The South Dakota Cattleman | Winter 2023

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South Dakota Cattleman the

Winter 2023 Legislative Edition
official publication of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association
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SDCA Calendar of Events

January 10 - March 27, 2023: South Dakota Legislative Session, Pierre

January 25-26, 2023: SDCA Board Meeting & SDCA Day at the Capitol, Pierre

February 1-3, 2023: Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, New Orleans

February 6: Ag Fest, Pierre

Advertising Opportunities

The South Dakota Cattleman is published six times a year and sent to SDCA members including beef producers, beef industry supporters, property owners, allied industry partners, as well as state and local government officials with a circulation of 1,000�

Advertising deadline is the 5th of the month prior to publication

The SDCA newsletter, The Cattle Guard, is emailed to all SDCA members every week The Cattle Guard contains updates and news from SDCA, Industry Partners, and NCBA�

Follow us on our social media platforms to stay informed of the latest SDCA news, events, and information�

South Dakota Cattlemen's Association In Every Issue From the Cattle Pen 4 The Cattlemen's Outlook ������������������������������������������������������ 15 NCBA Membership Form ����������������������������������������������������� 15 Preparation is Key to Success ��������������������������������������������� 16 Western Perspective ������������������������������������������������������������ 18 Your Beef Checkoff Dollars at Work ������������������������������������� 26 Features Legislative Profile: Senator Erin Tobin 20 From the Saddle to the Statehouse: Rep. Will Mortenson 22 Legislative Profile: Rep. Oren Lesmeister 25 Association & Industry News 74th Annual Convention & Trade Show 6 Cattlemen's Education Series Recap 6 SDCA Cattlemen Honored at Convention 7 From the Cyber Classroom to the Farm Field 10 SDCA Affiliate Contact Information �������������������������������������� 30 sdcattlemen SDCattlemen
2 Winter 2023

SDCA Leadership


Eric Jennings, President

Warren Symens, Vice President

Vaughn Thorstenson, Secretary/ Treasurer

Craig Bieber, VP of Membership

Jeff Smeenk, Past President

Regional Representatives

Jay Jones, Northern Region

Troy Hadrick, Northern Region

Drew Edleman, Northeast Region

Nick Wilkinson, Northeast Region

Colby Olson, Southeast Region

Austin Havlik, Southeast Region

Casey Heenan, Southern Region

Kory Bierle, Southern Region

Britton Blair, Western Region

Devin Stephens, Western Region

Council Members

John Reisch, Cattle Feeder Council

Jared Knock, Cow-Calf Council

Emily Peterson,Young Cattlemen Council

SDCA Staff

Taya Runyan Executive Director

Lorrin Naasz Director of Communications & Outreach

For additional information, visit

Ad Index

The South Dakota Cattleman 3
Farm Credit Services of America Front Inside Cover OLS Tubs ............................................................................................................ 2 701x .................................................................................................................. 19 DVAuction ....................................................................................................... 19 Cattle Business Weekly ................................................................................. 31 Dakotaland Feeds ........................................................................................... 31 MLS Tubs 31 American Angus Association 32 Sioux Automation Center 32

From the Cattle Pen

Warren Symens, SDCA Vice President

Dearest Mother,

I arrived in Pierre safely and set up camp east of the fort. The amenities are adequate, and I am looking forward to the coming days’ mission with great trepidation, and yet, confidence. We’ve trained and battled through the previous season in preparation The General is the model of calm and collected leadership The troops will doubtless follow him into the fire. Will write more when time and conditions allow

Day one: Many good folks from around South Dakota began to march in to assist with the necessary work before us� The impending blizzard has resulted in riders bringing news that our ranks will be substantially lower than expected The need for our efforts is great, however, and we are undaunted as we face the next 36 hours. At first muster, we reinstated much of the same position that was held by others who came before us, and we stood in their footsteps with pride We even made some headway and advanced on new ground that we previously had not held While I cannot, from this position and in good conscience, report to you our exact movements, I can report that we acted with the best interest of our comrades in mind As one wing took steps to ensure that ground held by those still in the trenches would continue to be supported, another flank established a position to prevent more burdensome attacks on our resources. Reinforcements also took higher ground to secure our supply, lest it become diluted by supply from across our borders

Day two: More of the same, although we took some casualties, mostly due to deteriorating weather conditions� Rations are ample, and our ranks continue to keep up morale in the face of mounting obstacles Some restraint was needed in efforts to slow the negotiated seizure of territory

A lull in the action also gave us time to update leadership and support roles around the territory, and these changes were agreed to after a relatively painless polling of those present. It must be noted that we gained the astute and immediate attention of those far up the chain of command for the position we held and thus our moods were kept high, knowing that we serve our neighbors well The work done here this day was important and will doubtless lead to a swelling of our ranks in the future These seven squadrons remain resolute in their actions and will step up recruitment for new souls to aid in the successful future of our endeavors�

This evening we made merry, as we celebrated the success of the mission, and collected resources for the continued success of the organization

We recognized those who exhibited high performance with courage, valor, and tireless effort in the past season We wouldn’t survive without many like them. Ale flowed in abundance, with anticipation of the morning march home�

Day three: While several brigades departed under duress, many support and implementation units stayed put, fearing the worse would befall us if we headed out Those that returned to the home front left part of their rations, and it salved our bitterness somewhat Moods soured as we received reports back with words of terrible conditions, and we became even more deflated when we were informed the worst was yet to come�

Food supply dwindling Leadership structure has unraveled Rumors abound regarding conditions away from here, and our moral officer was reported as stranded, with our only means of extraction in his possession. Reports coming in from every direction that we needed to stay hunkered down, lest we fall to the same fate

Day four: Some prepared to desert, others stared blankly into the abyss. Received word we would not be rescued, should we become buried and frozen in the barren wilderness. Clean fatigues have become limited. I can only hope this letter reaches you, or that these words bring you some comfort, should they be my last Alas, one fellow remarked that if the Donner Party can have hope, so, too, can we

Day five: We may look forward to what can only assume will be considered a Christmas feast after we have spent our remaining time on half rations� My thoughts are of home, and the simple smell of coffee from the kitchen, my children playing in the snow, and cows munching on hay contentedly. I’m reminded of why we do what we do here, so we can continue to do what we do there While there may be those in our ranks who do not understand the relationship between the two, we can’t let them bring infighting and dissention among us. We must remain diligent and unified, mindful that it takes all of us to move our cause forward

Until we meet again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Warren Symens

P.S. It’s been many days since I last wrote, but good news abounds� The winds died down and the sun shined over the snow-covered prairie� The few starved and weary soldiers that remained could hardly believe our eyes when a rescue party was spotted coming over the ridge Praise God we are heading home

Aaladin Cleaning-Revier Pressure Washers

Creative Ag Production Solutions, LLC

Diesel Machinery, Inc

First Fidelity Bank

For-Most Inc.

Prime Members

Corporate Members

Choice Members

3D Security, Inc.

Animal Clinic, Ltd. - Winner

Bankwest, Inc. - Pierre

Blindert Insurance

Bryant State Bank C-Lock, Inc.

Cattlecents Consulting, Inc.

Select Members

Standard Members

Millborn Seeds

OLS Tubs, Inc.

Renner Corner Locker

Rock Veterinary Clinic


Supporting Members

Ed's Produce

Farmers & Merchants State Bank

First Interstate Bank-Hot Springs

First National Bank - Ft. Pierre

Huron Veterinary Hospital

Kingbrook Rural Water System, Inc.

Lilace Lane Media

Liphatech (Rozol)

Lyle Signs Inc

Steele Financial Services, LLC

The Nature Conservancy

Walsh Trading

White Insurance P&C Inc.


Sioux International

Sioux Nation, LLC

Statewide Ag Insurance - Winner

Stockwell Engineers

Summit Carbon Solutions

Top Dollar Angus

Twin Lakes Animal Clinic


Montrose Veterinary Clinic

US Premium Beef

Y-Tex Corporation

The South Dakota Cattleman 5
Allied Industry Members
Trucking Association S
D Trucking Association
Chase Consulting
Deer Equipment
De Smet Veterinary Service
De-Tye Vet Supply, Inc.
Manufacturing LLC / SILENCER
Rivers Edge Bank
Allied Industry Membership information available online at
Cooperative Central Farmers Cooperative Custom Genetic Solutions
Ethanol, LLC
Nutrient Advisors Rush-Co

74th Annual Convention

The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) held the 74th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Pierre, December 12-13 Cattlemen and women from across the state gathered at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center to network, craft policy, and learn about new information and technology practices within the beef cattle industry

The convention kicked off with committee meetings regarding policies such as Ag and Food, Tax and Credit, Live Cattle Marketing/ International Trade, The Property Rights and Environmental Management, Federal Lands and Cattle Health, and Wellbeing committees�

The first day ended with the Best of Beef Happy Hour Thanks to First Dakota National Bank, attendees didn't go dry� Dakota Thirst and Cash Flow beer, a special brew to celebrate the bank's 150th anniversary, was served up by First Dakota VP and SDCA Director, Austin Havlik�

At the annual membership meeting on day two, SDCA members and attendees engaged in additional policy discussions and introduced new policy resolutions to guide the association over the next year as they tackle issues concerning beef cattle industry at the state and national level�

New policy introduced and adopted at the convention included:

• Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) which states that the SDCA supports voluntary COOL and opposes mandatory COOL, while

also supporting the use of technology to more efficiently source verify cattle;

• Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) Enhancement which requests the United States Department of Agriculture to enhance NAP

coverage to allow producers to elect buy up coverage for grassland intended for grazing at the same levels as coverage for mechanically harvested forage;

• Fair Tax Structure which states that the SDCA opposes any changes in the tax structure that may unfairly shift the tax burden to ag producers�

A full listing of policy that was reinstated or adopted is available on the SDCA's

In November, the SDCA held an election for members in each region to elect Region Representatives to serve on the Board of Directors� The newly elected directors announced at convention are Colby Olson, Southeast Region and Troy Hadrick, Northern Region. The new directors join incumbents Devin Stephens, Western Region; Kory Bierle, Southern Region; and Nick Wilkinson, Northeast Region. Leading the SDCA Board of Directors is the executive team of officers. The 2023 officers are Eric Jennings, President; Warren Symens, Vice President; Craig Bieber, Vice President of Membership; Vaughn Thorstenson, Secretary/ Treasurer; and Jeff Smeenk, Past President.

As part of the Cattlemen’s Education Series, sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association, a panel of speakers shared information on new research and technology practices that can help improve efficiency, and conservation practices within the beef cattle industry Panelists included Jameson Brennan, SDSU Assistant Professor/Research and Extension Specialist-Livestock Grazing; Chandy Olson, CATL Resources;

6 Winter 2023

Communications & Influencer Interns

Convention & Trade Show

Jeremy McBride, 701x Representative; Bryan Moes, Moes Feedyard LLC; and Nick Jorgensen, CEO of Jorgensen Land and Cattle. The panel was moderated by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Colin Woodall

Representatives from each organization discussed how implementing these technologies, such as virtual fencing, GPS ear tags, advanced software for mixing rations in feedlots, as well as explain how these practices improve sustainability and conservation practices. In return, implementing these practices has improved efficiency and profitability on their operations.

A popular discussion in the media is about sustainability and methane emissions from the cattle industry� Many ranchers voice frustration in being blamed as the leading cause of the greenhouse gas effect

Dr Brennan shared about the research that SDSU Extension is conducting at the Cottonwood Field Station to measure emissions and collect data from cattle on a rangeland environment� Gathering this data is a huge advancement for the agriculture industry in helping measure sustainability and show the proactive actions that are being taken to reduce methane gas emissions.

The remainder of the Convention featured additional educational seminars from SDSU Extension and CattleFax. SDSU presented and overview of the Mental Health: Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Training program, attendees learned about the importance of recognizing suicidal behaviors and how program participants learn to save lives by providing innovative, practical, and proven suicide prevention training�

In another seminar session, SDSU Extension, and their partners AgSpire and Buffalo Ridge Cattle Company presented their upcoming project

“The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Developing Climate-Smart Beef and Bison Commodities”. This project will create market opportunities for beef and bison producers who utilize climate-smart agriculture grazing and land-management practices. This project is one of several funded by a historic grant award from USDA�

Dr. Warren Rusche and Dr. Laura Edwards presented on Mesonet and weather data tools� This tool uses data collected from Mesonet sites across South Dakota to provide different including wind chill/heat index, temperature humidity index, and comprehensive climate index Tools like Mesonet are important for producers seeking to make their operational plans, but also provide critical data needed when seeking to participate in government programs� There is still a need for additional sites across South Dakota

For the final session, Troy Bockelmann of Cattlefax, provided a market update Bockelmann mentioned that drought is likely to subside in 2023, but liquidation will drive years of tighter cattle supplies and beef production. In addition, higher prices into mid-decade, outpacing input costs and driving improved producer profitability.

The convention wrapped up with the Cattlemen’s Banquet At the banquet, SDCA recognized two fellow Cattlemen for their dedication and leadership

The South Dakota Cattleman 7

within the beef industry, their local affiliate, and SDCA�

Scott Slepikas, the 2022 Cattleman of the Year, is a farmer, rancher, owner and operator at Slepikas Farm and Ranch and serves as the Central Cattlemen’s Affiliate President. The Slepikas family farm and ranch is in Beadle County, northeast of Huron, where Scott is the fourth generation to farm the land as it was homesteaded over 120 years ago. This farm was one of the first farms in the state and the first in Beadle County to irrigate with center pivots Slepikas raises black angus, corn, soybeans, and hay, irrigating two-thirds of the crops

When Slepikas joined the association over 20 years ago, he helped at the South Dakota State Fair beef booth. He has since been an officer and president of his affiliate for the past ten years. He’s also served an affiliate representative and regional vice president on the SDCA Board and serves as the chairman/ organizer of the beef booth at the South Dakota State Fair for the past ten years�

Slepikas is very active in his community, serving multiple leadership positions, including the church council to the township board

“I like being involved in my community because I believe in volunteering and giving back,” said Slepikas, who is a 4-H leader and County 4-H achievements day judge.

Slepikas serves as a lay minister, volunteer for his church, and was named by the Huron Chamber of Commerce as Outstanding Farmer of the Year

Dr. Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University’s Extension Beef Feedlot Management Specialist, received the 2022 Friend of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association�

Within his role at SDSU, Rusche has been a valued friend and resource to the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. Rusche worked with local affiliates when he was an Extension Educator in Deuel County� During his involvement in his family’s beef operation, Rusche was on the board of the Kingsbury County Cattlemen’s affiliate.

Rusche serves as an ex-officio member of the SDCA Feed Council, where he is part of policy discussions and helps with educational efforts A year ago, the Council wanted to distribute water testing meters to members who might have been dealing with poor water quality. Rusche took the lead coordinating the purchase and distribution of the meters�

This year Rusche helped coordinate the SDCA Feeder Council feedlot tour Rusche helped identify tour locations and organized the logistics

“I strongly feel that with our advantages of relatively less expensive feed and the highest quality beef genetics in North America are born here. It only makes sense that feeding more cattle in South Dakota offers tremendous potential for economic development My hope is that events such as the Feedlot Tour can help promote the feedlot business in South Dakota,” said Rusche.

“Now I get to work with some great leaders through the Cattle Feeder’s Council. I have learned a

tremendous amount through my involvement in this Association and look forward to working with this group for years to come,” said Rusche.

After the award presentations, SDCA also recognized the 2022 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award winners, the Bien family of Veblen When thinking of what’s next in agriculture, in Marshall County, it’s not “what’s next”, but “what’s Neil doing?” said Warren Symens, Vice President of SDCA "Neil Bien and his family have been leaders in implementing conservation practices that will preserve the land for generations to come�"

The night concluded with the President’s Auction� Thank you to all that generously donated items and made purchases to support the endeavors of the SDCA on behalf of cattle producers in South Dakota DV Auction hosted the event online in addition to the live auction giving folks from across the state the ability to participate in the event� Thanks to auctioneer Kim Ulmer, a good evening was had by all in attendance�


From the Cyber Classroom Dakota State takes its cyber

When Dakota State was created in 1881, the little college on the prairie trained many teachers to provide pioneer’s children with an education. Dakota State is now a cyber powerhouse on the plains, a university with an international reputation for all things related to cyber and computer sciences. Their mission, however, still includes serving the descendants of the original pioneers by incorporating cyber into every major and every field, including agriculture.

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky explained how Dakota State’s focus on cybersecurity impacts agriculture through outreach and research at the 2022 South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention in December.

“Dakota State University is at the intersection of industry-driven cyber research and economic development outreach activities,” she said.

The Vice President for Research and Economic Development at DSU said “I grew up helping on the Severtson ranch in Flandreau. I have helped with calving, checking fences, branding and more, so I have a deep appreciation for the demanding life of a cattle producer.”

When she came to Dakota State to study cybersecurity, she admitted she didn’t see the connection between her past and her future, but now she does. She shared advice to minimize cybersecurity risks in the present, and ways the University is working to improve cybersecurity in the future, regardless of the domain.

Cyber Threats: What Do You Need to Protect?

“Cybersecurity in the ag and cattle industry is far more than just data on a computer. The threat surface you must protect far exceeds the confines of your home office,” she stated.

One example is RFID geolocation tags which allow producers to know when cattle have been loaded into a

truck or are outside a fence.

Others include IP-based security cameras that help producers see all areas of their operation from a computer screen or phone, or the data generated by machinery during planting and harvesting. Bad actors can attack this technology just like any other, with ransomware becoming more common. This form of malware, designed to block access to a computer system until a specified ransom is paid, increased by 485% between 2019 and 2020. Sixty percent of small and medium-sized companies hit with ransomware go out of business within six months of the attack due to significant downtime, loss of critical data, high recovery costs, or serious reputation damage.

Podhradsky told producers there is a duty to protect the food and agriculture industry that is shared between federal, state, local, tribal, and private sectors, as well as producers, so she shared advice with the members attending the convention:

• Keep on top of security updates

• Approach unknown emails, websites, and downloads with caution

• Implement a reputable, multi-layered cloud email secuirty solution

• Back up the data

• Use unique passwords and two-factor authentication

• Don't give out personal information

• Check bank statements regularly and get a regular credit check

Cyber Safety in the Future

Dakota State also sees that duty, and has outreach programs and research projects in progress to help improve security, many defined by DSU President Dr. JoseMarie Griffiths. Podhradsky is working to build a foundation for these impactful programs in the present, and ensuring they are sustainable for the future.

“Fortunately, we have talented faculty and staff that make my job easy,” Podhradsky said. “Our faculty and research staff are true leaders in cybersecurity education, research, and applied aspects of the cyber sciences.”


Classroom to the Farm Field cyber mission to agriculture

Current research projects include looking at novel ways to ensure ag data confidentiality and integrity, and designing a secure cyberinfrastructure for precision ag in South Dakota. These and other problem-solving applied research take place in the Madison Cyber Labs, or MadLabs®.

Podhradsky was pleased to share about the recently announced CyberSafeSD program, a comprehensive cybersecurity program for small businesses in South Dakota that includes cybersecurity assessments, security awareness training, cyber threat intelligence, and remediation activities.

“This award is a direct reflection of University leadership, state-level partnerships, and our reputation as a cybersecurity powerhouse,” Podhradsky said. CyberSafeSD is one of three, 12-month pilot programs in the nation funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The aim is to help small businesses - including ag and cattle operations - with cybersecurity.

“I have a lot of pride in the work of our faculty and staff,” she said, but “DSU is not alone with this award.” This program includes partners in the Consumer Protection Office in the Attorney General’s Office, the South Dakota Fusion Center, the Bureau of Information Technology, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. To sign up, producers can visit, email, or call 605-256-5100.

In addition to these innovative and ground-breaking efforts with its signature mission of technology, Dakota State continues to offer programs through its heritage mission of education.

“Whether you have children or grandchildren in middle or high school, or know anyone with kids, Dakota State has an outreach program to help them learn about cyber,” Podhradsky said.

DSU offers week-long summer camps called GenCyber, for middle school girls and high school students, where they can learn about technology and explore their options in cyber careers. Another outreach program is the student-led initiative called Cyber Community Club, or Cx3, which offers students opportunities for training, monthly activities and competitions, professional development, mentoring and networking.

“We know South Dakota is one of the best states to live in,” Podhradsky said. “The second thing we know without hesitation is that Dakota State University is one of the best Universities to study cybersecurity.” These multi-faceted efforts in education and research provided through Dakota State will help everyone stay more cybersecure.

“Individually, we all help with cybersecurity, but collectively we can help South Dakota small businesses, including cattle and ag producers, to better respond to cyber threats and attacks,” Podhradsky said.

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky Vice President for Research and Economic Development at DSU
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Thank you, Sponsors!

74th Annual Convention & Trade Show
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The Cattleman's Outlook

While the 74th annual Convention and Trade Show certainly wasn’t what we thought it would look like, we set out to have good conversations, enjoy time spent with friends, colleagues, and customers, attend and learn from educational seminars, elect leaders, and make good policy… and in that regard, we accomplished our goals�

The event was a success and reflective of what the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association stands forbeing flexible, being prepared to pivot, and getting the job done despite challenging circumstances.

One such example of that flexibility was transitioning the annual President’s Auction to have a much bigger online presence The Auction Committee worked hard to put together some amazing auction items and experiences this year, and our staff collaborated with DVAuction to make sure that even those who joined us virtually had a chance to participate and support SDCA

The President’s Auction is an essential part of our annual budget� These funds are exclusively used to fund travel expenses for our officers to advocate on behalf of cattle producers at national meetings and on Capitol Hill� Participation this year was outstanding Thank you to DVAuction and those who bid on items – in person or online – for your support of SDCA�

In 2023, our goal to increase membership continues. If you or someone you know has been on the fence about joining the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, please reach out to me or any of the board members to talk about what it means to be a member and how you can be part of our grassroots policy development�

The South Dakota Cattleman 15
SDCA NCBA Join SDCA and NCBA today! JOIN NCBA TODAY. Fill out and mail back this form to: PO Box 173778, Denver, CO 80217 Call us at 866.233.3872 OR Join online at NAME BUSINESS/RANCH NAME ADDRESS LINE 1 ADDRESS LINE 2 CITY/STATE/ZIP HOME PHONE OFFICE PHONE EMAIL RECRUITED BY PAYMENT METHOD Check Visa Mastercard American Express Card # EXP Signature CVC Checks payable to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association NCBA PRODUCER MEMBERSHIP COW-CALF PRODUCER HERD SIZE 1-100 $150 101-250 $300 251-300 $450 501-750 $650 751-1000 $900 1001-1250 $1,150 1251-1500 $1,400 1501-1750 $1,650 1751-2000 $1,900 2000+ (# hd___x38c) + $1,900 = STOCKER/FEEDER (# hd___x38c) + $150 = ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP NON-CATTLE OWNING, NON-VOTING Individual $150 Business $200 Student $50 (24 or younger) TOTAL AMOUNT PAID Sign me up for auto-renewal

Preparation is Key to Success

Winter in the central plains is not for the faint of heart. We expect cold and snow, yet still some winter storms turn out to be a little more than we bargain for. During the recent mid- December storm that happened the week of the 74th Annual Convention, snowfall totals in many locations exceeded all expectations and road conditions deteriorated quickly leading to a statewide blizzard spanning an entire week and into the weekend.

While offices, schools, and stores closed, cattle ranches stayed open. Producers and their families prepared for winter conditions by having enough feed on hand and water accessible, moving cattle to winter pastures, and putting up windbreaks. Because of the care they receive year-round, cattle are, for the most part, able to tolerate the cold and snow well, but that wasn’t always the case.

Just 135 years ago, cattle ranching looked a lot different, and it was a snowstorm much like this one that forever changed the cattle industry. In the winter of 1886-87, during what is often referred to as “The Great Die Up”, hundreds of thousands of cattle died in the harsh weather across the plains. During this time of open range grazing, poor land management, lack of water and forage, and insufficient nutrition, lead to cattle and ranchers being unprepared to weather the storms.

While devastating to the producers of the day, the events of that winter led to changes that made the industry stronger. The years that followed The Great Die Up saw the end of open range grazing of unmanageably large herds, producers became intentional stewards of the land, and they took better care of the livestock. It’s still not easy to be a rancher when the storms come, but cattlemen are now able to manage herds successfully through tough conditions and not suffer the same fate.

Today the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association continues working to strengthen the industry through its work to ensure success in the future.

Get involved in Session 2023!

In grassroots policy organizations like the South Dakota Cattlemen’s, the members work to create policy and set the tone of the organization. When January rolls around it may be tempting to leave the legislative work to the lobbyists or the Board of Directors, but the role individual members play in the process is just as important if not more important to accomplishing the organization's goals. Here are a few ways you can be involved and make a difference during session:


Cracker barrels and legislative coffee events that take place throughout session give you an opportunity to meet your elected leaders, hear what initiatives are important to them, and discuss what is important to you and the organizations you support.


The SDCA Legislative update is a weekly newsletter during session to keep you informed about the bills that have been filed, which bills and issues we are taking a position or acting on, and how you can support our efforts.


Often a bill sounds good on paper, but there are unintended consequences. If there is a bill that would negatively impact you, your operation, or your community, it’s important to share that perspective with your organization leaders, lobbyists, and with legislators directly. Session isn’t all about fighting against bad legislation. Often the biggest successes are when ag groups join to pass legislation that helps producers. If there is a bill that would have a impact, or you have an idea that could solve an issue, share that too!


The committee hearing allows legislators to hear testimony both for and against a bill. Hearing directly from an impacted constituent is often the most persuasive and can make a difference if a legislator is on the fence. If there is an issue you feel passionate about, work with your industry organizations and lobbyist to find out how to ensure your voice is heard.

The Western Perspective

I have a confession to make to all of you; I have registered as a lobbyist for SDCA during my time as president. I hope that doesn’t adversely affect your opinion of me, or cause you to quit reading and immediately turn the page. I understand the thought which may be running through your head right now, because I too have spent most of my life with the opinion of lobbyists that most South Dakotans have -- a pretty low one� Many of us have a mental image of a lobbyist wearing a polyester suit with pockets full of “incentives” to help sway the legislator's vote to their favor. For that matter, I think most Americans feel that the whole legislative process would be much better if we didn’t have lobbyists, which is why our state has measures in place to limit lobbyists’ capabilities

I had a pond scum opinion of lobbyists until January of 2015, when I attended a session with my South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership (SDARL) class. SDARL is a leadership program that meets 12 times over the course of 18 months, and participants learn about agricultural production, processing, rural development, communication, and the legislative process among other topics� The third seminar was in Pierre where we learned the valuable role that lobbyists play in the legislative process

There is a wide variety of issues legislators deal with every session, and they can’t realistically be expected to be experts on every one of them� While South Dakota’s hearing process to vet each bill helps, it often does not fully educate the legislators or answer technical questions Lobbyists provide expertise and are there as a resource to legislators and to fellow lobbyists� Lobbyists are able to focus on a few issues at each session instead of the miriad of issues the legislators have in front of them� The lobbyists also often have far more history with an issue and are able to explain the backstory, which is important when developing a solution to an issue�

Trust is a very important factor in the relationship between the lobbyists and the legislators, and as we all know, trust is much easier to break than to build A good lobbyist will work very hard to maintain the trust of the legislators� Trust is developed by being honest with the and not knowingly giving false information

While there are certainly companies that hire lobbyists to help pass single pieces of legislation that are important to them, many lobbyists work for industry associations. Taya Runyan and Lorrin Naasz lobby on behalf of the SDCA and are guided by the policy SDCA members develop and approve at our annual meeting They also check in with the executive committee throughout the legislative session before taking a position on bills to make sure they are interpreting the policy correctly and familiar with the background of an issue� While they provide insight on the chances of a bill’s passage and the consequences of the bill, ultimately it is up to the executive committee whether or not to take a position and how aggressive that position should be

Occasionally our lobby team will ask for an officer or another member to testify during a bill hearing That is often a new experience for many of us and can be a little intimidating because none of us want to say the wrong thing They work with the individual to develop a testimony and work alongside them throughout the process Legislators appreciate hearing from producers who are directly affected by proposed legislation� SDCA is making an intentional effort to have more SDCA members present and involved in the upcoming legislative session. If you are interested in the process and want to spend a few hours meeting legislators, please let the office know and they will be there to guide you around and introduce you�

While I have no doubts about the effectiveness of our lobbyists, our advocacy is far more effective if the legislators can put a face on whom a bill may affect. If you are unable to get to Pierre, there are other strategies to accomplish SDCA’s mission such as attending your local cracker barrels and making an effort to connect with your local legislators� We elect them to represent us, but they need to know our position on an issue to accurately represent us� Having experienced this process the last few years, I cannot overstate the benefits of having a relationship with them. It can be a little frustrating when your legislator doesn’t vote your way after explaining your position, but it is better to try and fail versus not trying at all�

18 Winter 2023

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Senator Erin Tobin

South Dakota Senator Erin Tobin is a nurse practitioner from Winner serving on the Senate Agriculture Natural Resources Committee. Entering her third year representing District 21, Senator Tobin talks about health care in rural communities and the importance of making connections�

SDCA: Tell us about your background?

Sen. Tobin: I grew up on a cattle ranch, the youngest of 3 kids. I attended South Dakota State University to become a nurse practitioner� We moved back to South Dakota nine years ago, and while we no longer have cattle, agriculture is something that has been important to me and is always in the background working in a rural community When serving farm and ranch patients who come through the door of the clinic trying to take care of a medical issue during harvest or calving season, I understand where they are coming from and can help them figure out their healthcare plan while they take care of the operation at home�

SDCA: What inspired you to go into public service and run for the state legislature?

Sen. Tobin: I have always wanted to be involved in the process and communicate with my own legislators about healthcare issues. I went to Pierre to lobby on a few bills related to nurse practitioners and I had an opportunity to understand how the process actually worked That opportunity gave me some faith in the legislative process. A few years, later I attended a town hall and voiced my opinion on a controversial bill. Shortly thereafter, I was encouraged by many people in my community to run for office.

SDCA: There are many new legislators from urban districts, how do you as a legislator from a rural district educate your peers about agricultural issues?

Sen. Tobin: I feel like it’s my role to communicate to other state legislators and help them understand complex ag issues

It can be difficult when we are in an agricultural state, but we are seeing more and more legislators from urban districts while rural districts have less representation

When issues that impact agriculture arise, it makes us make our voices louder

SDCA: How can groups like SDCA and our members assist our elected leaders in their decision making?

Sen. Tobin: We are surrounded by lobbyists for the 40 legislative days that we are in Pierre. Especially as a new senator, there are times you are getting so much information that you rely on the relationships you build in and out of session with lobbyists to educate yourself on the issues "That being said, the most valuable interaction a legislator is trying to become educated on an issue is when the organization members and their families - people that are working the land, raising the cattle- meet with their legislator and put a face to the issue�"

The questions that come from that type of interaction are really organic and when I see legislators meeting in that fashion it seems so much more valuable that being approached by a lobbyist for a quick elevator speech. So, I would encourage members to make it to Pierre to meet their district representatives but also to ask if there are other legislators that would like to learn about their issues. I know it is difficult to get away, especially during calving season, but if you can come up to visit I would love to meet and have more of those interactions

SDCA: What are your goals for the 2023 session?

Sen. Tobin: Eminent domain law to put more power to the landowners in regard to the land, foreign ownership of ag land , and access for healthcare in rural communities including funds for scholarships for mental health providers to help people deal with the day to day issues

20 Winter 2023 * * Legislative Profile:
" the most valuable interaction is when the organization members meet with their legislator and put a face to the issue�"
The South Dakota Cattleman 21 2023 Senate
Ag Natural Resources Committee
Randy Deibert | District 31 Vice Chair Joshua Klumb District 20 Liz Larson District 10
*New Member
* * *New Member
Jim Mehlhaff District 24

From the Saddle

Representative Will Mortenson was recently elected by his peers to serve as majority leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives. Will, no stranger to public service and South Dakota politics, brings institutional knowledge to this role as well as industry expertise as a cattle producer himself South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association sat down with Rep. Mortenson to talk about life on and off the ranch, leadership, and what we might expect the 2023 session�

SDCA: When you’re not in the Capitol or practicing law, tell us a little about your role on the ranch�

Rep. Mortenson: We run a cow-calf operation of Herford-AngusSimAngus cattle, based in northwestern Stanley County on the Cheyenne River. My uncle, Todd Mortenson, is the boss� He, my cousin, Quinn, and a hired man are on the place full-time. I am a day-labor hand, working about thirty days a year, clustered in the spring (calving-branding-sorting/shipping) and the fall (weaning-vaccinating-preg checking-shipping)� I'm decent on a horse, passable with a rope, and know my way around a calving barn, but I can't claim to be a full-blown rancher�

SDCA: Agriculture runs deep in your family. Why is important for you and your family to stay connected to the operation?

Rep. Mortenson: I'm the fourth generation involved in our operation and my kids will be the 5th�

It’s important to start them early, even if they aren’t much help yet� Keeping an agricultural operation going from generation-to-generation is something I think about a lot - as a hand on our ranch and as an ag business and estate attorney, helping people do succession planning

I've realized that successful continuation of a ranch is as much about the ethics and attitudes that get passed down as it is about the land, corrals, or cattle. In our case, my grandpa, Clarence, instilled a strong ethic of taking care of the land, slowing down the water, and playing the long game on soil and plant health� My dad constantly reminds us that an ag operation exists within a larger commodity ecosystem, and a good business model requires paying attention to the grand scheme� Most importantly for me, though, Todd sets the tone in animal husbandry done the traditional way He insists on ethics of thoroughness and resolve that may be the most important lessons I learned from anyone.

The history of our ranch is important to me� I understand the obligation I owe to the generations that have gone before: to keep improving the land and the facilities, but also to continue the ethics and culture that have been built over decades

SDCA: What lessons have you learned at the ranch that you bring to the state legislature?

22 Winter 2023

to the Statehouse

Rep. Mortenson: Hard work translates. It's a tale familar to all ag producers, but you've just got a leg up when you don't mind wokring long hours� Probably the most useful trait the ranch taught is toughness� We had to be able to take criticism, even if it was maybe not-so-constructive We had to do the job we were assigned, whether we thought it was the best plan or not We had to finish the job, no matter the weather or willingness of the livestock�

In politics and in the law, putting in the hours, taking heat, taking orders, and finishing the job have been my plan of attack They've worked well so far�

SDCA: You worked in politics behind the scenes, what made you decide to run for office yourself?

Rep. Mortenson: In 2019 or so, my son, Augie, was a couple years old and there were some strange things going on in the Legislature. I realized that I was starting the life I'd be living for the next few decades. I could either have a front-row seat to watching the state veer away from our common sense, conservative approach, or I could get involved and try to keep our state functioning as it had for the past several decades Given that I wanted to live here for the rest of my life, I decided to get in the arena and see if I couldn't help our state stay on track. I didn't run with an agenda to change the world. Quite the contrary - I ran to try to keep our state sane.

SDCA: What are your goals for the upcoming session as District 24 Representative and as Majority Leader?

Rep. Mortenson: We'll have a productive session if we maintain fiscal prudence, work through the abortion question without killing each other, and make some strides to improve core services like education, nursing homes, and public safety� As Majority Leader, I'm tasked with keeping sixtythree Republicans working together respectfully and productively We've got one of the most conservative caucuses in the country, and we aim to govern accordingly�

SDCA: How can the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and our members make an impact during session?

Rep. Mortenson: 2023 might be a low-water mark for legislators who work in production agriculture� That is - there's as few actual farmers and cowboys in the Legislature as there has been at any time in our state's history Last year, because of redistricting, Sioux Falls got an additional 1 5 districts (or so), and Rapid City got an additional 0.5 districts (or so). That amounts to fours House seats that shifted from rural representation to urban�

Because there are now fewer of us, we need to work smarter and harder We need to work together more and coordinate among ag groups We need to make clear, reasonable arguments, and remember that we don't just need to convince ourselves, we need to be talking to voters, legislators, and citizens who live in all parts of the state�

The South Dakota Cattleman 23


House Representatives of Ag Natural Resources Committee &

Roger Chase | District 22 Chair Marty Overweg | District 21 Vice Chair Julie Auch District 18 Randy Gross District 25 Trish Ladner District 30 Stephanie Sauder District 4 Lynn Schneider District 22
* *
John Sjaarda District 2

Every Fence Has two sides

It’s easy to find support when talking to a group of entirely like-minded folks, but better law is made when both sides of an issues are heard and understood before passing a bill into law According to State Representative Oren Lesmeister, a cattle producer near Parade, South Dakota, who serves as the House Minority Leader, opponents usually aren’t that far apart once they start talking about an issue. Rep. Lesmeister spoke with SDCA about the importance of debate, educating the public and fellow legislators about South Dakota agriculture, and how to overcome our differences�

SDCA: Tell us a little about what you do when you are not serving in the statehouse?

Rep. Lesmeister: My wife Tracy and I are the third generation to operate a cow/calf and farming operation on land that my greatgrandfather homesteaded over 125 years ago

SDCA: What inspired you to go into public service and run for the state legislature Rep. Lesmeister: Several years ago, I joined several others to go to the Capitol to lobby on a cattle marketing bill. While I was there talking to people I read a few bills that were being passed around. I became interested and got more involved When there was a vacancy in my district, I was encouraged to run for office.

SDCA: There are many new legislators from urban districts, is that a challenge or an opportunity for the ag industry?

Rep. Lesmeister: Absolutely an opportunity� I believe it’s my role to educate the urban legislators about how a bill or law has consequences in the rural areas. I spend a great deal of time during session building relationships with other legislators and trying to be a resource to them on ag issues when they have questions The laws we pass impact more than a single municipality or segment of the population, we are passing laws for the entire state, and we need to understand how everyone impacted�

SDCA: How can groups with different opinions still manage to find a path forward together?

Rep. Lesmeister: Surprisingly we are not that far apar much of the time� When you sit down and have a conversation, you find the common ground and work from there That leads to building good relationships There are 40 new legislators this session and building those relationships will be key to finding common ground and getting things done on both sides of the aisle

SDCA: How can groups like SDCA and our members assist our elected leaders in their decision making?

Lesmeister: A lot of times you can’t know everything that is going on and you rely on the lobbyists to let you know what is going on The biggest thing is full transparency and honesty - that is huge When a lobbyist breaks your trust that is hard to get back� As legislators we have to educate ourselves, seek out and talk to the lobbyists and ask questions- because the one piece of information they give you might be the one thing that decides how I vote on a bill. When I go back to my district, to coffees or cracker barrels, it's full transparency for me too, and to share the information about what is going on at session and tell them the full story, not just the headlines they hear on the news�

SDCA: What are your goals for the 2023 session?

Rep. Lesmeister: With new leadership in the House and Senate and so many new legislators, the biggest goal is to communicate, build strong relationships, and avoid divisive issues that tear us apart I also look forward to working with the House Majority Leader. Will and I have a good working relationship and we have a personal relationship from knowing him and his family, which will help tremendously At the end of the day the goal is to do what is best for South Dakota

25 * * Representative Oren Lesmeister Legislative Profile:

Your Beef Checkoff Dollars at Work

Your Beef Checkoff Dollars at Work

As the winter months are in full swing and the new year approaches, the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) is preparing and planning programs and events to drive the demand for beef through research, promotion and education.

SDBIC Welcomes New SDBIC Executive Director

The SDBIC recently announced Jodie Anderson as the new Executive Director. Anderson assumed her new role on November 1, 2022. Anderson is a first-generation South Dakotan from a ranch in Haakon County and now co-owns the family ranch in western South Dakota and Texas with her sister, Janna Reeves. She earned her B.S. in Agricultural Business from Colorado State University then lived and worked in several western states before returning to South Dakota. Formerly, Jodie served as the Executive Director of the SD Cattlemen’s Association for 16 years. She lives in Pierre with her daughter Quinn.

“Home for the Holidays with Beef” Campaign

The SDBIC worked with SD retailers in their latest holiday campaign titled “Home for the Holidays with Beef.” This campaign provided toolkits for consumers that highlighted the versatility and simplicity of beef. This holiday promotion included the opportunity for Beef consumers to win $500, $300, or $200 in Beef Bucks, along with beef recipes to fit anyone’s budget.

South Dakota Jr. Beef Ambassadors helped promote beef in this year’s holiday campaign by recording holiday greetings for local radio stations, thanking consumers for choosing BEEF this holiday season.

Consumers also had several chances to win beef swag on the SDBIC social media Facebook and learn great beef tips, tricks, and recipes through the “Home for the Holiday’s with Beef” campaign at

SDBIC Board Meeting

The SDBIC Board of Directors met in Fort Pierre on December 7, 2022, for their quarterly board meeting. In addition to seating six new directors at this first meeting of the new SDBIC year, the meeting provided a valuable opportunity for beef producers to network with their peers and gain understanding of the beef checkoff.

The Board also made decisions about investing the $1 Beef Checkoff in projects and programs to help drive the demand for beef in South Dakota and around the United States.

26 Winter 2023

South Dakota Beef explores Europe with United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF)

South Dakota was well represented on the latest USMEF trip to Europe last October. Federation Director, Becky Walth, SDBIC Board Director, David Reis and USMEF Director, Jared Knock represented South Dakota on the recent travels abroad.

USMEF, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, gave directors the opportunity to travel to Europe and meet with several importers, toured the Phillips Wagyu Ranch, and attended the SIAL Paris Trade Show. The SIAL Paris Trade Show

their Build Your Base experiences. They also travelled around the state, visiting several area schools, and talking to students and athletes about using BEEF in their diet. Learn more about the Build Your Base program at

2022 South Dakota Cattlemen's Convention & Trade Show

The SDBIC was also present at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) convention and trade show in Pierre December 12-13, 2022. In addition to having a trade show booth, SDBIC sponsored the Best of Beef Happy Hour on December 12, 2022. SDBIC President and Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) Representative Veabea Thomas spoke with the group about the roles of the CBB, the federation and the checkoff.

is one of the largest food shows in the world and many exporter members were in attendance.

2022 South Dakota Stockgrowers Convention

The SDBIC attended this year's South Dakota Stockgrowers Convention in Spearfish, November 3-4, 2022. This was a fantastic opportunity for the SDBIC team to talk with Beef Producers about their $1 Beef Checkoff. SDBIC Creative Services Manager, Merretta Anderson attended this year’s convention and remarked, "SDBIC was excited to be a part of the SD Stockgrowers Convention Trade Show. As always it is a great opportunity to visit with producers from across the state and listen to their beef story as well as share how the Beef Checkoff is working within our state and beyond."

Build Your Base

The Build Your Base program continues its growth as new partner states come on board. A state training took place in Sioux Falls on December 5, 2022, to coincide with the Build Your Base Olympians’ visit to South Dakota that week. Build Your Base Olympians stopped in Fort Pierre for the Quarterly SDBIC meeting on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, to provide an update on the program and share

Monument Health Cardiovascular Disease & Wellness Symposium

The SDBIC sponsored a booth at the annual Monument Health Cardiovascular Disease & Wellness Symposium in Rapid City, SD on October 20, 2022. This was the first time the conference was held in person since the beginning of the pandemic. The conference draws healthcare providers and students from both in and outside the state with about 175 in-person attendees and 120 online. SDBIC nutrition educational materials regarding beef and cardiovascular health were well received along with great conversations regarding current research.

The South Dakota Cattleman 27

While we would have loved to have each and every one of you attend the 74th Annual Convention in-person, we understand that mother nature had other plans� SDCA was able to partner with Feeding South Dakota to donate the steak that we had planned to serve at the Cattlemen's Banquet This donation on behalf of SDCA and members offered a way to pay it forward while promoting nutritious beef�

28 Winter 2023


You did it!

The South Dakota Cattleman 29
Help the Chick Get to the Hen!
Mini Maze

SDCA Affiliate Contacts

The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association is the unified voice for cattle producers. SDCA provides a voice for cattlemen on all issues affecting your business and profitability.


To advance the interests of South Dakota Cattlemen through representation and promotion of the beef industry.


To be an organization where members can work together to protect their interests; seek solutions to industry problems; provide a unified voice, and to build the good will, esteem, and recognition the industry deserves.

SDCA advocates for producers in:

• State & National Lobbying

• Policy Development

• Marketing, Trade, and Environmental Issues

• Beef Promotion & Research

Your SDCA membership includes membership in your local affiliate. As a member, you can stay informed about the issues affecting your area and set policy direction on cattle industry issues at the annual convention.

Black Hills: Britton Blair, Vale • 605-347-0426 •

Central: Scott Slepikas, Huron • 605-354-1870 • slepikasfarm@gmail. com.

Clark Hamlin: Chance Popham, Hayti • 605-783-3285 • spopham88@

Dakota Southern: Keith Dvoracek, Tabor • 605-661-4981 •

Davison-Hanson: Calli Williams, Letcher • 605-695-1990 •

East Central: Andy Dupraz, White • 605-629-3859 •

Kingsbury: Nick Wilkinson, Lake Preston• 605-203-0711 •

McCook-Miner-Lake: John Morse, Madison • 605-256-9863 •

Northeast: Nancy Johnson, Milbank • 605-432-5600 •

North Central: Vacant

Northern Oahe: Jay Jones, Trail City • 605-845-3082 •

Sioux Basin: Kelly Lyons, Garretson • 605-366-0791 •

South Central: Kent Geppert, Kimball • 605-778-6227 •

West Central: Matt Jones, Midland • 605-843-2066 •

30 Winter 2023
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32 Winter 2023
Keep up to date with the SDCA and the 98 th Legislative Session Sign-up to receive the weekly legislative update at