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South Dakota Farmers Union Recognizes Farm Safety Year-Round

September 17, 2018

HURON, S.D. - In recognition of National Farm Safety & Health Week South Dakota Farmers Union Farm Safety trailer will be making stops at area schools to provide hands-on farm safety education.

 "Agriculture remains one of the deadliest U.S. occupations, with fatality rates higher than mining and construction. This is the reason farm safety education is a strong focus of our organization," explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "The hands-on nature of this trailer will enhance this mission and allow us to provide farm safety education to youth year-round."

 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.

 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."

 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. It took more than a year to complete.

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

 Year-round the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer is on the road educating youth, to bring the trailer to your community, contact Forman at 605-350-3421 or rforman@sdfu.org.

In recognition of National Farm Safety & Health Week South Dakota Farmers Union Farm Safety trailer will be making stops at area schools to provide hands-on farm safety education. 

 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. It took more than a year to complete.

Year-round the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer is on the road educating youth, to bring the trailer to your community, contact Forman at 605-350-3421 or rforman@sdfu.org.

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. It took more than a year to complete.

Year-round the SDFU Farm Safety Trailer is on the road educating youth, to bring the trailer to your community, contact Forman at 605-350-3421 or rforman@sdfu.org.

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Last Modified: 09/17/2018 12:48:40 pm MDT


Fly-In is Good First Step South Dakota Farmer Says

September 14, 2018

As South Dakota family farmers and ranchers wrap up meetings with congressional leaders and staff today, September 14, the last day of the 2018 National Farmers Union Fly-In, Wessington farmer, Chris Johnsen says these conversations are a good first step.

 "But a lot more needs to be done. We need to keep constant pressure on those leading our country so they understand how bad the situation is, and know that things need to change," explains Johnsen, after a day of meeting with congressional staff from South Dakota as well as other states.

 Aberdeen farmer, Kirk Schaunaman agrees. "The agriculture economy has lost 50 percent of our income over the last five years. All commodities are suffering from these depressed markets. We need support for rural America, production agriculture and all farmers."

 Like many of the more than 30 South Dakota agriculture producers and supporters who traveled to DC for the Farmers Union Fly-In, Schaunaman raises soybeans. And, like all soybean growers, he is concerned over the dramatic drop in prices due to the current trade war with China.

 South Dakota is home to more than 11,000 soybean growers. In the current market, many are losing more than $2 on every bushel of soybeans they raise this year.

 Each year, nearly 70 percent of the 255 million bushels of soybeans harvested in South Dakota are exported. As of January 2018, China was the largest importer of South Dakota soybeans.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2018 10:47:43 am MDT


South Dakota Farmers Meet with Surface Transportation Board to Discuss Rail Issues

September 13, 2018

HURON, S.D. - Maintaining strong communication between the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and farmers was the purpose of a meeting between STB board and South Dakota farmers held in D.C. September 12.

 "This is the beginning of what we see as a series of conversations with STB members to ensure that history does not repeat itself," said Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union and a fourth generation Conde farmer.

 Sombke references issues South Dakota, and other Upper Midwest, farmers faced shipping grain in 2012 and 2013.

 "We wanted to make sure that new STB members understand the challenges we faced in the past - which we were able to overcome by working together. It is our goal, that once trade opens up again, we are able to ship our commodities," Sombke explained.

 And today, there are additional concerns, said Aberdeen farmer, Jeff Kippley. "This trade war was not the farmers choice, it was the government's choice. The concern is, if and when trade opens again with China, will there be rail cars available to ship our grain? As with any good company, those rail cars aren't sitting idle. They are hauling oil and other goods," Kippley said. "We don't want them to forget about us."

 With plans to meet periodically with the STB moving forward, Sombke and Kippley said they feel optimistic about the future.

 "We were able to share the policy of Farmers Union as it pertains to rail. STB said they were appreciative of the information shared and encouraged us to maintain this open communication between our farmers and the STB," Sombke said.

 This meeting was one of many South Dakota family farmers and ranchers participated in during the 2018 National Farmers Union Fly-In, held this week in D.C.


MEDIA NOTE:

If you'd like to visit with a farmer or rancher from your coverage area during the Fly-In, contact Karla Hofhenke via text: 605-350-5976 or e-mail:Karla@SDFU.org.

 

Please remember to include your best call back number.

Maintaining strong communication between the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and farmers was the purpose of a meeting between STB board and South Dakota farmers held in D.C. September 12.

"We wanted to make sure that new STB members understand the challenges we faced in the past - which we were able to overcome by working together. It is our goal, that once trade opens up again, we are able to ship our commodities," explained Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and fourth generation Conde farmer.

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Last Modified: 09/13/2018 10:46:28 am MDT


Patriots, Raise Your Voices & Fight for American Agriculture

September 12, 2018

North Dakota Senator, Heidi Heitkamp called upon family farmers and ranchers to demand action beyond the market trade adjustment, when it comes to resolving the trade war.

"I want all patriots to raise your voices and fight for American agriculture. Stand up. Enough is enough. We have been patient long enough and demand resolution. We demand action, action beyond what we have been given," said Heitkamp discussing the current trade war and its devastating impact on soybean farmers throughout the nation. "Patience is running thin with every combine that loads another load of soybeans that have no place to go."

Heitkamp made these remarks during a meeting with more than 350 farmers and ranchers during a rally with Farmers Union members participating in the national organizations' D.C. Fly-In. "You took those pennies (checkoff dollars) and invested them in trade promotion and, an amazing thing happened, after three decades we got into the Chinese markets with our soybeans. Then, in one year the market collapses."

Her message resonated with Chris Johnsen, a soybean farmer from the Wessington area. In fact, depressed markets brought Johnsen to DC, along with more than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters.

"I have friends and neighbors who are having a hard time making ends meet. It's important that we get the message out that if prices stay where they are, we can't make it. Farmers cannot do this year-in and year-out," explains Johnsen, who also speaks with the future in mind, as his son, Ryland also farms with him.

Providing a platform for South Dakota family farmers and ranchers, like Johnsen, to have their voice heard is an important focus of South Dakota Farmers Union, said SDFU President, Doug Sombke.

"Our organization unites farmers and ranchers, so that our message has the power of numbers behind it. This is true, in good times and bad. Today, times are tough. The timing of this trade war makes what were bad commodity markets, worse. This week, by sharing our story of its impact on us with those in power, we hope will make a difference," said Sombke, a fourth generation Conde farmer.

North Dakota Senator, Heidi Heitkamp called upon family farmers and ranchers to demand action beyond the market trade adjustment, when it comes to resolving the trade war. Her message resonated with many, including the more than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters who are in D.C. this week for the National Farmers Union Fly-In.

Ronalee and Chris Johnsen farm near Wessington, S.D. They are among the more than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters who are in D.C. this week for the National Farmers Union Fly-In.

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Last Modified: 09/12/2018 1:56:52 pm MDT


South Dakota Farmers & Ranchers in DC to Share Their Story & Challenge Congressional Leaders to Support American Agriculture

September 12, 2018

More than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. this week (September 12-14) to meet with Congressional leadership to share their stories and how the current market economy is challenging the work they do to feed and fuel families across this nation and the world. These South Dakota Farmers Union members are among the more than 250 members from across the nation who met in D.C. for the 2018 National Farmers Union annual Fly-In.

"It's exciting to be in D.C. to visit with Congressional leaders while everyone is chewing over the farm bill and, during a time that whenever I turn on the news, no matter which channel, they are actually talking about soybeans," explains third generation De Smet farmer, Rob Lee, 32, who raises soybeans, corn with his dad and brother.

During the first day of this two-day Fly-In, Lee and the group met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue as well as other Department of Agriculture officials to discuss the status of the farm bill, the impact the trade war has had on farmers and ranchers and other issues impacting South Dakota's agriculture producers.

"What an exceptional opportunity for Secretary Perdue and Congressional leaders to hear from those of us most impacted by this trade war and hear our personal stories. We hope this interaction with those of us who actually plant the corn, feed the cattle and harvest the soybeans will help him understand why we need a farm bill sooner than later," said Doug Sombke, Conde farmer and SDFU President.

For the remainder of their time in D.C., the group will continue to share their personal stories, meeting one-on-one with Congressional leadership and staff.

Along with Sombke and Lee, the other South Dakotans who are attending the NFU Fly-In include:

Wayne Soren, Lake Preston farmer and SDFU Vice President; Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director, Huron; Larry Birgen, Beresford farmer; Kirk Schaunaman, Aberdeen farmer; Terry and Eileen Sestak, Tabor farmers and Terry serves as an SDFU board member; Oren and Tracy Lesmeister, Parade ranchers; Brett and Jessica Kenzy, Iona farmers and their children, Sierra Rencountre, and Sapphire Kenzy; David Sigdestad, Pierpont farmer; David and Brenda Reis, Oacoma farmers; Rocky Forman, SDFU Member Services Coordinator, Huron; Chris and Ronalee Johnsen, Wessington farmers; Craig Blindert, Salem farmer and Farmers Union Insurance Agent; Luke Blindert, Salem farmer and Farmers Union Insurance Agent; Jeff and Rachel Kippley Aberdeen farmers; Mitch Richter, SDFU lobbist, Rapid City; and Nathan and Samantha Miller, Houghton farmers.

A group of South Dakota high school and college youth, who serve on Farmers Union National Youth Advisory Council, also traveled with the group to DC. They include: Jim Brockel, Shade Hill; Caleb Nugteren, Canistota and Justin Goetz, Selby

Three South Dakota youth who serve on the National Farmers Union (NFU) National Youth
Advisory Council were among more than 250 family farmers and ranchers addressed today by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue during the NFU D.C. Fly-In. They are pictured here with their council members and the Secretary: (left to right) Camryn Billen, Wisconsin; Jim Brockel, South Dakota; Riley Labahn, North Dakota;Caleb Nugteren, South Dakota; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, Justin Goetz, South Dakota and Jade Person, Minnesota

Third-generation De Smet farmer, Rob Lee is among more than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. this week (September 12-14) to meet with Congressional leadership to share their stories and how the current market economy is challenging the work they do to feed and fuel families across this nation and the world. These South Dakota Farmers Union members are among the more than 250 members from across the nation who met in D.C. for the 2018 National Farmers Union annual Fly-In.

"It's exciting to be in D.C. to visit with Congressional leaders while everyone is chewing over the farm bill and, during a time that whenever I turn on the news, no matter which channel, they are actually talking about soybeans," explains third generation De Smet farmer, Rob Lee, 32, who raises soybeans, corn with his dad and brother. 

Lee is pictured here during soybean harvest 2016 with his son, Everett.

During the first day of this two-day Fly-In, Lee and the group met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue as well as other Department of Agriculture officials to discuss the status of the farm bill, the impact the trade war has had on farmers and ranchers and other issues impacting South Dakota's agriculture producers.

More than 30 South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and their supporters heard comments today from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue during the 2018 National Farmers Union annual Fly-In held in D.C. September 12-14. 

During the Fly-In, South Dakotans will meet with Congressional leadership to share their stories and how the current market economy is challenging the work they do to feed and fuel families across this nation and the world. 

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Last Modified: 09/13/2018 9:49:36 am MDT


2018 Rural Dakota Pride Honorees Recognized Today During South Dakota State Fair

September 4, 2018

Each year, during the State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognizes individuals for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. 

 Today, individuals from rural communities across South Dakota were recognized. The honorees are pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President. Honorees include (left to right): Joe Schnell, Lake Preston; Diana Runge, Wessington; Tim Holzer, Arlington; Amy Hofer, Doland; Roger Deiter, Faulkton and Marie and John Condon, Millboro.

Each year, during the State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognizes individuals for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award.  Today, individuals from rural communities across South Dakota were recognized. The honorees include: Joe Schnell, Lake Preston; Diana Runge, Wessington; Tim Holzer, Arlington; Amy Hofer, Doland; Roger Deiter, Faulkton and Marie and John Condon, Millboro.

 As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Farmers Union understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota's number one industry and their rural communities.

 "One cannot survive without the other," says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of S.D. Farmers Union. "Without thriving communities, it's difficult to encourage young people to return to their family's farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota's agriculture industry, which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive." 

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Last Modified: 09/04/2018 12:13:22 pm MDT


Farmers Share Lunch Educates More than 1,000 Consumers

September 4, 2018

Many South Dakota family farmers and ranchers will not earn an income this harvest. In fact, once they pay for seed, fuel, feed and other inputs, when they sell what they've raised, some will actually lose money this year.

 To educate consumers on the current low prices, on Sept. 1, SD Farmers Union served 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 only collected 25 cents from each of the more than 1,000 fed.

 "There is a big disconnect between the prices we see when we walk into the grocery store and what the farmer gets paid. We don't know what farmers earn because most people don't work on the farm anymore," said Dave Boos, a fairgoer who works as Director of Technology for Mitchell Technical Institute.

 This is the organization's largest educational events, says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. She explains that during the State Fair, along with the Farmers Share Lunch educating consumers on what the farmer actually earns from the food they produce, S.D. Farmers Union also hosted a Farm Bill panel discussion to help educate South Dakota farmers and ranchers on the upcoming farm bill and a TeamUp for Safety Quiz Bowl to help educate youth about farm safety.

 "Education is a large part of what we do as an organization. It's a focus of our mission," Hofhenke says.

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Last Modified: 09/04/2018 11:59:12 am MDT


Farm Bill, Trade & South Dakota Ag Economy Focus of State Fair Panel Discussion

September 4, 2018

The 2018 farm bill was the focus of South Dakota Farmers Union Panel discussion held September 1, 2018 during Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair.

"South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers face tough economic times due to a trade war creating unstable markets - during a time when prices for our commodities were already low. This farm bill could offer some stability. We hope it is passed soon," says Doug Sombke, President of SD Farmers Union. "This is the reason we selected the farm bill as the focus of our annual State Fair panel discussion."

 Joining Sombke on the Freedom Stage were Paul Shubeck, State Director of the Farm Service Agency and Lynn Tjeerdsma, Senior Policy Advisor for South Dakota Sen. John Thune.

 "Agriculture is in a critical spot where a new farm bill is crucial," says Tjeerdsma, referring to current low commodity prices and trade war negatively impacting farmers this harvest. "This is the sixth farm bill I have worked on and the only one written during economic times like now."

 Sombke said this topic is not only timely, but the State Fair, surrounded by farm and ranch families, is a good place to hold a discussion of this importance. "This is an event, right before harvest, when many farm and ranch families take a few days to meet up, watch the next generation compete in 4-H and FFA competitions. We hope all who work in agriculture, who attended today's panel discussion, have a better understanding of what the next farm bill is and how it will impact them."

 Curt Hillestad, who farms near Claire City, says Sombke's goal was met. "You hear a lot of rumors, so I knew that this would help me understand what they are really thinking," explains the fourth-generation farmer. "I was also wondering about who is eligible for payments, and now I have my answer."

 SD Farmers Union will continue the conversation about the farm bill, trade war and the current challenges South Dakota's farmers and ranchers face when they travel to DC with more than 30 farmers and ranchers to meet with Congressional leaders Sept. 12-14 for the National Farmers Union Fly-In.

The 2018 farm bill was the focus of South Dakota Farmers Union Panel discussion held September 1, 2018 during Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair. Panelists include (left to right): 

Paul Shubeck, State Director of the Farm Service Agency; Lynn Tjeerdsma, Senior Policy Advisor for South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Doug Sombke, SD Farmers Union President.

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Last Modified: 09/04/2018 11:56:42 am MDT


Hoven FFA Chapter Named Quiz Bowl Champions During Team Up For Safety State Fair Competition

September 4, 2018

Hoven FFA Chapter won today's S.D. Farmers Union Team Up For Safety Quiz Bowl held during the South Dakota State Fair in Huron.

 Team members include: Brady Keller, Chayce Rausch and Peter Rausch.

 The team was recognized with a cash prize.

 Other teams who qualified to compete today include the following FFA Chapters: Parker FFA Chapter, members include: Jackson Fiegen, Camden Bialas, Nick Haraldsen and Geoff Dunkelberger; Tri-Valley FFA Chapter, members include: Josh Hotchkiss, Jen Hotchkiss, Rhegan Oberg and Westen VanDerVliet and Wessington Springs FFA Chapter, members include: Isaac Kolousek, Cooper Hainy and Noah Hainy.

 The Team Up For Safety competition is run in a game-show format and held each year as a fun reminder to teens to keep safety top of mind. The four teams qualified for the championship during the State FFA Convention held this spring, where more than 20 teams competed.

 "For most of us in South Dakota, we like to think we're pretty in tune with what's going on around us," says Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. "But life moves pretty fast and it's easy to take little things for granted. It could be something as simple as just taking the time to read labels on chemicals or applications and making sure you don't harm yourself or your livestock."

 Hoven FFA member, Peter Rausch agrees.

 "I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend in a grain bin accident. He would have been a senior this year," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."

 

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Last Modified: 09/04/2018 11:54:08 am MDT


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

August 30, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/30/2018 7:55:09 am MDT


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

August 28, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/28/2018 1:58:45 pm MDT


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

August 21, 2018

Applications for the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Graduate School Scholarship are now available at www.sdfufoundation.org.

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 khofhenke@sdfu.org 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 www.sdfufoundation.org.

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Last Modified: 08/21/2018 8:38:10 am MDT


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

August 21, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/21/2018 8:21:47 am MDT


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

August 20, 2018

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 achievable...as 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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Last Modified: 08/20/2018 2:45:38 pm MDT


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

August 13, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/13/2018 7:27:23 am MDT


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

August 8, 2018

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 rforman@sdfu.org.


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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Last Modified: 08/08/2018 7:16:16 am MDT


Three South Dakota Teens Elected to National Farmers Union Youth Council

August 1, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/01/2018 2:58:36 pm MDT


South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Hotchkiss Farm Family of Colton

August 1, 2018

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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Last Modified: 08/01/2018 2:54:12 pm MDT


SD Farmers Union Members Call for Strong Leadership & Action During July 25 Policy Meeting

July 26, 2018

Concerns over the survival of South Dakota's family farms and ranches motivated many members of South Dakota Farmers Union to meet in Huron July 25, 2018 and establish policy calling for Congressional leadership to act on behalf of our state's number one industry.

 "We request our delegation to support our states farmers and ranchers, to end the trade tariffs, get a Farm Bill passed immediately, and finish the NAFTA trade agreement.

Our producers cannot afford lower prices along with higher input costs, they will be forced by lenders to leave the occupation they love.

We believe this should be one of the top priorities for the remainder of this year. As our state's number one industry, immediate action is paramount for the survival of agriculture in South Dakota and national security. We are in desperate need of leadership from you," reads a portion of the Call to Action introduced by Pierpont farmers, Franklin Olson and David Sigdestad and passed unanimously by SDFU members.

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Last Modified: 07/26/2018 10:49:25 am MDT


SD Farmers Union Joins NFU in Urging Administration to Do More

July 24, 2018

HURON, S.D. - In response to the Trump Administration's announcement of a $12 billion plan to provide emergency aid to farmers amidst an escalating trade war with China and other trading partners, Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President urges the Administration to do more to help family farmers and ranchers.

 "How will this help the South Dakota farmers who need emergency funds the most," asked Sombke, a fourth-generation farmer from Conde who was among a group of agriculture leaders and media invited to a phone conference with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue as he discussed the plan that will include direct assistance, a food purchase and distribution program, and a trade promotion program.

 "This plan sounds just like a re-run of the same plan that was put in place during the Farm Crisis and wheat embargo of the 1970s. That plan failed. This plan is evidence that the administration had no clue of the devastating impact this trade war is having on America's heartland - it is costing our family farmers money to raise crops this year," Sombke said.

 He explained that farmers will not have access to the $12 billion in relief until January 2019 - after their production year is complete.

 Sombke and SDFU join with National Farmers Union (NFU), the nation's second largest general farm organization, in this request to do more to provide a long-term fix to the long-term damage of the trade war.

 The group supports the president's efforts to improve fair trade relationships with trading partners yet has grown weary of the administration's go-it-alone, bull-in-a-china-shop approach.

 Sombke will meet with Senator John Thune this afternoon to discuss SDFU thoughts on the announcement.

 Below is a statement from NFU President Roger Johnson issued in response to the announcement:

 "President Trump's escalating trade war with China and much of the rest of the world requires that we go to significant lengths to protect the men and women who grow our food, fuel and fiber. Their livelihoods are on the line with every tweet, threat or tariff action that comes from the White House. Market prices for farm products are plunging from already very low levels, and it's been estimated that farmers lost more than $13 billion last month alone due to trade disruptions.

 "While we appreciate the move to provide stopgap assistance, this plan is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. The administration must develop a support mechanism that will mitigate the significant damage that is being inflicted upon our most vital international markets for years to come. They should do this by working with Congress to ensure farm bill programs provide enough assistance to farmers when markets collapse."

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Last Modified: 07/24/2018 1:49:26 pm MDT



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