SDFU Honors Cancer Awareness Month with H.O.P.E.S. Bags
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it would be terminating the Farmer Fair Practices Rule on Competitive Injury, a rule that would have provided the most basic of protections to American family farmers and ranchers as they endure increasingly concentrated markets and unfair treatment from multinational meatpackers.
South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
"SDFU is deeply disappointed in today's decision by the USDA and realizes the negative impact it will have on rural Americans. Withdrawing the rule shows little respect for family farmers and ranchers and a big win for multinational packers. This President and Administration has yet again let down the rural Americans who gave their support to get him into office to begin with. Leaving them to wonder when rural Americans will see a return on support from their own president."
"Clarifications in the Packers and Stockyards Act is a high priority for SDFU. Our efforts in addressing this impactful issue for our industry will not waiver. SDFU will encourage Congress and the Administration to clarify the loopholes left as a result of the withdrawal."
By Lura Roti for SDFU
Until recently, when Shelly and George Kenzy paid their monthly bills, they wrote a check for $2,600 to their health insurance provider. A large expense for the farm family of five who raise cattle and forage crops near Gregory.
"Health insurance is a big deal for our family because our daughter, Brooklynn, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was 10-months-old," explains Shelly, noting that without insurance, the insulin which literally keeps the otherwise healthy and athletic 13-year-old alive, would cost $600 out-of-pocket each month - not to mention the two monitors she wears at all times costing about $11,500 and then there are testing supplies and three yearly visits to the endocrinologist.
The out-of-pocket insurance expense dropped to just a little over $400 a month when the family signed up for group insurance thanks to Shelly's position at the local public school.
"This insurance is a huge deal. It means we know we can keep Brooklynn using the latest technology and don't have to worry about using older ways to treat diabetes," Shelly explains. "This gives her a healthier future because her numbers are steady. We don't have to worry as much about future health problems."
By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union
Finding South Dakota authors isn't an easy task. Creative writer and high school English teacher Jason Kurtz should know, he spent a few years looking.
"I was doing research and it turned up an old Rapid City Journal article that listed nine South Dakota authors - eight featured in the article were dead," explains Kurtz, who made it his mission to unite regional writers and other artists.
He launched a non-profit South Dakota Writes in 2016 and through its Facebook page Kurtz began connecting with more than 450 South Dakota authors - 150 of whom have published books.
By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union
When it comes to his farm, it doesn't take much to make Gary Hanson smile.
"I just enjoy going out and putting in fence. The posts are straight, the wires are tight - it gives me joy," explains the fourth-generation Sisseton farmer. "I tell people that when I was a college student, farming was my distraction. I loved it and knew that I could return to the farm, so that's what I did."
At 67, Hanson's passion for farming has not dwindled, but his focus has expanded beyond his crops and cattle.
Today, his son, Cody, 42, is making most of the decisions Gary and his brother, Paul, used to make.
"Like my dad, I liked tractors and cattle - I played farmer when I was growing up - I enjoy what I do," explains Cody, who lives on the farm, next door to his mom and dad, with his wife, Shawn, and their four school-age children, Reece, 16; Parker, 14; Kennedy, 10; and Scarlett, 6.
Gary says handing over the reins to Cody has given him more time to enjoy farm tasks, time spent outdoors and allowed him to become more engaged in his other passion - serving South Dakota's farmers and ranchers.
Over the last two decades, Gary has traded in some on-farm responsibilities for off-farm agriculture advocacy.
To read more and view a photo gallery click here
To listen to a recorded interview with the Hansons, click here