Sunshine Bible Academy 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: Evan Lopez, Shelby Belmore, Andrew Hoffman and Christopher Hass.
The team was recognized with a cash prize.
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.
"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."
Along with Sunshine Bible Academy other FFA Chapters to compete included; Tri-Valley, Wolsey/Wessington and Viborg/Hurley. These teams qualified for the quiz bowl during the 2017 State FFA Convention held in Brookings this April.
"You have to have fun with it and you have to learn something," says Tri-Valley FFA member, Levi Burggraff who farms and ranches with his family near Colton and competed on the qualifying team this April. "You need to know what you're doing on a farm, because it's dangerous. You can't be horsing around cattle or machinery. I want to keep things calm...and keep all my limbs."
Today, South Dakota Farmers Union together with National Farmers Union and other state organizations, unveiled an initiative to advance federal policies that support U.S. renewable energy sources.
The initiative will promote legislative and regulatory solutions to expand markets for higher blends of ethanol, like E30, and advanced biofuels.
"While the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has been good for agriculture and rural America, it's time to put the RFS in the rear view mirror and go further for the future. Stopping at E15 does not improves the price South Dakota's farmers' receive at harvest for the corn they raise," says Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union. "Agriculture is our states number, one economic driver. When we have an opportunity to boost markets that support our number one industry, we need to take it. That's what this initiative does."
Sombke said the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) interpretation of the Clean Air Act has restricted the sale of mid-level high-octane fuel.
"National energy labs have demonstrated that high-octane blends do not impair performance in non-flex fuel or standard vehicles and that use of E30 would reduce harmful emissions more effectively than E10," Sombke explains.
Anne Steckel, a veteran energy, environment and agriculture policy specialist will be leading National Farmers Union's efforts in Washington, D.C.
"Federal-level policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have reaped tremendous gains for the farming and rural communities that grow and produce renewable, bio-based fuels," said Steckel. "NFU will continue its avid support of the RFS and pursue innovative policy solutions that expand renewable energy demand, development and infrastructure."
WASHINGTON - The transition to a homegrown, renewable energy future for America is underway. Biofuels, higher blends of ethanol in gasoline, and advanced, bio-based technologies are reaping tremendous benefits for our environment and providing much-needed economic stability to America's farming and rural communities. The U.S. must implement federal-level policies that encourage expanded markets for these energy sources and remove regulatory barriers that inhibit their growth.
To that end, National Farmers Union (NFU), in conjunction with state Farmers Union divisions, will roll out an initiative to advance federal policies that support home grown and home-produced renewable energy sources. NFU President Roger Johnson will be joined by South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke and veteran energy, environment, and agriculture policy specialist Anne Steckel, who will lead the effort.
WHO: National Farmers Union
WHAT: NFU Rollout of Ethanol and Advanced Biofuel Initiative
PARTICIPANTS: Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union
Doug Sombke, president, South Dakota Farmers Union
Anne Steckel, biofuels advisor, National Farmers Union
WHERE: 800-875-3456; verbal passcode (spoken to operator): JOHN24548
WHEN: 10:00 a.m. ET (9 a.m. Central), August 23, 2017
South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation will be awarding three $500 scholarships to young people who commit to attending a South Dakota college, university or technical school and are children of parents who are current dues-paying members of South Dakota Farmers Union.
Scholarships are available to high school seniors or freshmen currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution in South Dakota.
"South Dakota Farmers Union is all about building South Dakota's rural communities," says Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President. "We invest in rural youth from the time they are in early elementary school and old enough to attend County Day Camps."
Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director, adds, "These scholarships ensure that the young individuals focusing on rural endeavors are supported along the way. Keeping students in South Dakota is important for the legacy and sustainability of rural communities."
Deadline is Nov. 1. No late or incomplete applications will be accepted.
Applications can be found on the S.D. Farmers Union website, www.sdfu.org, at a local Farmers Union cooperative, or through a local Farmers Union Insurance agent.
If you do not apply through the online application form, all documents should be mailed to: South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship Committee, PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350-1388; and must be postmarked Nov. 1 or before.
If you have any questions, contact Haigh-Blume at Rachel@sdfu.org or 605-352-6761, ext.125.
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 Nov. 15.
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 email@example.com or call 605-352-6761 ext.114.
S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Schiley Ranch Family
By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union
It's a hot June day and Hope Schiley is on Chico, riding out past the tree belt. When her mom and dad drive out to check on their 5-year-old, she is smiling.
"Just this summer she really started to enjoy riding. It's fun to see her confidence," says Karin, a fourth-generation cattle producer, who like her husband, Roy John "R.J.," has been riding horses since childhood.
Once Hope is safely home, Karin, 38, and R.J., 39, head out over the open range to check on a group of pairs grazing in a pasture nearby.
"The best part of the ranching lifestyle is your kids are always with you," Karin says. "We do rotational grazing, so most days the kids and I will go out to check mineral and water or move the cattle from one pasture to the next."
Married in 2001, the couple has five school-age children: Macy, 13; Cash, 10; Kate, 9; Hope, 5 and Anne, 4.
A few pasture gates later, the cows come into view. Content, they barely acknowledge the pickup.
The bovines are clearly not concerned by the season-long drought which is top of mind for R.J. and Karin.
It rained last night. The couple hundredths of an inch of moisture was welcomed with optimism that more will follow.
"Water is the No. 1 thing," R.J. explains. "When I planted crops this spring the soil was bone dry. It is hard to put those dollars-per-acre in dry ground. But, you always need to be optimistic. If we catch half an inch of rain at the right time - that may be all the crops need."
"You have to have a little bit of faith," Karin adds.
Optimistic and faithful, Karin and R.J. are also realists.
The couple explained that the 2017 drought has dictated several management changes.
To read the complete article and view a photo gallery click here.
S.D. Farmers Union will be busy celebrating South Dakota's family farmers, ranchers and those who give back to their rural communities during the 2017 Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair, Sept. 2.
"The State Fair is the perfect place to celebrate the people who make up South Dakota agriculture and a great opportunity to visit with those who are not directly tied to farms and ranches," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and a fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle producer.
The Farmers Share Lunch provides one of the best opportunities for farmers, ranchers and the public to mix and mingle, said Terry Sestak, District 1 Farmers Union board member, and fourth-generation Tabor farmer.
Held in the Farmers Union Tent directly across from the Freedom Stage, the Farmers Share Luncheon, gives fairgoers an opportunity to learn just how much of the grocery store price tag South Dakota's farmers and ranchers take home after harvesting the crops or livestock they raise.
The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, have announced the recipients of the annual Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarships. Scholarship recipients will be recognized during the 2017 South Dakota Farmers Union Day at the State Fair, Sept. 2 on the Freedom Stage across from the Farmers Union Tent.
Twenty-five high school seniors from across South Dakota will share $25,000 in scholarships to be used to further their education at a South Dakota post-secondary school.
Over the past 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools.
Each of the 25 scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 to put toward their post-secondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school. 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."
The winners are as follows: Laken Olson, Britton-Hecla High School; Wyatt Ewing, Winner High School; Garrison Gross, Mitchell High School; Hannah Juracek, Gregory High School; Brooklyn Halverson, Lyman High School; Seth Overbay, Huron High School; Ellen Schlechter, Faulkton High School; Kaihlen Smith, Mitchell High School; Sopie McKee, Yankton High School; Shannon Fanning, Scotland High School; Jacey Anderberg, Yankton High School; MaKenzie Dean, Parker High School; Evan Steers, Miller High School; Timothy Paris, Rapid City Central High School; Mallory Trapp, Milbank High School; Kindra Clark, Garretson High School; Kate Katterhagen, Yankton High School; Kristan Soukup, Wagner Community School; Tori Gaer, Newell High School; Jadyn Woodward, Dupree High School; April Hoffman, Leola High School; Janae Gustafson, Ethan High School; Kaylee Braun, Ipswich High School; Drew DeMers, Winner High School and Grace Geohring, Selby Area High School.
In this day of social media and the digital world, a lot can happen in a day.
But for three days, July 6-8, 18 juniors and seniors from across South Dakota learned countless real-world things about cooperatives. The Minnesota trip rewarded their completion of three years of leadership activities through South Dakota Farmers Union.
South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director Rachel Haigh-Blume says, "It's important for them to see how cooperatives work in urban environments and get new ideas. Seeing different types of cooperatives first hand really open their minds."
One such cooperative was a housing initiative started by students at the University of Minnesota. The trip also included stops at an organic food cooperative, CHS Inc. and REI consumer cooperative, where students had the opportunity to ask questions, get professional and internship advice, and see each in action.
Justin Goetz, a 16-year-old junior from Selby, says, "I learned a lot from touring all the different types of co-ops out there. I especially loved learning more about CHS. It really opened my eyes to how much more goes into farming then just what the farmer does."
"The whole experience has helped me as a leader and how I can really help with the cooperatives in my own community," says junior Bree Weidenbach, a 17-year-old from Canistota. "I can teach others in my school and help them understand the benefits and join up."
To emphasize the importance of the trip, Haigh-Blume adds, "When farming in hard times, it's good for the kids to know there are other business models out there, like a cooperative to help keep small towns alive.as well as have a little fun."
Goetz agrees, "Going to the Twins game and getting behind the scenes was not only an amazing experience but also a learning venture too."
Youth who attended three-year cooperative education trip to Minneapolis include: back row, left to right: Megan Hanson, Britton; Karly Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Abby Dethlefsen, Stickney; Brenna Johnson, Groton; Haley Keizer, Plankinton; Jennifer Hanson, Britton; Caleb Nugteren, Canistota; Hannah Sumption, Frederick; Bree Weidenbach, Canistota; Jim Brockel, Shadehill; Nick Snedeker, Woonsocket; Skylar Cox, Frederick; Justin Goetz, Herreid; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney; and Joseph Nugteren, Canistota. Front row, left to right: Marissa Holinka, Watertown; Cassidy Keller, Cansitota; and Katherine Oberembt, Ethan.
by Christina Dexter, SDFU Communications Specialist
The 2017-2018 Junior Advisory Council were elected during Farmers Union State Leadership Camp. From left to right they include: Hannah Sumption, Frederick; Joseph Nugteren, Canistota; Marissa Holinka, Watertown; Jim Brockel, Shadehill; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney; and Haley Keizer, Plankinton.
What is an everyday hero? This was a question considered by campers during the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp as they elected a six-member Junior Advisory Council (JACs).
Before ballots were handed out, campers were asked to discuss what being an everyday hero meant to them and how they could be an everyday hero in the lives of others. During the week-long camp, campers had the opportunity to put their thoughts into action, serving as everyday heroes in the lives of dozens of hungry families by assisting Feeding America. As a team, campers helped pack hundreds of pounds of food to be distributed to families in need.
"This year I really hope that campers take away the importance of being someone's everyday hero," explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "You can have a large impact on your neighbors without having to spend a lot of money. Our time at Feeding America hopefully showed the campers how much you can accomplish together in little time."
Rock hound and fourth-generation Dixon farmer, Terry Springer, 65, says when he's outdoors he's always on the lookout for a stone that catches his eye.
"Ever since I was a little boy, I've been walking around with my head down," explains Terry, who over a lifetime has amassed a rare and extensive rock collection.
Terry's collection boasts ancient arrow heads, mammoth bones, fossilized wood, rose quartz, moss rock and other unique geologic specimens.
Many of the rocks were discovered on the land his great-grandparents and great-great-uncle first farmed in the early 1900s - the land where today, he and his brother, Wayne, 60, continue the family's farming legacy. Together they raise corn, small grains, forage and a cow/calf-to-finish-direct-marketing beef operation, Springer Farms.
"I like living in the country and being my own boss. I enjoy working with cattle and being out working in nature," says Wayne, who at 19 bought the farm neighboring the land his great-great-uncle Hans homesteaded near Gregory.
When the neighbors were ready to retire, Wayne explains that they asked him if he was interested in the land because they knew he would take care of it.
"Even in the late '70s investors were buying up farm ground around here. They sold the land to me because, in their own words, "they wanted their farm to remain a working farm and didn't want it to become an abandoned homestead,'" Wayne says.
He adds that the land he owns was originally purchased by his great-grandfather Carl in 1904, one year after it was homesteaded.
Carl lost the farm during the Dirty Thirties.
The brothers can empathize with the challenges their grandfather faced.
HURON, S.D. - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue authorized the release of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota for emergency haying. The announcement follows urgent requests from National Farmers Union (NFU), state Farmers Union divisions, agriculture groups and legislators for the USDA to address severe drought conditions in the Upper Great Plains.
South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, was among a group of state Farmers Union presidents who sent a letter to Perdue June 20, 2017, urging him to release CRP acres.
South Dakota Farmers Union joins with other drought-stricken states in requesting that Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres be released for livestock owners to utilize as forage to feed their animals.
"This drought is a natural disaster - creating a situation where many of South Dakota's livestock producers are running out of grass and other forages to feed their animals," said Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union and a fourth-generation crop and livestock producer from Conde.
On June 20, 2017, Sombke, along with the president of National Farmers Union and presidents of Farmers Union organizations from the drought-stricken states of North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, with this request.
S.D. Farmers Union Announces their Support for Non-Meandered Water Draft Legislation HURON, S.D. - S.D. Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, says the organization supports 5 Open Compromise, the non-meandered water draft legislation discussed by the Interim Committee for Regulation of Non-meandered Waters held May 24, 2017 in Pierre. "Now that we have had time to review the proposed draft, our organization will endorse the legislation, as long as legislators understand that there are still some issues which need to be addressed," said Sombke, a fourth-generation crop and livestock farmer from Conde.
Sombke explains that this draft is relevant to the South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers S.D. Farmers Union represents because these waters cover land these agriculture producers own - land which they can no longer raise livestock or crops on.
In fact, non-meandered waters impact South Dakota's number one industry enough that the organization hired a Natural Resources attorney, David Ganje, to provide information to help draft language to be used in the a bill.
"Farmers and ranchers should not be tasked with the expense related to taking care of public water on land that they can no longer earn a profit from," said Sombke. "Our organization would like to see landowners compensated for public water in similar way as those landowners who allow access on their land for hunting and other outdoor activities via CREP a state run public access program."
Proposed Legislation 5 Open Compromise was released for review May 23, just one day before the public committee hearing held May 24. Sombke hopes that two more issues are addressed during the 2018 Legislative Session. Uniform Taxation of Non-Meandered Lands: "Each county taxes non-meandered lands differently and they need to be taxed equally state-wide," Sombke explained. Township and county roads maintenance: "This was not addressed and needs to be. Road maintenance from increased recreational traffic to and from non-meandered waters or caused by the public waters, should not be the responsibility of the county or township - the state needs to provide compensation," Sombke said. Sombke was encouraged to see several of the ideas which were brought forward by Ganje, on behalf of S.D. Farmers Union, are being addressed in this draft.
"I understand that taxation and road maintenance are not emergency issues that need to be addressed this summer, but they do need to be addressed before the end of the 2018 session," Sombke said.
Below, Sombke lists eight sections which need to be included in the bill because it directly impacts South Dakota's family farmers, ranchers and their rural communities. Eight points that impact S.D. Farmers & Ranchers 1. A Quiet Zone based upon Distance and Times of the Day; 2. A Setback Rule based upon Distance and Type of Weapon; 3. Statute Requiring Adoption of Rules by GF&P for Recreational Use; 4. Statute Excluding Certain Use of Non-Meandered Waters; 5. Ramp Lease Matter - In prior, proposed bills there was discussion of state ramp and access agreements with landowners who border on or hold title to lake bottoms or surrounding lands on non-meandered waters; 6. Uniform Taxation of Non-Meandered Lands. This is not addressed in the current draft; 7. Landowner Liability Matter; and 8. Township and county roads maintenance by deprivation to access water. This is not addressed in the current draft.
To become a part of the conversation on non-meandered water and its impact on South Dakota farmers and ranchers, contact S.D. Farmers Union Executive Director, Karla Hofhenke at 605-352-6761 ext. 114. Media Contact: Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director, S.D. Farmers Union 605-352-6761 ext. 114 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilson Kubwayo's presentation to S.D. Farmers Union Jr. REAL students at Freeman High School begins with a song he calls "the fun song." But it's not a simple song. And his is not a simple story.
Starting the beat with handclaps, he sings a few lines, encourages the crowd to join in, breaks into a rap verse and finishes with some show-stopping dance moves. The audience of juniors and seniors goes wild. Kubwayo's energy is infectious. He is happy. That itself is impressive given his unlikely journey to the United States.
At age 2, Kubwayo and his family fled the small African country of Burundi when it was torn apart by a civil war. They migrated to a refugee camp in Tanzania where Wilson lived until age 13. "Living in that camp taught me lessons no man can teach," says Kubwayo. "I always thought if I just had an easier life, I would have a good life and then I would be able to do great things."
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 No. 1 industry and help feed the world. This month we feature the Martinmaas farm family from Orient. Ray and Becky Martinmaas pictured here.
by Lura Roti for S.D. Farmers Union
During a blizzard nearly 65 years ago, a neighbor knocked on Bill and Wanelda Martinmaas' door. His wife was in labor and things were not going well. Bill started up his John Deere A and drove with his young wife the half mile to help.
On Bill's way home, his tractor got stuck. It was dark. Driving wind mixed with snow made it impossible to see. Bill was lost.
"I had the young kids at home. I thought of those kids in the house and knew I needed to get home to them or they would freeze," says Bill, who at 90, vividly recalls the story.
"Dad walked for quite a while, then he tripped over something. He realized he tripped over the top wire of a barbed wire fence and figured out where he was. He followed that fence and made it home," says Ray, 67, Bill's oldest son.
At the time, Ray was 3, his brother, Randy, was 2 and their sister, Sandy, was just a baby.
In the end, the neighbor and her baby survived. And the three Martinmaas kids? They eventually became 12. Six boys and six girls Ray, Randy, Sandy, Kathy, Paulette, Rick, Lonnie, Lori, Julie, Mike, Marylynn and Brad.
Today, standing outside the farmhouse Ray shares with his wife, Becky, father and son recall the early years.
To read more and view the photo gallery, click here
South Dakota winters can be brutal. Foot Hills Kiwanas Club ensures that children in need of warm winter coats have them before the cold winds blow.
"Kids shouldn't suffer in the winter. We make sure kids in need have a new winter coat. You know they love them because the day they come in to pick them out, it is typically too warm to wear a coat, and yet they don't want to take their new coat off," explains Sharon Wilson, a charter member of the organization.
Anyone who has lived on a farm or ranch has heard the stories. An injury from a grain auger. An accidental fire or deadly gas exposure. Some of us have seen tragedy first hand. There's nothing fun about these realities, but South Dakota Farmers Union is taking a fun approach to helping prevent them.
Each year, the Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl challenges high school students from South Dakota FFA chapters to compete in a game show format with questions such as: What kind of fire extinguisher should you keep in a combine? What does Hydrogen Sulfide smell like? Or, What is the leading cause of weather-related deaths?
South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director, Rachel Haigh-Blume says, "Anything you can do to promote safety to the next generation is so important. You can't emphasize it enough, no matter the age."
Mark your calendars for a day of fun between planting and harvest by joining S.D. Farmers Union for the annual Dakota Prairie Open Golf Tournament June 20, 2017.
"A guy needs a day off once in a while - why not spend a day golfing with friends to raise money for educational programming," said Wayne Soren, a Lake Preston farmer and S.D. Farmers Union Vice President.
Held in Mitchell at the Lakeview Golf Course, the 18-hole scramble begins at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start. Registration includes lunch and prizes on every hole. All event proceeds go to the S.D. Farmers Union Foundation to help fund educational programming.
As we reflect on the women who raised us this Mother's Day, South Dakota Farmers Union would like to celebrate the many women who support the state's No. 1 industry - farm and ranch moms!
Read on to learn the story of two mothers representing two generations born and raised on South Dakota farms and ranches. These women share their story and reflect on raising children on their South Dakota farm or ranch.