2019 S.D. Farmers Union Day at the State Fair Supports South Dakota’s Family Farmers & Ranchers & Rural Communities

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Recognizing rural heroes, awarding more than $25,000 in scholarships, feeding more than 1,000 fairgoers and discussing industrial hemp with policy makers and much more – 2019 South Dakota Farmers Union Day at the State Fair, August 31, focused on supporting South Dakota’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

“We work all year to make this day’s events relevant and educational for South Dakotans involved in agriculture and those who aren’t,” explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

As one of the state’s largest agriculture organizations, and a premier sponsor of the South Dakota State Fair, members of the grassroots organization recognized those who give back to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. The 2019 Rural Dakota Pride honorees include Rich Bakeberg, Frederick; Jeannie Hofer, Huron; Jim Lane, Groton; Angie Mueller, Ethan and Franklin Olson, Pierpont.

“South Dakota’s agriculture producers and their communities are closely connected. In good economic times they both prosper. When the economy is down, like today with the trade war, low commodity prices and extreme weather conditions, they both feel the pain,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde farmer. “The Rural Dakota Pride honor is one of many ways SDFU works to show our support for both.”

Providing hands-on educational opportunities for fairgoers, SDFU hosted its annual Farmers Share Lunch and Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl.

Feeding more than 1,000, the lunch is designed to help those not involved in agriculture understand the gap between the price paid for food in the grocery store and what a South Dakota family farmer or rancher earns. The lunch, which would retail for $12, only cost fairgoers 25 cents. Learn more, visit www.sdfu.org.

Educating youth about farm safety is a large part of SDFU educational programming. The organization’s interactive Farm Safety Trailer is on display throughout the entire fair, and during Farmers Union Day. Four qualifying FFA teams put their farm safety knowledge to the test, competing in the Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl. FFA Chapters competing included Wolsey Wessington, Hoven, Howard and Dell Rapids. Learn which team won by visiting www.sdfu.org.

Policy makers discuss industrial hemp

Industrial hemp has been on the minds of South Dakota legislators this summer as they work to develop a bill Governor Noem will sign in 2020. And today Farmers Union hosted two legislative members of the Summer Industrial Hemp Study to discuss with fairgoers what they learned from visiting with leaders from other states where the agriculture crop is legal.

“We’re working to come up with legislation everyone can be comfortable with,” explains Lee Qualm, House Majority Leader and Chair of Industrial Hemp Summer Study.

After the South Dakota Senate failed to override Governor Noem’s veto of House Bill 1191, which would have legalized industrial hemp, a group of legislators, including Minority Whip and District 28A Representative, Oren Lesmeister began meeting with officials from states where industrial hemp is grown and processed, to learn how state departments of agriculture work with law enforcement, farmers and citizens.

“We are seeing that these states have strict rules in place, but we also see that the fear industrial hemp is a backway to produce the drug, marijuana, is unwarranted,” Lesmeister, a Parade rancher and small business owner explains. “We have also learned farmers can make money from this.”

New marketing opportunities from the hardy crop that can be grown in nearly every region of South Dakota, are the reason Qualm and Lesmeister voted to legalize growing the crop during the 2019 Legislative Session.

“Industrial hemp is the first new crop that has come along in decades,” says Qualm, a Platte farmer. “It provides the opportunity to add value to a crop before it leaves the state. We are so used to shipping out raw commodities instead of processing them here.”

“Industrial hemp would give South Dakotans opportunities,” adds Lesmeister. “I say South Dakotans, not just farmers or ranchers, because it’s the business as a whole, through manufacturing opportunities that could benefit the entire state.”

Support for legalizing industrial hemp became part of SDFU policy in 2018. The organization will continue to lobby Pierre to legalize the crop during the 2019 Legislative Session. Learn more about SDFU policy at www.sdfu.org.

Supporting rural youth through scholarships

The South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance, recognized recipients of the Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow $1,000 scholarship.

Over the past 12 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools. 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. “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.

Recipients include the following students: Abbie Bratland, daughter of Curwin & Kim Bratland, Willow Lake High School; Bayden Schneider, son of Jason & Velda Schneider, Chester Area High School;Benjamin Sees, son of Mike & Kris Sees, Irene-Wakonda High School; Brandon Volmer, son of Todd & Rona Volmer, Winner High School; Brittany Delzer, daughter of Glen & Cheryl Delzer Sturgis Brown High School; Caleb Nugteren, son of Darin & Lisa Nugteren, Canistota High School; Conner Edelman, son of Kevin & Lisa Edelman, Menno Public High School; Elise Heesch, daugher of Loran & Yvette Heesch, Sisseton High School; Emily Buse, daughter of Gary & DeeAnna Buse, Lennox High School; Jaedyn Oplinger, daughter of Linda Oplinger, Menno Public High School;  Justin Edelman, son of Del & Brenda Edelman, Menno Public High School; Justin Goetz, son of Trent & Goetz & Patricia Pudwill, Selby Area High School; Kaitlyn Carlon, daughter of Ronald & Nancy Carlon, Canton High School; Kendra Johnson, daughter of Wayne & Nancy Johnson, Webster Area High School; Kristin Kotes, daughter of Greg Kotes & Angel Eddy, Bridgewater-Emery High School; Liza Schoenbeck, daughter of Loren & Lisa Schoenbeck, Webster Area High School; Morgan Feddersen, son of Chris & Beth Feddersen, Jones County High School; Paydon Casper, son of Eric & Laurie Casper, Lake Preston High School; Spencer Lund, son of Brian & Kari Lund, St. Thomas More High School; Sydney Hoffman, daughter of Jeff & Deanna Hoffman, Bridgewater-Emery High School; Sydney Smith, daughter of Jay & Sherry Smith, Redfield High School; Tess Oplinger, daughter of Linda Oplinger, Menno Public High School; Tessa Menzel, daughter of CJ & Mandie Menzel, Philip High School;  Trevor Frost, son of Travis & Kaylin Frost, Redfield High School and Trista Frost, daughter of Travis & Kaylin Frost, Redfield High School.

Learn more about SDFU educational programming at www.sdfu.org.

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