News > General

30-For-30 Celebrates Home-Grown, Renewable Fuel

 – By

South Dakota Farmers will be hosting a 30-For-30 event at the Shell Station in Mitchell (2160 Highland Way) July 14, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  to celebrate the benefits of fueling up with Premium E30.

During the 30-For-30 event, drivers receive .30 cents for every gallon of Premium E30 purchased.

Read More

Last Modified:


Second Tuesdays Tune In To South Dakota Farmers Union Radio Show

 – By

Since 1915, South Dakota Farmers Union provides a voice to the states family farmers and ranchers. The century-old, grassroots organization continues its legacy with a radio show hosted on second Tuesdays during KELO Radio's It's YOUR AgriBusiness Hour (10-11 a.m. CST).

 "We're excited about this opportunity to connect with our consumers," said Doug Sombke SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde farmer. "Consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from. As the numbers of family farmers and ranchers in our state continues to decline, the need to share our story increases."

Read More

Last Modified:


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

 – By

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.

Read More

Last Modified:


South Dakota Farmers Union Links Farm & Ranch Families to Farm Safety Videos this Summer

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union, in conjunction with National Farmers Union is working to raise awareness about farm and ranch safety issues and best practices through a series of 10 educational videos.

 "Farming and ranching is a family business - which means parents and their children are often working together during the summer months. It's great way to promote a healthy work ethic, but we cannot forget that this work can also be dangerous - no matter how old you are," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and fourth-generation Conde farmer.

 Sombke currently farms with his sons. He encourages farm and ranch families to take time to watch these videos to increase safety awareness. "We live and work on our farms and ranches, so it's good to have a reminder of the dangers so we can keep ourselves and the ones we love safe," Sombke said.

Read More

Last Modified:


Reminder South Dakota Farmers Union Golf Tournament is June 21 in Mitchell

 – By

Farmers Union will host the 2016 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament June 21, 2016, at the Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell (3300 N Ohlman St., Mitchell). 

 The tournament will be a four-person, 18-hole scramble. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (CDT); shotgun start is at 9 a.m.

 All event proceeds benefit Farmers Union Education Camp Programs, Leadership Development Programs, Young Producers Group and Youth Farm Safety Awareness.

 To register a team and or to become a hole sponsor, contact Kecia Beranek, SDFU Communications Specialist at the South Dakota Farmers Union office at 605-352-6761, ext. 113 or kberanek@sdfu.org

Learn more about the Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament click here. 


Read More

Last Modified:


South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Symens Farm Family

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state's number one industry and help feed the world.

 By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union

 This month, we're highlighting the Symens family who raise crops, purebred Limousin cattle and a feedlot near Amherst.

 "It's a garden spot ... if we get rain," says Paul Symens, 72, when describing the land his grandpa, Harm Symens, purchased in 1910 near Amherst.

 For more than a century, the Symens family has cared for and farmed the land, which today supports a diverse farming operation that includes cropground, purebred Limousin cattle and a feedlot managed by Paul, his two brothers, Irwin, 80, and John, 69, Irwin's son, Brad, 46, and Paul's son, Warren, 38.

 Since the beginning, rain - the lack of or over-abundance of - has played a significant role in the management decisions made by the Symens family.

 For Harm and his son, Wilbert, the Dust Bowl days made soil conservation and erosion control a focus of their field management.

 Irwin recalls a 1936 story of his dad planting corn in May which didn't sprout until September when it received its FIRST rain ... only to be killed by frost at 6-inches. "That same year dad mowed 160 acres of ground and all that grew was thistles. He stacked the thistles, mixed them with molasses and that's what he fed the cattle. That was the year I was born," says Irwin, who is the second oldest of nine children raised on the farm by Wilbert and his wife, Inga.

 Implementing novel conservation techniques, like tree belts and strip tilling, earned the family some fame when in 1936 Harm was featured in Cappers Farmer magazine under the headline, "Uncommon Effort Won Over Drought."

 Today, the Symens continue the legacy of conservation, managing their fields with minimal-till techniques to increase water infiltration and leaving half of all corn stubble in the field to build organic matter. The stubble removed from fields is used as bedding for cattle. It is then reapplied once it's been utilized as bedding. "At this point it's partially decomposed and has added nutrients of the manure," Warren explains.

 To read more click here.

Read More

Last Modified:


On a Mission for Cooperation: It's Camp Season 2016

 – By

Growing up on a farm south of Gregory, Dowain Kerner didn't give his dad, Dean's, career much thought. That is, until he began attending Farmers Union Camp as a kid.

 "I was born on a farm; it's what my dad does for a living. But when I was little, I wasn't into farming at all. Attending camp really gave me an interest in farming," says Kerner, 18, who has been attending Farmers Union Camp since he was 8.

 Positive peer pressure is how Kerner explains his change of heart. "I really connected with the kids and leaders at Farmers Union Camp. They were excited about farming, ranching and cooperatives - this sparked an interest in me."

Read More

Last Modified:


NFU Statement on Proposed RFS Volume Targets

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, does not support the May 18, 2016 announcement made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which proposes a 5 billion gallon cut to its 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard renewable volume obligations.

 "By setting the 2017 renewable volume obligation at 18.8 billion gallons, the EPA falls below the statutory volume levels set by Congress," Sombke explained. "There is a strong connection between reliable implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard and achievement of the Administration's climate goals."

 A fourth-generation family farmer, Sombke understands the positive impact renewable fuels has had on South Dakota's economy. "The ethanol industry has created jobs throughout our state's rural communities and provides another, local market for corn," Sombke said. "Not only that, but ethanol blends provide cleaner air than just gasoline alone."

Read More

Last Modified:


S.D. Farmers Union Supports Sen. Grassley's Reintroduction of Legislation Banning Packer Ownership of Livestock

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke joins with National Farmers Union (NFU) organization in commending U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for reintroducing legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock.

 "Sen. Grassley has always been recognized by Farmers Union for his continued support of family farmers and ranchers," said Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde crop and livestock farmer. "This is an issue which directly impacts South Dakota farmers and ranchers who raise livestock."

 Sombke explains that because there are so few packers today, packer ownership of livestock can manipulate the livestock markets, reducing demand and driving prices down. He adds that this is not a new issue. In fact, packer ownership of livestock is the issue which motivated Sombke to become more involved in the grassroots organization 30-plus years ago.

Read More

Last Modified:


Fun and Raising Funds

 – By

Fun and raising funds for the next generation of agricultural leaders is the focus of the 2016 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament which will be held June 21, 2016, at the Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell (3300 N Ohlman St., Mitchell).

  The tournament will be a four-person, 18-hole scramble. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (CDT); shotgun start is at 9 a.m.

 All event proceeds benefit Farmers Union Education Camp Programs, Leadership Development Programs, Young Producers Group and Youth Farm Safety Awareness.

Read More

Last Modified:


South Dakota Farmers Union Welcomes New Education Director

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union recently hired Rachel Haigh-Blume to serve as Education Director.

 "We are excited about Rachel's background and professional experience, as well as her enthusiasm for youth and agriculture," said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.

 Haigh-Blume will be responsible for educational programming, which serves more than 3,000 South Dakotans each year.

 Since it was established to serve family farmers and ranchers more than a century ago, education has been a focus of South Dakota Farmers Union. "SDFU Educational programming is developed to enrich the lives of rural South Dakotans; whether it's through county, district or state camps held throughout the summer which teach rural youth about farm safety, cooperative education and leadership development or Rural Economic & Leadership Program (REAL) and Young Producer Events which provide leadership and professional development to agriculture producers and rural professionals," explains Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of SDFU.

Read More

Last Modified:


SDFU Foundation Now Taking Nominations for 2016 Rural Dakota Pride Awards

 – By

Since 1938, the community of Groton has hosted the Carnival of Silver Skates. The on-ice themed musical performance featuring school-age children from the community is the longest running outdoor skating show in South Dakota. 

 For several years now, Steve and Carol Smith have been actively involved on the event's planning committee and a few years back, when the city's skating rink was moved from the center of town to the edge of town, they worked with other community members to organize fundraising events which raised more than $60,000 in one year for a new warming house.

 "This event is very important to our community," Carol explains. "We knew if the show was going to continue, we needed a new warming house."

Read More

Last Modified:


S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates Three Generations of Farm Moms This Mother's Day

 – By

As we reflect on the women who raised us this Mother's Day, S.D. Farmers Union would like to celebrate the many women who support the state's number one industry - Farm and Ranch Moms!

 Read on to learn the story of three mothers.

 Each of these Farmers Union members represent a different generation of women born and raised on South Dakota farms and ranches, who married a farmer or rancher.

 These women share their story and reflect on raising children on their South Dakota farm or ranch.

Read More

Last Modified:


S.D. Farmers Union President Doug Sombke Agreed to Exclusive TV Interview with KELO TV

 – By

Today, during the 6 o'clock news, Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President was interviewed by KELO TV following the 7 to 46 vote by Dist. 7 members which shut down a resolution asking for his resignation.

 Sombke stands by the election results decided by the members during the Centennial Convention held Dec. 9-10, 2015 in Huron.

 "I am proud of the work that I've done with Farmers Union. I am proud of where we have come since I have been the president of this organization and we will continue to do better," said Sombke, a fourth generation Conde farmer.

Read More

Last Modified:


South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance Welcomes New Regional Manager

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance welcomes Jason Wells to serve as the new Regional Manager.

 "Jason brings extensive leadership and career experience to this role," said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "We are confident he will administer exceptional guidance and support to our team of South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance agents who help provide risk protection to many families throughout South Dakota.

 Growing up in rural North Dakota, Wells began his career with Farmers Union Insurance of North Dakota right out of college. "My entire career has been 100 percent Farmers Union Insurance. Over the years, I have worked in every aspect of insurance," said Wells, who started out in operations and eventually became vice president of underwriting and marketing for Farmers Union Insurance of Montana.

 Wells is excited for the opportunity to lead South Dakota Farmers Union Insurance and cannot wait to get started.  He is also happy to bring his wife, Becci, and son, Carter, back to the Midwest and closer to family.

Read More

Last Modified:


Farmers Union Quiz Bowl Encourages Youth to Think about Farm & Ranch Safety

 – By

Four FFA Chapters placed in the Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl held in conjunction with the 2016 South Dakota State FFA Convention in Brookings and will be advancing to the state competition held during the 2016 South Dakota State Fair.

The qualifying teams are, in order of highest score: the Viborg/Hurley FFA Chapter, team members include; Logan Slack, Alison Knutson, Abby Hora and Annie Wirth: the McCook Central FFA Chapter, team members include; Melissa Lauck, Leslie Kolbeck, Kohl Miller, and Jordan Scheier: Sunshine Bible FFA Chapter, team members include; Christopher Hass, Evan Lopez, Shelby Belmore and Titus Deal: and the Lyman FFA Chapter, team members include Korder Cropsey, Conrad MohrEymer, Eli Fanning and Grant Stewart.

 Designed as a fun way to inform teens about farm safety, South Dakota Farmers Union hosts the Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl each year during the FFA Convention.

Read More

Last Modified:


South Dakota Farmers Union Board of Directors Dispels Myths With Letter

 – By

HURON, S.D. - For more than a century, South Dakota Farmers Union has supported the state's family farmers and ranchers. The organization's board of directors continues to support it's more than 17,000 members in standing by the election results tallied during the Dec. 2015 Annual Convention and validated by an outside lawyer.

 "The board has considered these resolutions and they are committed to the greater membership of South Dakota Farmers Union," said Joel Keierleber, Dist 4 Board member, in response to a request made by 25-30 members of it's Dist. 1 and Dist. 2 to hold a second convention.

 In response to allegations of mistreating staff, SDFU cannot discuss personnel issues.

 "However, the board of directors can tell you that no current or former employee has ever made a claim to the board that they were mistreated," said Kecia Beranek, Communication Specialist for SDFU. "The board is always willing to hear from every single employee."

Below is the letter, signed by the board of directors, and released to membership April 1, 2016 to let members statewide know there will not be a second convention and the election results stand.

Read More

Last Modified:


S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Wonnenberg Family Ranch

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state's number one industry and help feed the world.

This month, we're highlighting the Wonnenberg family who ranch near Dallas.

 As its mother protectively stands guard, her newborn calf, supported precariously by its wobbly legs, looks curiously at its surroundings and then begins nursing. For four generations, this heart-warming scene has signaled spring on the Wonnenberg Ranch near Dallas.

 And, even though it's been a part of his life for as long as he can remember, Steve, 61, still enjoys calving season.

 "From the time I was really small I enjoyed working with cattle and doing chores," explains Steve, who raises a registered Black Angus herd, which his dad, William, began in the 60s.

 "For their FFA project, my older brothers decided to get into raising registered Black Angus," Steve explains. "My dad liked them so much that he kept expanding the herd after my brothers left the ranch."

 Like his father before him, the third-generation rancher still does business with a handshake. "Our family still has the old mentality where a shake of the hand still means a lot," explains Steve and Joan's daughter, Casey Wonnenberg King. "When my dad sells registered Angus bulls, he always tells buyers that if something doesn't work out, he will make it right - and he always holds true to his promise."

To read the rest of their story, click here.

Read More

Last Modified:


Meet South Dakota Farm & Ranch Families During National Ag Week

 – By

During National Ag Week, South Dakota Farmers Union and its 17,000-plus members want to introduce South Dakotans to a few of the many farm and ranch families who make up the state's number one industry by inviting the public to read their stories which can be found on the organization's website, www.sdfu.org.

 Since 2014, the organization has highlighted a different farm or ranch family each month - capturing their stories and photographing the family's agriculture operations.

Read More

Last Modified:


USDA Secretary Discusses Diversification, Conservation and Trade at NFU Convention

 – By

South Dakota Farmers Union members were in attendance as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, spoke at the National Farmers Union Convention held March 5-8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minn.

 "What an amazing opportunity for those of us who work in production agriculture and live in rural communities throughout South Dakota that are supported by agriculture to hear firsthand Vilsack's message," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

 Vilsack, who is also a Farmers Union member, celebrated U.S. agriculture's uniqueness and called on Congress to act on food labeling, and advocated for increased trade with Cuba.

Read More

Last Modified: