jim Brockel, Shadehill and Justin Goetz, Selby, were elected to serve a one-year term on the National Youth Advisory Council by their peers from across the nation during the week-long leadership camp. During their year of service they will represent thousands of Farmers Union youth from across the nation at the 2019 NFU National Convention, in Washington D.C., and the team will be actively involved in the planning of the 2019 All-States Camp.

 "NYAC builds leaders in the agriculture industry and ensures the voice of younger generations is heard and respected in what the organization does," says Roger Johnson, NFU President. "Over the course of the next year, these six youths will serve as representatives of their peers, learn about the legislative process and lobbying, and present in front of hundreds of NFU members and press at the NFU convention. I'm confident they will be strong advocates for both the organization and young people in agriculture."

 Advocating for agriculture is a task Brockel is eager to participate in. A graduate of Bison High School, Brockel grew up working on his family's ranch.

 "The strength of agriculture impacts me, my neighbors and my community. I'm eager to share my story with Congressional leaders in D.C. and hear what other Farmers Union members have to say during policy discussions at National Convention," says Brockel, who will be attending the University of South Dakota this fall.

 As members of the National Youth Advisory Council, these South Dakota youth will also serve as role models to the many youth across the nation who participate in Farmers Union youth programming. Serving as a mentor is not a new role for Goetz, a Selby Area High School senior.

 "I like to help others," explains Goetz, who currently serves on the SDFU Junior Advisory Council, the team which plans Farmers Union annual state leadership camp. "Encouraging and motivating others to do better is something I work to do."

 All three youth have been actively involved in SDFU youth programming for a number of years and say the leadership skills they developed through the annual State Leadership Camp helped them achieve this new service role.

 "Attending Farmers Union Leadership Camp really pushed me to step outside my comfort zone," explains Nugteren. "I am not typically a person who enjoys speaking in front of people, but because of the experience I have gained over the years, I now enjoy meeting new people and feel comfortable public speaking."

 The South Dakota teens will serve with youth from North Dakota, Riley Lebahn; Minnesota, Jade Person; and Wisconsin, Camryn Billen.

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South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Hotchkiss Farm Family of Colton

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By Lura Roti for S.D. Farmers Union

 Paul Hotchkiss' first love is farming.

 "I don't know why it's what I love, but I do. It's what I've done all my life," explains the fourth-generation farmer, who has been running farm equipment since he was 6.

 "His mom and dad told stories of how Paul would sit and play with the baby pigs when he was supposed to be doing chores," adds his forever love and wife, Myrna.

 For the first 50 years, farming and the community of Colton were his life. Then, Paul met Myrna. Together the couple have built a fuller life together, sharing the joys and challenges farming brings.

 The couple met through a group of friends who would go dancing together on the weekends.

 "Paul was such a good dancer," Myrna says. "One weekend, he didn't show up and we didn't have many guys to dance with, so I asked for Paul's number and gave him a call."

 The two began visiting nearly every evening and quickly became close friends. To read more, click here.

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