Page 1

Volume XCVI, NO. 10

Huron, SD

Dec. 2013

South Dakota


Fall Conference PAGE 8

Make-A-Wish Kelly Melius Profile PAGE 4


SDFU Fall Conference – Understanding Health Care, Electing NFU Delegates & Celebrating the Grand Opening A crowd of Farmers Union members turned out for the November 14 Fall Conference held in Huron at the Crossroads Hotel and Huron Event Center. During the one-day event members learned how the Affordable Care Act will impact South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, elected delegates to the Farmers Union National Convention March 2014 in Santa Fe, N.M., participated in the ribbon cutting for the new Farmers Union office complex and much more! Delegates elected to attend the 2014 National Convention include: Jim Wahle, McCook County, Jim Burg, Jerauld County, Paul Dennert, Brown County and Garret Bischoff, Beadle County. Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of our new location. (Photo Credit: Huron Plainsman)


Understanding the Affordable Care Act Q&A

One thing is certain about the Affordable Care Act – it can be confusing, said Kim Jones, with the South Dakota Navigator Coalition, during a November 14th panel discussion hosted by South Dakota Farmers Union during their fall conference in Huron. “It can be confusing even to people who have studied up on it,” said Jones, who as a Navigator, is one of 17 individuals in the state trained to help elevate confusion and guide South Dakotans through the process. Farmers Union brought Jones and other South Dakota’s health insurance industry experts together for a panel discussion to visit about the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on individuals and families throughout the state. The panel offered their insight and answered several questions. “As advocates for South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, we saw this as a good opportunity to provide first-hand information to our members,” said SDFU President, Doug Sombke. Along with Jones, the panel included: Erik Nelson with South Dakota AARP; Jennie Nickles with Sanford Health and Warren Graber with Graber & Associates Insurance, Inc. See Q&A Page 10

Young Producers Conference Provides Industry Insights & Networking Opportunities South Dakota Famers Union will host the 2014 Young Producers Conference in Deadwood January 31st-February 1st at The Lodge Casino Resort. Free and open to members who are 40 and younger, this two-day conference provides South Dakota’s young farmers and ranchers with an opportunity to glean insight from industry leaders, says Erin Wilcox, SDFU Rural Development Director. “We’ve brought together a lineup of experts to visit about a variety of relevant issues and topics on the minds of South Dakota’s crop and livestock producers from both sides of the state,” she says. “This conference will also provide producers with an excellent opportunity to network.”


Union Farmer From the President...

As I pondered what to focus my article on this month, everything SDFU policy addresses in today’s headlines came to mind; Farm bill, healthcare for every American citizen, COOL, Ethanol, equality representation in government, immigration reform. Even some issues we don’t directly address in policy like; agricultures direct and indirect affects of green house gas (GHG) Doug Sombke emissions and Governor SDFU President Duagaard’s request for help addressing pheasant and other wildlife habitat restoration, EB-5 program in South Dakota and it’s relationship to Northern Beef Plant in Aberdeen and other businesses in our state - just to name a few. All important issues of our day needing our attention, yet there is only so much one organization can do addressing them. When I am overwhelmed, a favorite Bible verse comes to mind. Psalms 50:15 (God said) “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Today our state and nation are going through an extremely tough test of the moral fabric which makes us who we are. Similar to the test we faced during the Great Depression and World War II. This reminds me of a story from WWII I’d like to share with you today. It was 1944 and things were not going well for American foot soldiers and our Air Force. Rains caused travel for tanks

and soldiers to be difficult. Fog limited bomber’s ability to find targets. General Patton feared a German major offensive at anytime. So he did what any Christian facing difficulty would do, he counseled Army Chaplain Monsignor James O’Neill who wrote what today is known as Patton’s Prayer. Patton had 250,000 copies of the prayer printed and distributed to every soldier in the Third Army. By December 14th the cards had been distributed and on December 16th as Patton had feared, the Germans broke through American lines poised for victory. On December 20th, six days after the prayer cards were handed out, the rain stopped, the fog lifted, the ground dried, tanks began to roll. During Christmas week thousands of Air Force bombings were made and the Nazi push was stopped. I’m certain we all have similar stories relating to this on a personal base during troubling times we faced. During this time of Holiday celebration we may feel even more overwhelmed by them. I encourage you to do as General Patton did, pray while remembering we are only an instrument during our time on this earth. Everyone has a talent or gift from God to make time here better for all. If we use our talents wisely in order to leave things better than we found them. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! God bless all you do,

South Dakota

Union Farmer A PUBLICATION OF SOUTH DAKOTA FARMERS UNION South Dakota Union Farmer, ISSN 0745-8797, publishes ten times per calendar year, with issues printed in January, February, March, April, May/June, July, August, Sept/Oct, November, and December. Copies are available for $3.00 per year (included with membership dues), and non-members annual subscription is $7.50. Advertising rate is $6.00/column inch. Periodical postage paid at Mitchell, S.D. POSTMASTER: Address changes to: SDFU, PO Box 1388, Huron, S.D. 57350-1388

Contact SDFU 888.734.8136


1410 Dakota Avenue South, PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350

SDFU State Office Staff

Karla Hofhenke.......ext. 114 Executive Director Huron

Luanne Thompson.....ext. 111 Administrative Assistant Virgil

Mike Traxinger........ext. 112 Legislative Director Claremont

Kelsey Schnetzer........ext. 116 Membership Director Wolsey

Bonnie Geyer..............ext. 125 Education Director Huron

Erin Wilcox................ext. 118 Rural Development Director Huron

SDFU Board of Directors Doug Sombke.........President Groton

Wayne Soren..........Vice Pres. Lake Preston Terry Sestak...........District I Tabor Jim Wahle..............District II Salem Franklin Olson.....District III Pierpont

Contact NFU

Joel Keierleber.......District IV Colome Dallis Basel..............District V Union Center Lynn Frey...............District VI Lemmon Chad Johnson.......District VII Groton

National Farmers Union 20 F Street NW Suite 300 Washington, DC 20001

Roger Johnson, President ~ Claudia Svarstad, Vice President Doug Peterson, Secretary ~ Don Teske, Treasurer 202.554.1600

Farmers Union Members get

20% OFF


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Double D

Western Wear & Tack 800 21st St., Huron, SD Please present this coupon with your purchase * Excludes all boots, men’s jeans and tack


Dec. 2013

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Union Farmer

Life & Logic Behind Common Sense Manufacturing

Growing up, Kelly Melius, 47, and his siblings were well aware of their dad’s “Rules to Live By.” Looking back, Melius says he basically followed them all. “Based on dad’s life experience, he said that we should not get married until we were 25. We shouldn’t have kids until we were 27. We should all have some form of education after high school; and, we all needed to live somewhere else for at least a year before returning to our hometown,” Melius recites. “As luck would have it I followed every rule.” Today, the father of five, farmer, entrepreneur and Faulk County Farmers Union President has lived long enough to compose his own list. And, more than likely, one of his rules would be, “if you want to start your own business, be ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life … and that’s coming from a farmer.” This piece of advice is his frequent response to budding entrepreneurs who ask the owner of Common Sense Manufacturing for start-up advice. Common Sense Manufacturing is a wholesale manufacturer of superior quality livestock equipment – bale feeder, wire winder, continuous fencing, feed bunks, calf shelters, wind breaks and a new solar division. The Faulkton-based company has 20 employees and sells its products to farm supply retailers across the region; retailers like Cammack Ranch Supply, Runnings Fleet & Farm, Campbell’s Supply and agriculture cooperatives. When Melius started the business, he was farming fulltime and almost broke. “The farm Kelly Melius is the Faulk County Farmers Union President was at a point where it wasn’t making money. We could barely afford to make the machinery and owner of Common Sense Manufacturing, a wholesale manufacturer of superior quality livestock equipment in payments. Our family was living off my wife, Faulkton, S.D. Dawn’s income,” Melius explains. His situation was the result of losing about one-third of the crop acres he’d been renting, when This bale feeder was Kelly Melius first product. Today, Common Sense Manufacturing markets – bale feeder, the landlord enrolled the acres in CRP. And, at the time, his 2,000-head feedlot and 385-head cow/ wire winder, continuous fencing, bunk feeder, calf shelters calf herd were barely breaking even. and wind breaks. The Faulkton-based company has 20 “I knew things could not keep going the way they were.” employees and sells its products to farm supply retailers These circumstances motivated Melius to launch a business he and a friend, who was a local across the region. welder, had been thinking about. Together they had designed a heavy duty bale feeder unlike any other on the market. “The day I found out that I’d lost one-third of my acres, I stopped by his shop and asked for a job, but he suggested that instead of working for him, we should go into business together,” Melius says of the short conversation that launched Common Sense Manufacturing. “He wasn’t a people Kelly Melius learned about Farmers Union person and I am. So, he said he’d take care of the manufacturing and I could take care of marketfrom his wife, Dawn. At the time, she was a ing the product.” Farmers Union insurance agent and invited Although it sounds like a quick start, Melius had to overcome a few more roadblocks before the him to join her when she attended the State business took off. His partner passed away from a massive heart attack the day before their first ad Convention. From the start, Kelly says he was was scheduled to run in Farm Forum. impressed with Farmers Union’s focus on rural A few months after Bill Keldson’s passing, his widow approached Melius and suggested that youth. he buy her out and start the business; she said, ‘why don’t you buy the equipment from me and I’ll “I grew up with a 4-H background and liked sign over the rights so you can do this.’ I thought, ‘why not?’” the fact that Farmers Union youth programs Farming all his life, except for the four-year break he took to attend electrician school and work taught kids about leadership, cooperatives and in Minneapolis (remember, dad’s Rules to Live By?); before he lost farmground, Melius thought farm safety. I wanted to bring these programs farming would be his life-long career. “All I ever wanted to do is farm. Growing up, I loved watchto Faulkton,” says Kelly of the interest that ing baby calves grow and driving tractor.” led to him serving as Faulk County President. He got his start when a farm near his dad’s came up for sale. Starting out, he did electrical “At the time we were farming fulltime and had work on the side and formed a partnership with his dad, Roger. Twelve years in, Melius had built young kids.” up quite the operation before losing more than 1,000 acres of cropland. He was in the middle of Although his is not as involved today as he harvest when he started Common Sense Manufacturing. once was, Farmers Union Youth Day Camps “I would get done combining at night, go home, eat supper in the shop and build a bale feeder continue to attract 70-plus Faulk County youth before going to bed. Then I would get up in the morning and build another bale feeder before geteach summer. ting into the combine,” he said. “I learned I could live on about three to four hours of sleep if I had “This is valuable programming. It makes to.” rural youth aware of the fact that there are opFrom the beginning, farmers liked Melius’ product. “After placing the first ad, I think I’ve been portunities for the in agriculture.” See KELLY MELIUS Page 11


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Dec. 2013


Union Farmer

Together We Can Grant a Wish For a Child In Need

Krueger explains. On average a wish costs between $5,000 and Since it began in South Dakota in 1984, Make“Like Farmer’s Union, we’re a very grass roots $7,000. Make-A-Wish ensures that when it’s apA-Wish has granted more than 1,060 wishes to chilplicable, the child, his or her parents and immediate dren with life-threatening medical conditions across organization. We work with more than 200 volunteers throughout the state who help ensure that every siblings living at home are part of the wish. the state. Nineteen years ago one of those wishes child, no matter where they live who is referred to “When a child chooses travel, we cover all went to Tanya Hofhenke, our Executive Director, us and is eligible can have their wish granted.” expenses for the entire family because as anyone Karla Hofhenke’s, daughter. Children can be referred by any medical profeswho has had a child who is sick knows, the lives of “I credit Make-A-Wish for saving her life,” says sional, a parent or guardian or can refer themselves the entire family are turned upside down,” Krueger Hofhenke. to Make-A-Wish. Once they are referred, Make-Aexplains. At the time Tanya was only 14 and had been Wish confirms with their doctor that their condition Hofhenke can relate. diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia. “Tanya’s wish was to go to Hawaii, “She was out of town attending a FBLA so our entire family went to Hawaii with Convention when I got a call from one of her. It was fantastic to see how much she the chaperones asking permission to take and our other kids enjoyed the trip. TanTanya to the Emergency room because she ya’s sickness impacted our entire family. was having trouble breathing,” recalls Karla There were a lot of things the other kids of how the scary journey began. couldn’t do because ‘Mom was in Sioux It was about four months later and Tanya Falls with Tanya,’ while she received was undergoing treatments when someone treatment,’” Hofhenke says. referred her to Make-A-Wish. Since Tanya Tanya ended up beating her cancer, loved the idea of traveling and also had a she has been diagnosed as cured and is fascination for dolphins she chose a trip to cancer free. Today at 34 she works as Hawaii for her wish. an Accountant in Kimball. Tanya, along “She had a great attitude, but the prognowith her younger sister, Lacey and their sis was not looking good. Her wish gave her Mom, have all given back to Makesomething to reach for,” Hofhenke says. A-Wish by becoming Wish Granters Although the doctor wanted her to go themselves. on her Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii within the month due to her poor prognosis, Tanya You can make said she didn’t want to magic happen go until her treatments were over. This year South “The wish helped Dakota Farmers Union her get through treatwants to grant a wish. ments, she spent the With your help, we next 5 months working hope to raise $5,000. almost daily with her There will be an opwish granter on the portunity to give at many details. She had every Farmers Union almost as much fun event held this year, but In 1994 at 14, Tanya Hofhenke was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish organiztion after she had been with the planning as she did members can contribute a taxwith the actual trip,” Hofhenke diagnosed with acute Lymphatic Leukemia. These are photos from her Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii. deductible donation anytime. says. Hofhenke encourages county and district organizais life-threatening and meets their criteria, once this This is the magic of wishes, says Paul Krueger, tions to hold small fundraisers. is confirmed they work with the child to discover president and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota. To give, make a check out to South Dakota what their wish is and then grant it. Wishes can “Wishes give kids something to look forward to. Farmers Union and write “Make-A-Wish” in the be anything from travel and meeting a celebrity to We believe that wishes are a necessity to help kids memo line. Send the check to PO Box 1388, Huron, get better,” he explains, referencing a study conduct- receiving a specific item – like a Rainbow Play Sta- SD, 57350. If you want to schedule a fundraiser in ed by the National Make-A-Wish Foundation which tion - or being a Popstar for a day. your county contact our office. “You name it – the kids will think of it,” Krueger shows that children who are granted wishes respond To learn more about Make-A-Wish South Dakota better to treatments and have a more willing attitude explains. visit, Making magic happen for children isn’t cheap. to go through life-saving treatments. “There is nothing medical about wishes, but there is something magical about granting a child’s heart-felt wish.” Because of generous donations from South Dakotans like you, Krueger and his team are able to • A prescription discount card, saving you up to 20% at major pharmacies—at no cost grant a wish to every eligible child in the state. Chil• Save up to 80% on office and school supplies from Office Depot (free shipping on orders over $50) dren who are between the ages of two-and-a-half • Savings on wireless cell phones from Verizon, T-Mobile, Spring, Alltel and eighteen and diagnosed with a life-threatening • Save 10% off LifeLock Identity Theft protection medical condition which is progressive, degenerative or malignant – a condition placing their life in jeopardy at the time of referral – may qualify,

EXCITING MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS! Visit for more information


Dec. 2013

Union Farmer

Union Farmer

By NFU President Roger Johnson

Farm Bill Conference Process Ongoing Even though it’s been more than three weeks since the first open meeting of the farm bill conference committee, the process of finding a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill continues. Conferees’ staff are meeting regularly and discussions among the members of Congress on the committee Roger Johnson are commonplace. Reports from the Hill say that several titles of the farm bill have been negotiated, including conservation programs, credit, research and horticulture. Other parts of the bill that are considered relatively non-controversial will likely be discussed in a similar way. On the other hand, public battles are being fought on more hot-button topics. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) is the hottest topic in the farm bill in recent weeks. As NFU and allies warned, the study language on COOL in the House Farm Bill is a Trojan horse. Instead of calling for further research into how COOL will comply with World Trade Organization obligations, COOL opponents are using the provision to interject the idea of repealing or weakening the COOL statute. NFU and our allies are fighting back to defend COOL. It is now more important than ever that all Farmers Union members tell their Senators and Representatives why consumers have the right to know about the origins of their food. Negotiations over commodity programs are also a big issue among the farm bill conferees. NFU largely favors the House’s version of the farm safety net, which includes fixed target prices to provide protection from long-term price collapse, although efforts to strike a deal are underway. The level of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) remains the biggest piece of the puzzle. Once a compromise number is found – between the $4 billion cut

in the Senate and the $40 billion in the House – the passage of a final bill becomes plausible and other issues like COOL and commodity programs may be quickly resolved. Because of this uncertain timeline, it’s important for NFU to keep the pressure on to support our farm bill priorities.

portion of the cost of a meal the farmer receives. NFU Communications Director Melisa Augusto was also at the convention as a part of the Ag Communications Career Development Event (CDE) committee. The CDEs are a way for the FFA members to get real experience and training for future careers through competition.

NFU Meets Students, Advisors at the National FFA Convention

Join the Conversation Online

At the end of October, more than 50,000 people were in Louisville, Ky., for the National FFA Convention. NFU had a booth where NFU Education Director Maria Miller, NFU Government Relations Representative Mike Stranz, and several volunteers from Indiana Farmers Union talked to students, teachers and others about the work that Farmers Union is doing in education, legislation and cooperation. A highlight of the booth was the Farmer’s Share game, where participants were challenged to estimate what

Union Farmer

As social media becomes more and more widely used, we encourage you to join Farmers Union online on Facebook, Twitter and our blog. You can find us on Facebook at https://, where we post updates, pictures and more. You can find the latest headlines and other activities as they happen on Twitter by following us @ NFUDC. And finally, you can take a part in the conversation on our blog, a sounding board for so many topics, at See you online!

Dec. 2013


Union Farmer Legislative News

By Mike Traxinger Legislative Director

There have been attempts over the last few years to make the inhumane treatment of animals a felony in South Dakota. The latest attempt was made during the 2013 legislative session. At that time, North Dakota and South Dakota were the only states in the U.S. that did not have a felony penalty for animal cruelty. Today, South Dakota is the only state. With this in mind, Chairwoman Shantel Krebs requested S.D. State Veterinarian Dr. Oedekoven determine if a compromise could be reached. Dr. Oedekoven has drafted legislation for the 2014 legislative session with significant input from SDFU. The draft legislation would add a felony penalty, but only for the intentional, willful, and malicious act of mistreatment, torture, cruelty, mutilation or inhumane slaughter of an animal We have heard from many farmers and ranchers and one fear is that someone could potentially view a customary agricultural practice and believe it to be inhumane treatment. For this reason, SDFU has been advocating for adding a section on exemptions. In the draft, the following would be exempt from the law: any animal under the direct and proper care of licensed veterinarian; any usual and customary practice in the production of food, feed, fiber or ornament including all aspect of the livestock industry, in the boarding, breeding, competition, exhibition, feeding, raising, service work, showing, training, transportation, and use of animals, in the harvesting of animals for food or byproducts; humane killing of an animal; lawful hunting, trapping, fishing, or other activity authorized by the SD Department of Game, Fish and Parks; lawful pest, vermin, predator, and animal control, including the disposition of wild animals; any action taken by an individual for the destruction or control of an animal known to be dangerous, a threat, or injurious to life, limb, or property; actions taken by personnel or agents of the Board, the SD Department of Agriculture, or the USDA, in the performance of duties prescribed by law. This draft legislation will most likely be brought up during the 2014 legislative session. SDFU continues to seek input from its members and looks forward your thoughts and comments. You can reach me at or at 605-377-4110.


Dec. 2013

Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Update

Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) has been in the news quite a bit recently, following the Canadian Agriculture Minister’s claims that he thought the law would be repealed, as well as several negative comments made during the opening discussions of the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee. Fortunately, NFU and its allies have been working to dispel the myths and misinformation that have been spread by the packer-producer organizations and their foreign counterparts. Recently, a group of consumer organizations sent the conferees a letter highlighting the support of consumers and their demand to know where the food they bring home to their families is produced. But now is truly the time for our members to get involved. This is an important time in the fight to defend Country-of-Origin Labeling. COOL opponents on the farm bill conference committee are leading an effort to use the farm bill to repeal the law entirely. Farm bill conferees will be solidifying their positions and working out differences as we speak, meaning that the time for action is NOW! This is nothing more than an attempt by COOL opponents to scare Congress into premature and unwarranted legislative action because they see the writing on the wall: meatpackers’ chances of winning COOL challenges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in court are slim. Now more than ever, we need your help to protect American farmers, ranchers and consumers and keep this common-sense law in place! Here are two things you can do to help keep COOL: • Contact your Senators and Representative, or members of the farm bill conference committee, and tell them that you strongly support COOL and oppose any legislative changes to the COOL law. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for a specific member’s office; and • Donate to the COOL Legal Defense Fund at to help Farmers Union defend this pro-farmer and -rancher law from a legal attack by the same multinational packers and processors who are pushing for legislative changes to the law.

2014 South Dakota State Rail Plan

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has hired Cambridge Systematics and Civil Design, Inc to create a State Rail Plan for State of South Dakota. The 2014 South Dakota State Rail Plan will address a broad spectrum of rail issues, including identification of the State’s freight and passenger rail objectives and plans, an inventory of the rail system’s transportation infrastructure, analysis of rail-related economic, safety and environmental impacts, articulation of the State’s policies governing investment in both passenger and freight rail (particularly when this involves cooperative investment in privately owned elements of the rail system), and establishment of a long-range investment program and policies for current and future passenger and freight rail infrastructure throughout the State. In accordance with FRA guidance the State Rail Plan will identify and outline 5- and 20-year plans and set the stage for a continuation of all of the work underway across the State. It is anticipated that the 5-year plan (2019) will identify specific projects, whereas the 20-year program will identify some projects already on rail stakeholder radars, but will primarily focus on programmatic recommendations. The SRP will adhere to any state rail planning guidance to be issued by the FRA during the development timeframe, in addition to PRIIA and other relevant guidance. Throughout the State Rail Plan development process the Advisory Committee will hear from various industry stakeholders including freight and passenger rail owners and operators, governmental and non-governmental entities (including munici-

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palities), the general public, elected officials, and interest groups will be consulted and coordinated with in order to produce a long-range strategic rail plan that fosters growth throughout the State’s rail network. The final product will be a document that SDDOT will utilize to spur economic activity and to prioritize numerous advancements in the State’s rail transportation network. The first public meetings were held the week of November 17th. This information has been pulled from the South Dakota DOT webpage. For more information on this topic, visit If you have any questions or concerns about this plan, please contact Mike Traxinger, Legislative Director, 605-3774110.

In the market for a vehicle? Farmers Union members get

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Prostrollo’s in Huron Schoenhard’s Ford, Huron Call 605-352-6761 ext. 118 for more details

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Young Producers: Registration and Agenda (continued from page 1)

As the average age of South Dakota producers continues to increase, Farmers Union sees this conference as an opportunity to provide much needed information and support to the new generation of producers, says President Doug Sombke. “This program is designed as a resource for young producers who are starting out because these producers may not have access to the same resources as the more established farmer or rancher,” Sombke says. Space is limited, so registration is necessary. Register by contacting Wilcox by January 24th, ewilcox@ or 605-352-6761 ext. 118. Farmers Union is covering lodging and meal expenses. “We want anyone who is interested to be able to attend this conference,” Wilcox explains. Conference speaker and presenter lineup includes: motivational speakers, Malcom Chapman and Ryan Taylor; South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture, Lucas Lentsch; South Dakota State Veterinarian, Dustin Odekoven; Marketing Specialist, Duwayne Bosse; representatives from Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency and Instructor for South Dakota Center for Farm Ranch Management at Mitchell Technical Institute, David Koupal.

The Challenge is On! District 3 is challenging other South Dakota Farmers Union Districts throughout South Dakota to donate to the Ranchers Relief Fund. Franklin Olson, Dist. 3 President is pictured here handing Wayne Soren, SDFU State Vice President a $500 check from his district for the Rancher Relief Fund. To participate in this challenge, send your Rancher Relief checks into the State Farmers Union office, PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350 by January 1, 2014

Black Hills Forest Landowners Reporting Sprayed Trees Lost To Mountain Pine Beetles PIERRE, S.D. – Landowners who had their pine trees sprayed this year to protect them from mountain pine beetle may be finding small masses of pitch along the trunks of these trees; evidence of a successful attack. “We have received calls from landowners about the failure of spraying to protect their trees,” says Ray Sowers, state forester for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA). “Some landowners that had dozens to hundreds of trees sprayed by commercial services have reported tree losses from mountain pine beetle attack at anywhere from 20 to 60 percent or more, much higher than we have seen in the past.” Pine trees are sprayed in the spring and early summer to protect the tree from attack by the mountain pine beetle. These are preventative measures as once the beetles infest a tree there are no treatments that can save it. Spraying has become a popular treatment option for landowners to protect their high value trees with more trees being sprayed each year. “We have also seen an increase in the number of companies, both from within the area and from out of state, offering this service,” says Sowers. “And with increased competition among companies, the price for treating a tree has decreased substantially during the past few years.” It may be dropping too low. The price being offered to treat trees by some companies is approaching the cost of the pesticides needed to protect the tree. “We sampled a number of trees that were sprayed for mountain pine beetle, but also, successfully attacked,” says Dr. John Ball, forest health specialist with SDDA and forestry specialist with South Dakota State University Extension. “All the trees had detectable spray residue on the bark, but in very low concentrations, not enough to have protected the tree during this past beetle flight.” Some attributed this higher loss to the fact that many landowners had their trees sprayed earlier in the season to protect the pines from the pine engraver beetles as well as the later flying mountain pine beetle. Others have wondered if the spring rains washed the pesticide off the bark. “No,” says Ball. “If the trees were sprayed properly and at the labeled rate, these reported losses should not have occurred. There are many companies that had very few trees lost to the beetle, regardless of when they sprayed this past year.”

Union Farmer

Rural Development News By Erin Wilcox Rural Development Director

The temperature is dropping, a chill is in the air and some snow can be found in parts of the state. Winter has arrived. As the winter season settles in, along with the colder weather and snow it also brings things like; a reason to cook chili (not that I need one), hot chocolate by the fireplace, communities coming together and, not to mention, the Holiday season spent with family!!! Before we settle into winter, let’s quickly recap the fall events which kept things busy for Rural Development. The Jr. REAL Program kicked off its fifth year. The schools involved were; Sanborn Central, Woonsocket, Wessington Springs, Wolsey-Wessington, Hitchcock-Tulare, Mobridge-Pollock, Lake Preston, and De Smet. All of the schools and students were amazing to work with. The program has concluded all of the Jr. REAL for the fall, but there are several events being planned across the state for spring 2014. Is your school involved??? The second session of REAL will meet Jan. 20 - 21 in Pierre. There is a fantastic line up of speakers including John Beranek, Joy Smolnisky and Gloria Schaefer. The group will have an opportunity to meet with their district representatives in the legislature. Representatives from South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources will also address the group. The Young Producers Group Conference will be Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 in Deadwood at The Lodge during the Black Hills Stock Show. The speaker lineup includes: motivational speakers, Malcom Chapman and Ryan Taylor; South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture, Lucas Lentsch; South Dakota State Veterinarian, Dustin Odekoven; Marketing Specialist, Duwayne Bosse; representatives from Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency and Instructor for South Dakota Center for Farm Ranch Management at Mitchell Technical Institute, David Koupal. There will be an amazing wealth of information and resources shared with the group. This will also be a networking opportunity of the Young Producers in attendance. Thanks to everyone that made this fall a success in both REAL Programs!! I hope everyone took something from the programs presented and found a way to implement in your lives and others around you. If you have any questions about any of these programs please contact Erin Wilcox at (605) 352.6761 Ext. 118.

Dec. 2013


Union Farmer

Enjoy More Photos from the Fall Conference November 2013

South Dakota’s Assistant State Veterinarian, Mendel Miller, speaks to members about issues concerning livestock.

Members enjoyed a keynote address from Jim Woster during fall conference luncheon.

Holly Hoffman, former CBS Survivor competitor, a motivational speaker and farmer from Eureka spoke during the Fall Conference.

62-year-old Farmers Union Time Capsule Opened Contents of the time capsule were a brief history of Farmers Union, numberous copies of the Union Farmer, Copies of the Annual Reports, State Convention Programs, a membership card, copy of the “The Last Frontier” and several organization brochures.

Longtime Farmers Union members, Russel and Norma Gantvoort, from Watertown hold up an old news clipping that features their local cooperative that they found while looking through Time Capsule items during the Open House.


Dec. 2013

Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke holds a 1951 copy of “History of South Dakota Farmers Union,” which was among several historical items uncovered when Farmers Union members got to go through the 1951 time capsule which was laid in the cornerstone of our original office when it was constructed in 1951.

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Wayne Soren, SDFU State Vice President, holds a newspaper from the Time Capsule.

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Bonnie Geyer, Education Director, enjoys her new office. This new complex has 18 offices for the staff of Farmers Union and Farmers Union Insurance


L to R: Joel Keierleber, Doug Sombke, Wayne Soren, Jim Wahle, Franklin Olson and Dallis Basel.

Doug Sombke, SDFU President

“We look forward to serving our members for years to come in this new complex.� Doug Sombke, SDFU President

L to R: Erin Wilcox, Rural Development Director; Luanne Thompson, Adminstrative Assistant; Mike Traxinger, Legislative Director; Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director; Bonnie Geyer, Education Director and Kelsey Schnetzer, Membership Director sitting in the new boardroom. (Photo Credit: Huron Plainsman)

Farmers Union Members

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5-20% Off Merchandise! 10% Off Gift Cards! Call Kelsey at 605-352-6761 ext. 116 for your customer number and order over the phone for great discounts!

Luanne Thompson works in the new work room and greets visitors in the new reception area.

Union Farmer

Dec. 2013


Union Farmer

Q&A Understanding the Affordable Care Act & How it Impacts You (continued from page 1)

Question: As a small employer with 50 employees or less if I don’t offer health insurance, will I be penalized?

Read on to learn what these experts had to say: Question: With all the technical difficulties, where can I go for information and insurance options?

Warren Graber Answers: No. Small employers do not have to offer group insurance. In South Dakota I would say Kim Jones Answers: Consider givingthis impacts about three-fourths of all myself or another Navigator a call. You businesses. can find contact information for your With this in mind, if an employee local Navigator online at comes to you and requests that you no Also, I enlonger provide them with insurance, courage you to visit the Kaiser Family the reason is probably because they can Foundation website The site is find a better rate, with subsidies for their very helpful. entire family on the exchange. However, they may not qualify for Question: I received a cancellation the subsidies on the exchange if you as letter from my insurance company, an employer provide them with individwhat does this mean? Warren Graber with Graber & Associates Insurance, Inc. speaks during the Understanding the Affordable Care Act Panel Discussion. Along with Graper, Farmers Union ual insurance that is deemed affordable Warren Graber Answers: Some of brought together Kim Jones with S.D. Navigator Coalition; Erik Nelson with AARP and – 9.5 percent of their W-2 wages. what I’m going to say may change I feel this is an important message Jennie Nickles with Sanford Health. The hour-long panel discussion began with openfollowing the Presidents Nov. 14 ing statements from each panelist briefly explaining how they think the Affordable Care for all small employers to understand – announcement that insurance compaAct will impact South Dakotans and wrapped up with a panelist Q&A. perhaps giving their employees a small nies can keep policies that don’t meet bonus that they can use on the exchange the policy owners to plans that were compliant. As Affordable Care Act standards for the next year. to insure their entire family may be something to we better understand what the President’s announceHowever, as of today, here is what I know. ment means to our policy holders, we will be able to consider. A cancelation letter doesn’t mean you’ll have answer their questions. Question: Because South Dakota opted not to problems buying health insurance. No matter what expand Medicaid coverage, what does this mean? kind of letter you get in the mail, if it has something Question: How are things different with the Affordable Care Act? to do with cancelation or something else, call your Erik Nelson Answers: In South Dakota, 70 percent local insurance representative. of all Medicaid recipients are children and the other Warren Graber Answers: The crucial question Most of them will be up on rules and regula30 percent are seniors or individuals with disabilito ask yourself is, “do I qualify for subsidies or tions. And, typically if you call within 30-60 days of not?” The answer to this question determines if you ties. receiving the cancelation letter your local insurance The Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion need to apply for insurance through an exchange agent can fix things. would expand coverage to those individuals who are or through insurance providers who are outside the exchange. You only receive subsidies by going with at 138 percent or less of federal poverty level. That Jenni Nickles Answers: I agree that things are a is individuals who earn $15,000 a year or a family providers found within the exchange. Whether you little up in the air after the President’s announcewhose combined income is $22,000 a year. In our qualify is based on income, not assets - which may ment. A week ago, we sent out 5,000 cancelations state, 48,500 individuals, 18-64 would have qualiletters because the policies were not compliant with create some challenges for farmers. fied for expanded Medicaid coverage. In South Dakota, the three carriers inside the the Affordable Care Act and we needed to transition Currently, 27 states chose to expand coverage. exchange include; Avera, Sanford and Dakotacare; South Dakota is among those who chose not to Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an example expand coverage. of a provider who decided not to participate in the Currently the federal government pays 55 perexchange – at least during the 2014-2015 year. There are other providers in South Dakota who also cent and the state of South Dakota pays 45 percent of Medicaid coverage. The percentage of Medicaid decided not to participate in the exchange. covered by the federal government is based on the Jenni Nickles Answers: A couple basic things that economic health of the state. have changed when it comes to insurance policies, Join women from across South Dakota in If South Dakota had decided to expand coverage, is that all things are equal. You no longer receive a celebrating rural women by attending the Women the federal government would have covered 100 better rate based on sex or whether or not you have in Blue Jeans event held Jan. 16-17 in Mitchell. percent of the expansion until 2016. After 2016, the preexisting conditions. And, if you’re interested in attending, Farmers federal government agreed to pay 90 percent of the As of January 1, 2014 health insurance compaUnion would like to pay its member’s way by expansion. nies can no longer ask you health related questions. covering the registration fee. The traditional Medicaid program is not imRates can vary based on age and whether or not you Visit the Women in Blue Jeans website, http:// pacted. are a tobacco user., to learn more about Question: If I were drop my current insurance A couple basic things that have changed when it this event. and purchase a policy through the exchange; comes to insurance policies, is all things are equal. For your FREE registration to the event please what would happen if Congress would eliminate You no longer receive a better rate based on sex or contact Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director 605the Affordable Care Act down the road? whether or not you have preexisting conditions. 352-6761 ext:114.

Women in Blue Jeans is January 16-17 in Mitchell


Dec. 2013

Union Farmer

Union Farmer Erik Nelson Answers: No one can answer tha question. However, there is no requirement that you must purchase a plan on the exchange. If you don’t qualify for subsidies then there is no difference in applying for insurance on the exchange or outside the exchange. My best guess would be that you would just move into an individual plan in the private sector. Warren Graber Answers: Let’s talk hypothetically. If everything goes to bed, technically what would happen then is you’ll stay on your current plan until January 1, and if that plan was no longer available then you would have a guaranteed issue window to move over to another carrier without any technical underwriting. Question: I read something on healthcare and how it’s done in other countries around the world and one of the problems is if you have a multitude of various plans covering diff things that adds to the administrative costs both for insurance companies as well as health care providers. With this in mind, how does the Affordable Care Act measure up? Erik Nelson Answers: Whether in the exchange or outside the exchange, the Affordable Care Act ensures that plans are uniform. Jenni Nickles Answers: The new Affordable Care Act plans we designed will have a positive impact for many people. Every plan has core benefits, so when your shopping for a plan, you can compare them side-by-side. The main difference will come down to network providers like Avera or Sanford, versus non-network providers like Dakotacare. A network plan will provide within network solutions whereas out of network plans will work with all providers. Question: What happens if you don’t take any plan?

KELLY MELIUS: RULES TO LIVE BY (continued from page 3)

behind ever since.” Melius grew his business through word-of-mouth, farm shows and newspaper ads. Quality and efficiency, he says, have always been on the forefront of his mind when designing and manufacturing products. “I’d rather apologize because my product costs more than the other guy’s. But, I never want to apologize because it fell apart,” he explains. “Every product we sell was designed to work on my farm.” Although he never imagined his business would be the success that it is today, he admits to always being a “big picture guy.” “I don’t really care about tiny details. I tend to come up with the original idea and say, ‘lets get it done.’ I’m a firm believer in giving the customer a product that they want and need and worrying about the price of that product later.’” Today, Melius’ time is 100 percent focused on Common Sense Manufacturing. He rents his farmground. To learn more about Common Sense Manufacturing visit,

RFS RECENTLY UNDER ATTACK The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has recently been brought into the limelight as a result of an Associated Press story that made strong, misleading arguments against the RFS. The industry was quick to respond with the facts. The story blames biofuels for the reduced acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). What it neglects to mention is that Congress reduced CRP by roughly seven million acres in the 2008 Farm Bill and the program is poised to be reduced by seven to eight million acres in the next farm bill. In addition, climate change and new seed varieties are mostly responsible for the expansion of corn production, with warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons making it possible to plant corn in places like North Dakota and Canada. American-produced biofuels are a clear and environmentally friendly alternative to oil. Today’s ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent compared to gasoline. NFU will continue stand up for the Renewable Fuel Standard that is cleaning up the environment, diversifying fuel sources and supporting rural economies.


Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI) participants traveled to Minneapolis recently for their second meeting. This session included taking a closer look at the value of cooperative businesses, touring a family dairy farm, and consideration of legal issues and bookkeeping requirements that are critical to success. For the first time, the group was given the opportunity to tour one participant’s farm. Eric Hoese’s family dairy farm is located just outside of the Twin Cities.


Kim Jones Answers: If your income is below the income tax filing threshold, and you choose not to get insurance, you will receive an exemption. However, if this is not the case, a penalty will be issued which begins at $95 for individuals. If your income is too low you can still get insurance. Question: Since insurance companies are no longer able to ask health-related questions, can I sign up for insurance only when I need it? Warren Graber Answers: Keep in mind we can’t buy insurance any day of the week. You still need to buy insurance during the enrollment period. Also, remember that you can work with your local insurance agent to purchase insurance. This way you still have a local person to contact if you have issues with your policy.

Union Farmer

Dec. 2013


Union Farmer

Education News Ramifications from Federal Shutdown Impact

By Bonnie Geyer Education Director

South Dakota’s Farmers & Ranchers

As 2013 is winding down(NFU) we look on the National Farmers Union hasback bestowed year and are thankful for our successes and one of its most prestigious honors, the Friendlook of forward toFarmer the New Year with the Family Award, upongreat Sen.enthusiasm Tim Johnson excitement! ofand South Dakota. Sen. Johnson was presented the Your Education award Monday, Sept.Depart9, durment is busy preparing for ing a reception at the Kennedy 2014! Beginning shortly Room inside the Russell Senafter the New Year,inJanuary ate Office Building Wash21-23 is the The Two-Year Senior ington, D.C. reception Legislative Award Trip with to was held in conjunction Pierre. This event will be NFU’s Fall Legislative Fly-In. held in conjunction Legislative which “Sen. Johnson is awith longtime friend Day of National st . We hope many of is scheduled for January 21President Farmers Union,” said NFU Roger Johnyou can join our young people in visiting with our son. “Throughout his career he has been a champion legislators. February 13-16 will be the College for family farmers and ranchers on issues ranging Conference on Cooperatives. This a regional from farm bills, to energy policy, toiscompetition conference for cooperative education heldbanking in Minin the livestock industry. His work on the neapolis. On March 8-11 we will travel to Santa committee helped to provide rural communities with Fe, NM National Union Convenaccess to for the the financing andFarmers credit they need to be tion. Please mark these events on your calendar successful.” and plan30now to join us! were in Washington and Over South Dakotans Farmers Union has four summer job opportunisurrounded Sen. Johnson as he was given the prestities open forSouth summer 2014.Farmers Applicants must be 19 gious award. Dakota Union President years of age or older and have completed at least Doug Sombke of Groton introduced the senator one year college or have been employed over during theof reception. the“Senator last year.Johnson This position ideal for someone is a trueisfriend to the family who loves to work with people of all ages and farmer and is so deserving of this award,” Sombke wants to have a very fun and rewarding summer. said. “He’s always been a champion for agriculture Wehas canstood also work with for internship and with us onuniversities so many issues throughout credit. Pleasecareer. give me a callthank at (605) 352-6761, his incredible I can’t Senator Johnson Ext. 125 for further information and/or an applicaenough for all of the work he’s done to make life tion. better for South Dakota’s agricultural producers.” This time of year is also a good time to consider a donation to the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation to help fund the programming growth we are experiencing. Please consider helping us develop young leaders and to educate more and more young people about the spirit of cooperation and the importance of our rural communities and agriculture. Your tax deductible contribution can be sent to PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350. Thank you for a great 2013! We have many fun things planned for the upcoming year and I can’t wait for everyone to participate. Again, thank you for supporting Farmers Union and the Farmers Union Youth Program. I hope all of you have a blessed Holiday! Be safe and enjoy!

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Although the federal government resumed full operations Oct. 17, ramifications from the three-week shutdown continue as various crop and livestock reports are cancelled or delayed, said Kim Dillivan SDSU Extension Crops Business Management Field Specialist. “Although the shutdown was relatively brief, any interruption of production and marketing information provided by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) negatively impacts the decision-making ability of researchers, analysts, producers, and consumers,” Dillivan said. According to the USDA, the federal government shutdown prevented the agency from collecting and analyzing agriculture production and marketing data. USDA agency websites were also inaccessible during the shutdown. Currently, the USDA is assessing its data collection plans and evaluating the timing of upcoming reports. The following is a list of the status of several relevant USDA reports and websites with brief descriptions concerning their importance. Dillivan provides a summary of the various reports and how the shutdown impacted their ability to provide information to the nations’ agriculture industry. World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE) The WASDE reports world and domestic supply and demand for grains, oilseeds, cotton, sugar and livestock products. Published monthly, the WASDE report for Oct.11, 2013 was cancelled due to the shutdown. The next scheduled release date is Nov. 8. “The October WASDE report cancellation is significant because the report would have contained updated production estimates for corn, soybeans, and other crops. Specifically, it would have used crop yield estimates to project production for the report. The October WASDE report would have also reconciled planted acres to help clarify estimated harvested acres. Parties that rely on this data may be forced to obtain estimates from private sources,” Dillivan said. Crop Production Report Scheduled for release on the same day, the USDA’s Crop Production Report was also cancelled. The next scheduled release date for this report is Nov. 8, 2013. USDA will publish some information in the Nov. 8 Crop Production Report that was originally scheduled for release in the October report. This information includes planted and harvested acreage for corn, soybeans, sorghum, and sunflower. Crop Progress Reports The USDA cancelled the Crop Progress Reports for Oct. 7 and 15. These weekly reports contain valued and timely information that is compiled from data submitted mainly by FSA and Extension personnel. U.S. Export Sales Export data provides one piece of fundamental demand information regarding the strength of foreign demand for U.S. grain and livestock products. This data is released every Thursday, and should be available again soon. As of Oct. 17, the current data was not yet available. Farm Service Agency website Livestock and crop producers will benefit from the re-opening of the FSA website. The FSA website provides critical information for producers regarding the Conservation Reserve Program, loan programs, crop price and revenue support, and insurance products. It also provides access to resources concerning the farm bill. The closure of FSA offices during the time of the record-breaking blizzard in South Dakota also resulted in a lack of guidance on reporting of losses that will affect any potential future disaster payments for these losses. Risk Management Agency website

Visit the Education page at for more information on our programs


Dec. 2013

Livestock producers will also welcome the re-opening of the website. In particular this website provides livestock producers with information regarding Livestock Risk Protection and Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) insurance products. An immediate concern for livestock producers is the PRF signup deadline of Nov.15. Dillivan said that the lapse in federal funding also resulted in the delay of several agricultural estimates reports, including: Broiler Hatchery, Cattle on Feed, Chicken and Eggs, Dairy Products, Livestock Slaughter, Milk Production, and Turkey Hatchery. These reports were originally scheduled for release during the government shutdown but will now be released in late October or early November. To learn more, visit

Union Farmer

Union Farmer Farm Bill Conference Committee Negotiations Continue The countdown begins. If Congress does not pass a comprehensive farm bill before the end of the year, U.S. farm policy will revert to permanent law and Congress will have failed to pass a five-year farm bill for the second year in a row. Farmers and ranchers will continue to live month-to-month and year-to-year without direction or the ability to plan ahead. As of Nov. 22, when the House and Senate Agriculture committees broke for Thanksgiving, no agreement had been reached. At this point, it leaves the leadership only a few weeks to reach an agreement before they take their respective holiday breaks. The House is scheduled to go out of session on Dec. 13 and the Senate on Dec. 20. If a new bill is not signed by President Obama before the end of the year, and the 2008 farm bill is not extended, the Agriculture Department will be legally obligated to implement the 1938 and 1949 permanent farm laws. Last year Congress extended parts of the 2008 farm bill until September 30 of this year. Earlier this fall, National Farmers Union, with the support of SDFU, sent a letter to all farm bill conferees, outlining our priorities. They included: 1. Oppose the House version’s additional, unnecessary studies on the implementation of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), which is already the law of the land, and resist any efforts to undermine the COOL law 2. Do not rescind existing permanent farm bill law. NFU will be forced to seriously consider opposing any farm bill that does not contain the important provisions contained in the permanent farm bill provisions from 1938 and 1949, as underlying legislation. The House bill removes the existing 1938 and 1949 fallback provision. Permanent law provides an incentive for Congress to periodically review farm programs and ensure they are still relevant and working properly. Rescinding this vital provision removes that incentive and promotes static policies that would be in place for decades to come 3. Include fixed reference prices, such as those proposed by the House bill’s commodity title, to provide protection against price collapse rather than basing price protection on a rolling Olympic average, as in the Senate bill 4. Provide $900 million of mandatory funding for energy title programs, as in the Senate bill, including the Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biobased Markets Program 5. Reauthorize and fund the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program at the House bill’s level, which provides funding for programs that expand important food systems in one of the fastest growing areas in agriculture

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BEGINNING FARM: (continued from page 3)

The group also heard how Minnesota Farmers Union has turned its program “Minnesota Cooks” into a popular event that represents the best homegrown foods from around the state. BFI participants include Shannan Tenze of Colorado; Maggie Mills and Janean Romines of Maryland; Eric Hoese, Carsten Thomas, Brent Krohn and Bryce Krohn, of Minnesota; Paul Kanning of Montana; Josh Norby, James Hansen and Loretta Hansen of North Dakota; and Jennifer Gibson of Wisconsin. The selected individuals from across the nation range from cattle ranchers and grain farmers to those growing for farmers markets to urban farmers. The institute is a yearlong program and is sponsored in part by Farm Credit, CHS Foundation, FUI Foundation and the NFU Foundation. BFI participants attended their first meeting earlier this year in Washington, D.C., where they focused on financial, marketing, public speaking and planning skills. More information can be found at education.

Union Farmer

Membership News

By Kelsey Schnetzer Membership Director

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah, or Merry Keshmish as the American Indian says. However you celebrate this this time of year, I hope this finds everyone well. The trip to Louisville, KY for the National FFA Convention proved to be exciting and exhausting all at the same time. Taking 16 high school juniors and seniors, many who have never flown before, proved to be an adventure. The Horse Judging Team that I took down did well, with two placing in the “Silver” status. We enjoyed time shopping at the National FFA ‘Mall’ and explored the Convention Center. They claim between the ‘mall’ and the convention center, you can fit almost 3 football fields; it is a rather large event!! I met up with some National Farmers Union Staff and other state members who were in attendance as well and developed some great ideas to bring back to South Dakota Farmers Union. I have also had my Make-A-Wish training this month and I am so excited to be a Wish Granter for this great organization! I learned so much from the few hours that I was able to spend with some extraordinary people. The group consisted of people like me, who hadn’t been touched personally by Make-A-Wish, to brothers, sisters, aunts and a mother that was in tears most of the day because her son had just received a wish. It is so touching to hear these stories. I was hoping to make an impact on these children, but I think these children will make an impact on me. In the membership department, we have been working hard to get our final membership letter of the year out. Our numbers for 2013 remain steady with 2012. Although this isn’t bad, we would like to see membership numbers increase. So, as you see your letter, please send your renewal in. As passed at the last state convention, our state membership dues will be increasing Jan. 1. Take advantage of discounted rates by signing up for a multi-year membership. We have great membership incentives available for our members and we are always working on new opportunities. I’m open to ideas on what YOU would like to see our members have fabulous discounts on. I’m always looking for what YOU are interested in having as an activity in your county. If you have an idea or are looking for ideas, please contact me right away so we can start planning. My number is 605-352-6761ext.116 or email me at

Dec. 2013


Union Farmer

A Water Drainage Model For Consideration (Part 3 of 4 part series) Guest Column By: David Ganje, Ganje Law Offices

Many are searching for a solution to the continuing problems and conflicts on the subject of water drainage in South Dakota. As reported in my previous articles, county commissioners in the state have fundamental authority over these issues. Unfortunately, not all counties in the state have faced theses legal responsibilities head-on. It can be reported however that one particular county has it right, and can act as a model David Ganje for others. Yankton County pinpointed the specific water drainage issues affecting their county, and determined how to resolve them. Perhaps these steps will inspire other counties to work as diligently. Based on the observations and conclusions of Patrick Garrity, the successful and reputable Yankton County official in charge of the drainage program for the county, the first act the county took was to step back and analyze how water drainage problems, along with the little-heeded laws and regulations, affect the county. To do this, Yankton County used a wetland conservation service to analyze its 500 square miles of land. The analysts found that almost half of Yankton County falls under the category of wetland, and had a solid potential for tile drainage systems in order to improve crop production. When faced with the knowledge of how much tile drainage could improve the county’s agricultural lands and economy, the Planning and Zoning Committee knew they had to act on this information. Before discussing the Yankton ‘miracle’ further, I will say a few words about countywide comprehensive plans. A “comprehensive plan” is a county legislated plan required by South Dakota law for each county. The plan must be implemented prior to creating general zoning and water drainage ordinances. A comprehensive plan is a document that describes in words, and may illustrate by maps, plats, charts, and other descriptive matter; the goals, policies, and objectives of the county board to interrelate all functional and natural systems and activities. Without a plan, zoning ordinances, including drainage ordinances, are invalid and unenforceable. The South Dakota Supreme Court has spoken and pretty much said, ‘Hey, you need a plan.’ Nevertheless, few counties have listened. To paraphrase what the Supreme Court said: A county commission has only those powers as are expressly conferred upon it by statute. With regard to water drainage problems, the


Dec. 2013

power of county commissions to adopt ordinances is contained in a South Dakota specific planning statute: ‘For the purpose of promoting health, safety, or the general welfare of the county the board may adopt an ordinance to regulate . . . the location and use of buildings, flood plain, or other purposes.’ But a county must first adopt a comprehensive plan before adopting water drainage ordinances; it is impossible to adopt an ordinance implementing a required comprehensive plan if that plan, the first required step, does not exist. The first watchword to success in water drainage is a comprehensive plan. Now let us observe the experience of Yankton County. Previously, the drainage commission of Yankton County used permits to decide drainage issues, mainly for economic reasons; issuing permits was a lot cheaper than having the issue settled in court. However, there were several problems with the commission’s previous system. First, it was terribly informal – all a farmer had to do to apply for a permit was state what they wanted to do, where, and roughly how. In most cases, these inquiries did not go further unless someone contested the permit application. Second, due to low application criterion, the drainage board often ran into problems by granting permits to those who did not use them properly. Because of these problems, it was evident that change was needed. To solve these issues, Yankton County held meetings to discuss the problem and possible solutions. The county formed a commission of experts from all sides; including those who opposed tile drainage, and those who supported it, to study the problems. The commission considered each viewpoint and each professional opinion. The commission met once a month for 18 months, and succeeded in enacting an effective drainage ordinance. The heart of Yankton County’s new, and effective, drainage ordinance had its roots in reestablishing the parameters under which the reestablished Yankton Drainage Board would base their findings and decisions. Specifically, they referenced the National Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) soil conservation handbook to create a more concrete and specific basis for allowing drainage permits. This resulted in more explicit guidelines and standards for the board to follow. This is what I call good baseline guidance and management. The final step is to use concrete facts and evidence in the county’s application process to make decisions. As Mr. Garrity stated, “You cannot create a finding from an emotional standpoint,” meaning that concrete evidence and specific examples are required when contesting or offering ideas. By using concrete facts and evidence, the county is better able to make productive decisions, rather than simply arguing over their own personal opinions; an issue many counties today are facing. Yankton County has also employed the use of

Union Farmer

the most current technology and systems available, such as LiDAR. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging; it is an optical sensing technology that can measure the distance between properties and can more definitely draw property lines. Therefore, LiDAR can solve many of the problems associated with water drainage systems. The technology’s outstanding accuracy gives the Drainage Board definitive facts, and has made a huge difference in how decisions are made. By following these steps, Yankton County has been able to enact effective water drainage laws. They have instilled more confidence in the board by giving them specific criteria to follow, and provided solid facts on which to base every decision. In addition, by involving commissioners from different backgrounds and of multiple opinions, they have guaranteed that the decisions are not only best for everyone, but also just. Yankton is also promoting education on this subject, so more county residents can understand the problem and work to implement the solution. Yankton County is a model for getting water drainage right. David L Ganje of Ganje Law Offices is an attorney in Rapid City who practices commercial law and natural resources law. Contact him at 605-3850330, or write to him: David L. Ganje, Ganje Law Offices, 1830 West Fulton, Rapid City, S.D. 57701.

Union Farmer


Farmers Union Footnotes

Larry Brink, age 73, of Huron, SD, died at his home surrounded by family on Saturday, September 21, 2013, after a brief battle with acute leukemia. His funeral service was Thursday, September 26, at Huron Christian Church with burial at Riverside Cemetery. He worked for Beadle Electric/Dakota Energy for 38 years as a lineman, line superintendent, and operations manager. He enjoyed breaking horses to ride and drive, fishing, and hunting. He loved to create homemade gifts for others. Above all, he enjoyed time spent with family. He was also actively involved in the Huron Christian Church, and was devoted to Diamond Willow Ministries at Ft. Thompson, SD and served as a board member. Larry was a recent recipient of the Rural Dakota Pride award given by the SD Farmers Union Foundation. Del Radcliffe, age 91, of Huron, died Thursday, November 14, 2013, at SunQuest Healthcare Center. Her funeral service was November 17th, at the First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Mark Holland officiating. Burial was at the Graceland Cemetery at Tulare. Del Decker was born October 2, 1922, to Jake and Mary (Gross) Decker at Yale. In June 1940, she married Elmer Lips. He died December 1957. In March 1959, she married Alvern Foglesong. He died May 1978. In March 1988, she married Benjamin H. Radcliffe, Farmers Union President Emeritus, at Huron. She was preceded in death by her parents; two husbands, Elmer Lips and Alvern Foglesong; one sister, Lillian Frankenstein; one brother, Homer Decker; one stepdaughter, Linda Stephens; and one son-in-law, Alan Schultz. Grateful for having shared her life are her husband, Ben of Huron; three daughters, Lynne Schultz of Tulare, Crystal and her husband, Anthony Benning of Madison, and Rosemary and her husband, Mel Wieting of Minneapolis, Minnesota; one son, Alan and his wife, Lynn Foglesong of Houston, Texas; two stepdaughters, Dona and her husband Wayne Hansen of Mt. Vernon and Barbara Blaedorn of Huron; nine grandchildren, Nicole Schultz, Wade Schultz, Michael Benning, Christopher Benning, Tyler Foglesong, Sydney Foglesong, Andrew Wieting, Kimberly Wieting, and Melissa Wieting Blum; six stepgrandchildren; and four great-grandchildren, Gracie Benning, Jackson Benning, Tyr Benning, and Naeva Benning.

Thank You Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak in Woonsocket & Wolsey, for the amazing program you sponsor. I have received some positive emails from some of the students. What you do is touching many lives. Thank you so much. -Holly Hoffman

Atticus Wayne Schneider, age 2 months, passed away at his home in rural Britton, SD on November 17, 2013. The funeral was held Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at the United Methodist Church of Britton. Burial was at the Trondhjem Cemetery of rural Veblen. Atticus Wayne Schneider,is the son of Jason and Mina (Bien) Schneider. Atticus was born Sept 18, 2013. Atticus is survived by his parents and sister, grandparents Lee and Darda Schneider (Marshall County Education Leader), Britton, SD; Boyd and Kathie Bien, Lake City, SD; great-grandparents Rollin and Virginia Barnes, Pierre, SD; Gerald and Dorthy Schneider, Britton, SD; and numerous aunts, uncles and a cousin.

Clip & Save Calendar December 2013 4-5 7 14

CHS Annual Mtg., Minneapolis State Camp Planning Meeting, Huron District II Annual Meeting, Woonsocket 24-26 State Office Closed, Christmas

January 2014 1 10 11-15 14 14 16-17

State Office Closed, New Year’s Magness Sale Barn-Coffee NFU Women’s Conference, Florida Bales Sale Barn-Coffee Legislative Session Begins, Pierre Women in Blue Jeans Conference, Mitchell 18 District III Annual Meeting, Quality Inn, Watertown 20 State Office Closed, MLK Day 20-21 REAL Session II, Pierre 21 SDFU Legislative Day, Pierre 21-23 2 Yr. Award Trip, Youth Education Pierre 31Young Producers Meeting Feb 1 Deadwood

February 2014

Thank You

Thank you so much for the lunch that was provided at the elevator. It was greatly appreciated during the busy harvest season. - Kirk & Wendi Ford Huron, SD Wheat Growers

Thank You Thank you for your support of the 2013 District & State FFA Leadership CDE’s and your sponsorship of Senior Parliamentary Procedure CDE. Your generosity and support are greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Menno FFA Sr. Parli Pro Team

11 13-16 17 18 19 24

Ag Fest, Pierre College Conf. on Coops, Minneapolis State Office Closed, President’s Day District IV meeting, Winner Watertown Sale Barn Coffee Aberdeen Livestock Coffee

March 2014 8-12 14 21 24 28-29

NFU Convention-Sante Fe Lemmon Farm & Home Show St. Onge Sale Barn Coffee Faith Sale Barn Coffee Little “I”, Brookings

APRIL 2014 2 3 21

Jr. Real, Howard Jr. Real, Beresford State Camp Planning Meeting, Huron

Visit the Events section at for more details on upcoming events.

The South Dakota Union Farmer is published 10 times per calendar year with issues in January, February, March, April, May/June, July, Aug./Sept., October, November, and December. All information for publication must be submitted by the 15th of the month. You may submit items by mail to the State Office, P.O. Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350 or email items to:

Union Farmer

Dec. 2013


South Dakota Union Farmer - December 2013  

The South Dakota Union Farmer is a publication of the South Dakota Farmers Union, a nonprofit family farm organization headquartered in Huro...

South Dakota Union Farmer - December 2013  

The South Dakota Union Farmer is a publication of the South Dakota Farmers Union, a nonprofit family farm organization headquartered in Huro...