Posts for December 2017

Torchbearers Youth Leaders Recognized with 2017 S.D. Farmers Union Torchbearer Award During State Convention

December 21, 2017

A group of devoted Farmer's Union campers were recognized for their commitment to community involvement and leadership development with the Torchbearer Award during an awards luncheon hosted at the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017.

 For campers, receiving the Torchbearer Award symbolizes the highest level of achievement for the South Dakota Farmers Union Education Program. This award is given once the camper has reached five years of committed service, showcasing the time and dedication campers have committed over the past years to the education department, as well as the rural communities they have served.

Continuing the tradition of S.D. Farmers Union Camp is often times a priority for youth who are eligible for the Torchbearer Award.

  "Torchbearers have taken the time and effort to follow the path many have set before them," said Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director.  "For years Farmers Union has been committed to educating youth on legislation, cooperation and leadership. Many of the Senior Youth have had family members go through the program and the goal is that they continue on, that this ceremony is the foundation to build and challenge themselves to meet the next steps in Farmers Union such as Young Producers group, becoming a County or District leader, and many other opportunities.."

 The 2017 Torchbearers include: Jim Brockel, Shadehill, son of Kelvin and Jean Brockel; Skylar Cox, Fredrick, daughter of Jeff Cox; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney, son of LaRon and Roxann Gerlach; Jennifer Hanson, Britton, daughter of Lorrie Hanson; Marissa Holinka, Watertown, daughter of Rick and Gwen Holinka; Brenna Johnson, Groton, daughter of Chad and Michelle Johnson; Haley Keizer, Plankinton, daughter of Lance Keizer and Miranda Keizer; Taylin Montague, New Underwood, daughter of Brad and Lawonza Montague; Joseph Nugteren, Canistota, son of Darin and Lisa Nugteren; Jackie Nuss, Tripp, son of Jarrod and Ronda Nuss; Karly Schaunaman, Aberdeen, daughter of Kirk and Kim Schaunaman; Samuel Schumacher, Mt. Vernon, son of Greg and Sherry Schumacher; Hannah Sumption, Fredrick, daughter of Eric and Stacey Sumption; Rowdy Thompson, New Underwood, son of Dana and Roxona Thompson; and  Gabriella Weidenbach, Canistota, daughter of Joel and Becky Weidenbach.

A group of devoted Farmer's Union campers were recognized for their commitment to community involvement and leadership development with the Torchbearer Award during an awards luncheon hosted at the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017. 

 Left to Right: Back Row: Skylar Cox, Frederick; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney; Brenna Johnson, Groton; Jim Brockel, Shadehill; Karly Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Jennifer Hanson, Britton. Front Row: Rachel Haigh-Blume, Samuel Schumacher, Mt. Vernon; Joseph Nugteren, Canistota; Marissa Holinka, Watertown; Hannah Sumption, Frederick; Haley Keizer, Plankinton; and Gabriella Weidenbach, Canistota. Not pictured: Jackie Nuss, Tripp; Taylin Montague, New Underwood; Rowdy Thompson, New Underwood.

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Last Modified: 12/21/2017 7:35:23 am MST

South Dakota Farmers & Ranchers will Serve as 2018 National Farmers Union Convention Delegates

December 21, 2017

During the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention, members were given the opportunity to campaign and be elected to represent South Dakota as a delegate to the 2018 National Farmers Union Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri, March 4-6, 2018.

 Delegates adopt policy and special orders of business that will guide Farmers Union government affairs priorities over the course of the next year.

 This year's delegates will be Tammy Basel, Meade County; Bill Chase, Beadle County; Lorrie Hanson, Marshall County; Jeff Kippley, Brown County; Becky Martinmaas, Faulk County and Hank Wonnenberg, Gregory County. 

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Last Modified: 12/21/2017 7:33:19 am MST

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Bisgard Farm Family

December 21, 2017

by Lura Roti for S.D. Farmers Union

 Seed cleaning has been a part of the Bisgard family farm operation since Herbert Bisgard constructed a cribbed elevator in the middle of the farmyard more than 60 years ago.

 "We cleaned everything. Anything that was brought to us - flax, millet, oats, rye - in those days it was mostly small grains," recalls his son, Peter Bisgard, 63, a third-generation Day County farmer who raises wheat, corn, soybeans and some registered seed with his sons and wife, Leah. The Bisgards also have a daughter, Stacy Anderson.

 Remember, this was before the days of traited seed when most farmers harvested their own seed to plant the following year.

 Today, Peter and his sons, Bob, 37, and Randy, 32, continue to clean seed for neighbors to supplement the farm's income. But, like most things on their family's farm, the seed cleaning business looks different than it did when Peter was a kid.

 "Of course things have changed. Back then, most grain was brought in on 4-wheel trailers or pickup trucks. Today we only see semis," Peter explains.

 Technology and the weather have impacted the overall farming operation as well. In the 1990s, water began to take over farmground.

 "We have a picture of Randy on a tractor and drill in a field where people now fish," Peter says of Bitter Lake, a non-meandered body of water, which was farm and pastureland in the 1970s but today has recorded depths of 18-feet.

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Last Modified: 12/21/2017 7:49:58 am MST

South Dakota Farmers Union to EPA: Stop Blowing Smoke and Enforce the Law

December 19, 2017

Today, South Dakota Farmer Union President Doug Sombke called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop hiding the true source and quantities of some of most harmful emissions of gasoline by updating their models and enforcing the law.

 In a letter to Christopher Grundler, Director of EPAs Office of Transportation and Air Quality, Sombke blasted the agency for its unwillingness to take the lead in reducing secondary organic aerosols that comprise the majority of urban particulates (PM2.5) and are, by EPAs own admission, directly linked to gasoline.  

 His letter was prompted by a report in the Wall Street Journal that leaf blowers emit as much as cars in terms of PM 2.5 with the supporting data in the story derived from an EPA chart titled Blowing Smoke.

 "To suggest that leaf blowers are on par with 270 million cars is absurd," said Sombke. "And that absurdity is drawn from outdated information and bad science." 

 "Whether this is an error of omission or just a refusal to take action, EPA data ignores the fact that counting primary sources that lead to particulate formation is at best half the story,"  he added, "It is the secondary aerosols from gasoline and the benzene based hydrocarbons that are used for octane which is the real problem."

 The letter called on Mr. Grundler to "come clean" and not mislead the public, media and policy makers by incorrectly claiming diesel fuel and vehicles are the problem rather than gasoline and its carcinogenic components.

 "Mr. Grundler, I think that you and your colleagues are the ones blowing your duty to protect the health and welfare of the American people, especially the most vulnerable among us - our children," Sombke said.

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Last Modified: 12/19/2017 8:20:36 am MST

Supporting the Future of Family Farms & Ranches Through Policy Development

December 13, 2017

When times are tough, family farmers and ranchers have a choice, Taylor Sumption explains. "With everyone struggling in agriculture right now, we can complain or change things."

 Creating positive change together motivated South Dakota Farmers Union members from across the state to take time away from their farms, ranches and other professions to gather in Huron Nov. 30-Dec. 1 for the organization's 2017 State Convention.

 "It's important that we work together to promote what we do," adds Sumption, who farms with his dad and brothers near Frederick.

 Promoting their family's business is the reason Dick Kolousek and his son, Scott and daughter-in-law, Amber, became actively involved in Farmers Union a few years ago.

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Last Modified: 12/13/2017 7:50:17 am MST

SDFU to Senator Rounds: Time for EPA to Do Its Duty

December 11, 2017

SDFU President Doug Sombke today urged Senator Mike Rounds, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, to ensure that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt enforces a law that has been on the books for more than 25 years, but ignored by his Agency.  Sombke was prompted to write by EPW Chairman John Barrosso's recent letterto Pruitt criticizing EPA's failure to comply with certain study requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).  

 Barrosso reminded Pruitt that "EPA cannot ignore the will of Congress and the requirements of the Clean Air Act for 17 years."

 Sombke told Rounds that "EPA's dereliction of duty goes well beyond its failures with the RFS.  It is well past time for EPA to enforce the mandatory requirements of Section 202(l) of the Clean Air Act, the so-called "clean octane" provision."

Millions of urban Americans, especially children, would benefit the most from proper enforcement of the "clean octane" provision, which Congress enacted in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments while it was banning leaded gasoline.  To prevent a repeat of the horrific lead health effects, Congress required EPA to limit "to the greatest achievable extent" the use of benzene-based additives (known as BTEX) which refiners use to increase gasoline octane ratings.  Typical gasoline contains at least 25% BTEX, and tens of billions of gallons are combusted every year.  Last week, the respected Center for Environmental Health released a report on the devastating effects BTEX emissions products can have on the fetus and infants.

 Recently, EPA scientists belatedly admitted what experts have been saying for many years:  gasoline exhaust is the predominant source of the most dangerous urban pollutants, including ultrafine particulates that carry carcinogens through the blood stream to the brain and other organs.  Some of the most potent of these are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which the Surgeon General identified years ago as the most deadly agents in tobacco smoke.  Gasoline PAHs are even more pervasive and lethal than tobacco PAHs, and there is no way for urban residents to escape them because they travel long distances, and penetrate into homes, schools, and cars.

 Automakers have told EPA that they require higher octane gasoline to power more efficient, higher compression engines.  US Department of Energy labs have singled out ethanol's superior octane properties as the preferred way to produce higher octane gasoline.  Ethanol's superior octane rating comes at a lower cost than oil-derived BTEX compounds, so consumers and the economy are also big winners.

 On October 19, 1017, Pruitt told Rounds and other Senators that his "responsibility as Administrator of the EPA is to faithfully administer the laws passed by the U.S. Congress".  Sombke strongly urged Senator Rounds to ensure that EPA ends its 25 years of obstruction, and fulfills its sworn duty to protect the public health and welfare

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Last Modified: 12/11/2017 1:37:55 pm MST

Cheryl Schaefers of Polo Will Attend NFU Women's Conference

December 7, 2017

Cheryl Schaefers, a Polo crop and livestock farmer and owner of Cheryl's Catering, was elected to serve as the South Dakota delegate to the National Farmers Union 2018 Women's Conference held in San Diego, California January 14-18, 2018.

 Women in Leadership is the theme of this year's convention. Women have been leading in agriculture for many years, and NFU hopes to build on this idea throughout the conference.

The conference will prepare attendees and their operations for their own future in many areas, including business planning, succession planning, running for local office, networking, telling their own stories, innovative marketing, and much more.

 NFU hopes to provide attendees with both a network of female producers that they can reach out to throughout the year as well as important tools that will help set their operations up for a future of success.

Cheryl Schaefers, a Polo crop and livestock farmer, and owner of Cheryl's Catering, was elected to serve as the South Dakota delegate to the National Farmers Union 2018 Women's Conference held in San Diego, California January 14-18, 2018.

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Last Modified: 12/07/2017 12:06:46 pm MST

Doug Sombke Reelected to Serve as S.D. Farmers Union President of During 102nd State Convention

December 4, 2017

Doug Sombke was reelected to serve as President of South Dakota Farmers Union during the organization's 102nd State Convention held in Huron Nov. 30-Dec.1, 2017.

 "I love this organization because it gives a voice to family farmers and ranchers," said Sombke who has served as President of the organization since 2005. "I am a farmer. Farming is all I ever wanted to do - it's my passion. I have made it my lifelong goal to work to advance the future of family farmers and ranchers any way I can. I gave up my daily involvement in my family's farm to serve this organization because I want to ensure the next generation of farm and ranch kids have the opportunity to farm and ranch."

 Sombke has served as President of South Dakota Farmers Union since 2005. He is a fourth-generation crop and livestock farmer who continues to remain involved in his family's Conde farm - although since he began serving as SDFU President, his three sons have taken over managing the day-to-day farm operations. His sons also operate value-added enterprises from the farm. He and his wife, Mel, have three grandchildren.

 In his role as President of S.D. Farmers Union, Sombke has served on the board of directors for Farmers Union Industries, an organization which is made up of several businesses - the dividends of which go to help fund Farmers Union organizations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin as well as Farmers Union Enterprise programs and National Farmers Union. In 2017, Doug was named President of this organization.

 As President of South Dakota Farmers Union, Sombke leads the state-wide organization which works to enhance South Dakota's number one industry of agriculture by developing policy to support the family farmers and ranchers who actively grow crops and raise livestock, their rural communities and protect future generations of farmers and ranchers.

 "As a father to three young farmers in their 20s, I have skin in game. Every day, our livelihoods are at risk from regulations, policies or markets," Sombke said. "As the leader of this organization, I will continue to fight each day to ensure that those in control hear the voice of South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers. I am not afraid to be the mouthpiece of our family farmer and rancher members - even when what we have to say is not popular." 

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Last Modified: 12/04/2017 10:30:54 am MST

Lake Preston Farmer Reelected to serve as Vice President of South Dakota Farmers Union

December 4, 2017

Wayne Soren was reelected to serve as Vice President of South Dakota Farmers Union during the organization's 102nd State Convention held in Huron Nov. 30-Dec.1, 2017. Soren has served in this position since 2010.

 "Throughout the years I have been actively involved in Farmers Union, I am constantly impressed with the grassroots' changes we are able to make in our state to improve the lives and livelihoods of South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers," said Soren, a third-generation farmer who raises corn, soybeans, wheat and operates a cow/calf herd near Lake Preston. "I have seen the power, sharing our story, has on impacting positive change for family farmers and ranchers."

 Soren became involved in Farmers Union nearly three decades ago when former SDFU President, Dallas Tonsager invited him to a meeting where the National Farmers Union president spoke. A few months later, Tonsager invited Soren to another meeting where he got to hear another National Farmers Union President speak.

 Impressed by the leadership of Farmers Union, Soren decided this was an organization he needed to join.

 Jumping in with both feet, Soren began carving out time in his busy farm and fathering schedule for County meetings, Pierre Legislative Days and D.C. Fly-Ins (Soren's wife, Vicki, works fulltime off the farm, so when their boys, Jason and  Ryan were growing up, the boys spent time with Soren helping him on the farm in lieu of daycare).

 It wasn't long before his active membership became active leadership. First as a County Counselor officer, then as District  3 President and in 2010, Soren was elected to serve as the South Dakota Farmers Union Vice President. 

 "In my leadership role, I have shared this message with our members because waiting for positive change can get frustrating. However, we must never give up. I also believe that positive change  requires some give and take. To be an effective leader I believe it is important to figure out how to strike a balance with political leaders to reach a positive outcome," Soren said.

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Last Modified: 12/04/2017 10:29:52 am MST

South Dakota Family Farmers & Ranchers Discuss Rural Healthcare, E30 and Policy Development During 2017 S.D. Farmers Union Convention

December 4, 2017

South Dakota Farmers Union 2017 State Convention brought many family farmers and ranchers to Huron today to develop policy, discuss rural healthcare and many other issues impacting those who help feed and fuel our state, nation and world.

 "This is a grassroots organization who has been serving South Dakota's family farmers, ranchers and their communities for more than a century. Perhaps policy development is the most important item accomplished here," says Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

 Sombke adds that the annual state convention provides a great opportunity to bring in experts to discuss topics impacting South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

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Last Modified: 12/04/2017 10:27:45 am MST

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