102nd South Dakota Farmers Union Convention
by Lura Roti, for S.D. Farmers Union
Since their son, Tate was born four years ago, finding quality, stable childcare has been an on-going challenge for Loni and Travis Brown.
When Tate was a newborn, Loni, who had been working as a Building Specialist at Cammack Ranch Supply in Union Center, quit her job and began working in the infant room at a Sturgis daycare center so she could remain his primary caregiver.
Soon however, Loni knew she needed to find a job that provided the family with healthcare benefits. The daycare didn't offer benefits and benefits through Travis' employer, at that time, were too expensive.
When she began working for Black Hills Credit Union, Loni found an in-home daycare for Tate. "In-home care just seemed like an overall better environment for him. It was more personal and hands-on. It was also a more calm environment because there were only 10 kids versus the center's 70," she explains.
by Christina Dexter, Legislative Specialist
Like many farmers, a typical harvest day for John Voss consists of long hours spent in the combine focusing on one goal - getting his crops out before the weather turns and makes it impossible.
"Harvest days are hectic," says the third generation Andover farmer. "We don't have much spare time during harvest because we are working with small windows in the weather. I spend most of my days out in the combine, from early morning to late in the evening."
Farmers Union member and South Dakota State University student Jaclynn Knutson, Centerville, was one of three college students to receive the National Farmers Union Foundation Stanley Moore Scholarship award.
"I congratulate our three scholarship recipients for their dedication to their education, and thank them for their commitment to the Farmers Union organization," says National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. "We had an exceptional pool of candidates apply for the scholarship programs this year, and I am proud to see the enthusiasm for Farmers Union from the next generation of leaders in American agriculture."
Members are encouraged to attend the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron at the Crossroads Hotel Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Experts will be discussing E30 and rural healthcare during the two-day convention where SDFU members will vote on policy that will be the focus of the 2018 legislative session in Pierre.
"When it comes to policy that impacts family farmers and ranchers, there are many changes coming down the pike - in our state and nation. It's our hope that when members leave this convention they have a better understanding of the issues and what we can do to advocate for policy we need," says Doug Sombke, SDFU President.
Along with policy development, industry experts will discuss pressing issues of healthcare, crop insurance and the future of E30.
Alana Knudson, Public Health Program Area Director at the University of Chicago NORC, will update members on healthcare and its impact on farming and ranching families
By Lura Roti, for S.D. Farmers Union
Pulling back a thick layer of crop residue with his bare hands, Mike Beer digs into the earth and holds up a black clump of soil alive with earthworms.
"This is heavy clay and when I first started farming, it was hard as a rock. Now, look at it - it's like a vegetable garden," says the Keldron rancher. "I'm a soil person. Even as a kid I was always playing in the dirt, digging holes. I was curious."
He goes on to explain that even as a young teen, he would go out onto the range and dig deep holes.
"Everyone has something and for me, it is soil," Mike explains. "I remember seeing the different horizons and understanding that they were different soil types - long before I ever read that in a textbook."
What began as a childhood hobby became a useful talent in college when he judged on South Dakota State University's nationally ranked soil judging team.
His interest in enhancing soil health led him to work in the university's soil lab and complete a 1991 senior research project on no-till farming practices - at the time, a foreign concept in northwest South Dakota.
Today, the soil management practices Mike has implemented for nearly three decades are key to his family's livelihood on their farm and ranch where Mike and his wife, Danni, raise cattle and a wide range of crops including registered spring wheat, winter wheat, corn, sunflowers, millet, soybeans, chickpeas, hay and cover crops.
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