Page 1

South Dakota





Ethanol Centennial State Leadership Camp

Golf Tournament Raises $10,000

Page 17

Page 10

Page 5

South Dakota Farmers Union Members Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Reform Redistricting Policy


outh Dakota’s Constitution redistricting language allows legislators to select their voters. South Dakota Farmers Union members seek to change this. “Our membership believes voters should select their legislators, not the other way around,” said Doug Sombke, President of S.D. Farmers Union. He explains that during the 99th State Convention, held in Aberdeen November 20-21, 2014, members of the grassroots organization voted to draft an amendment to the state’s Constitution that would eliminate gerrymandering and establish fair and unpartisan guidelines for redistricting. “Representation at the rural Continued on Page 3

South Dakota Farmers Union Celebrates the Reis Ranch Family Celebrating a century of service to South Dakota's farm and ranch families, throughout 2015, South Dakota Farmers Union will highlight members who farm or ranch with their families each month. For the months of July & August, South Dakota Farmers Union features the Reis family who ranch near Reliance.


hile some ranchers are nervous about what will happen to their operation when they are ready to retire, David and Brenda Reis are David & Brenda Reis not too worried. Courtesy of Darcy Krick Photography “All of our kids want to take over the ranch. That would not be sustainable, but the one thing about having a close family, between the kids and us, we’ll be able to work out a transition plan,” says David, the third-generation to raise cattle in the Missouri River breaks near Reliance. Although they all have careers off the ranch, the Reis’ four grown children - Shawn, 39; April, 37; Shane, 35; and Zane, 33 – remain involved, running cow/calf herds alongside their parents’. They began building their herds as kids with a heifer calf gifted to them by their Grandma Reis. After college, the siblings all made the conscious decision to return to the Reliance area to build their lives and families so they could take an active role in the family ranch. Some weekdays and most weekends at least one or all of the children can be found helping David and Brenda on the ranch – their families in tow. “Even today we all have fun working together. We make sure that the grandkids are involved too,” explains Brenda. She and David expanded the tradition by giving each grandchild a replacement heifer, which helps encourage future interest in ranching. To learn more about the Reis family and their ranch, turn to page 14 or visit I by Lura Roti, for SDFU

UNION FARMER Thank You South Dakota Farmers Union Karla, Thank you for helping sponsor the “Ag Women’s Day” in Faulkton. Thanks also for the spatula. It is a very useful gift. I appreciate your support of this event. I enjoyed it very much and the information received is very useful. Mary Jessen, Holabird ~~ ~ Karla, Thank you for your donation of items for our bingo event at the Annual Meeting. It was a pleasure to get to meet you. Hope you enjoyed the evening. Cooperatively yours, Jennie Patrick, Sioux Valley Energy ~~ ~ Dear SD Farmers Union, Thank you so very much for your continued support of SD Ag in the Classroom. With more and more people realizing the importance of teaching Ag literacy to the consuming public, our need, relevance and importance grow every day. Thank you for helping us serve that need. Sincerely, Ann Price, Executive Director


MEMBERSHIP NEWS Are you celebrating a life event or honoring the life of a Farmers Union member? We’d like to share the news. Please send photos and membership updates, anniversaries, awards, birthdays, birth announcements, obituaries and other updates to SDFU Executive Director, Karla Hofhenke, at PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350 or The date we receive the information will determine which Union Farmer the information will run.


Bob and Shirley Weber who celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary June 3. Brittany Gassman married Nathan Russell on Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Canova. Brittany was a Summer Intern in 2011 and 2012. Jason Frerichs & Ashley (Vangsness) who were married June 28, 2015.

The Winner of the Centennial Cookbook Contest is Sandy McEldowney from Wessington Springs. To learn about her and try out her winning recipes, turn to page 4. To order a cookbook, contact Pam Evenson, 605-352-6761 ext: 116, to place your order today! Cookbooks are $15 plus tax and shipping.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Submitted by: JoAnne Olson, Day County member

3-4 Boneless chicken breasts Salt and pepper 1 cup corn starch 2 eggs, beaten 1/4 cup canola oil Sweet and sour sauce 3/4 cup Sugar 4 T. Ketchup 1/2 cup white vinegar 1 T. Soy sauce 1 t. garlic salt



Preheat oven to 350. Rinse chicken breasts in water and then cut in cubes. Salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into cornstarch to coat then dip in eggs. Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet and cook chicken til brown, but not cooked through. Place the chicken in 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour evenly over chicken. Bake 1 hour; during baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes.



Braxten Tyler Sombke arrived on June 30 , 8 lbs-1 oz, 21.5 “ length. He is the son of Brett and Stephanie Sombke. Paternal Grandparents are Doug and Melenie Sombke, Groton. Maryn Claire Sombke arrived July 14, 7lbs-5 oz, 20.75” length. She is the daughter of Bryan and Whitney Sombke. Maternal Grandparents are Torre and Denise Raap, Andover, and Paternal Grandparents are Doug and Melenie Sombke, Groton.

~ Departings ~

Jim Eichstadt, 61, of DeForest, Wis. passed away Friday July 10. Eichstadt was a former employee of SDFU from 1976--1978.

News, Events and more online now!


For the Cowboy In All of Us Double D

Western Wear & Tack 800 21st St., Huron, SD 605.352.5792

Farmers Union Members get

20% OFF* their entire purchase!

Present this coupon with your purchase *Excludes all boots, men’s jeans and tack



Call for a Constitutional Amendment Continued from Page 1

AUGUST 5 Ag Appreciation Day, Sioux Falls 5 State Board Meeting, Huron 6 County Councilors Meeting, Huron 10-16 Brown County Fair, Aberdeen 17-20 Turner County Fair, Parker 18-20 Dakota Fest, Mitchell 19-21 ACE Conference, Omaha 23 SDSU Club Fair, Brookings 26 MTI Club Day, Mitchell SEPTEMBER 2 Highmore/Harrold Jr. REAL, Highmore 3-7 SD State Fair, Huron 5 SDFU Day @ State Fair, Huron 7 State Office Closed 16-18 Washington D.C. Fly-In 19 District II Meeting, Humboldt 21 Lake Preston/DeSmet Jr. REAL, DeSmet 22 Wolsey/Wess./Hitchcock/Tulare, Jr. REAL, Wolsey 23 Woonsocket, Sanborn Central/Wess. Springs, Jr. REAL, Woonsocket 24 Faulkton Jr. REAL, Faulkton OCTOBER 12 State Office Closed 22 Miller Jr. REAL, Miller 29 Harding County Jr. REAL, Buffalo 31 District III Annual Meeting, Watertown NOVEMBER 4-5 REAL, Session I, Huron 18-19 State Board Meeting, Huron 26-27 State Office Closed DECEMBER 9-10 State Convention, Huron 24-25 State Office Closed 31 State Office Closes @ 12 PM

South Dakota Farmers Union Camps ~ 2015 For times, locations and registration information and any rescheduling information, visit; click on the Calendar tab. August 3 Dewey/Zieback Camp, Timber Lake 3 Lincoln County Camp, Tea 4 Perkins County Camp, Bison 4 Union County Camp, Beresford 5 Harding County Camp, Buffalo 11 Deuel Grant Camp, Clear Lake 11 Hanson County Camp, Alexandria 12 Clay County Camp, Vermillion


Matt Sibley

Doug Sombke

level needs to be stronger,” said Matt Sibley, S.D. Farmers Union Legislative Specialist. “The current redistricting language is so ambiguous it’s no wonder rural voters don’t feel they are represented fairly.” Current language states: “The Legislature shall apportion its membership by dividing the state into as many singlemember, legislative districts as there are state senators. House districts shall be established wholly within senatorial districts and shall be either single-member or dual-member districts as the Legislature shall determine. Legislative districts shall consist of compact, contiguous territory and shall have population as nearly equal as is practicable, based on the last preceding federal census. An apportionment shall be made by the Legislature in 1983 and in 1991, and every ten years after 1991. Such apportionment shall be accomplished by December first of the year in which the apportionment is required. If any Legislature whose duty it is to make an apportionment shall fail to make the same as herein provided, it shall be the duty of the Supreme Court within ninety days to make such apportionment.” Give Voters Back Their Voice Sibley explained that the proposed Amendment would establish a nine-member redistricting commission made up of voters, not legislators – with representatives from both major parties as well as non-affiliated voters. “Something is wrong with the system when there is only 54 percent voter turnout. We believe this Amendment will give voters back their voice – and knowledge that they can make a difference,” said Sibley, referencing the current Constitutional language. 27,741 signatures needed In order to get the Redistricting Amendment on the Nov. 2016 ballot, South Dakota Farmers Union, along with other


Mark Remily

organizations, formed #SDRtThing2Do Coalition. The Coalition will need to collect about 28,000 signatures from registered voters. To lead this effort, Farmers Union has hired Mark Remily to serve as the #SDRtThing2Do Coalition Campaign Coordinator. Remily, who currently holds a position on the Aberdeen City Council, brings abundant experience to the position. He’s passed many petitions in his political career; in 2008 he ran for Dist. 3 House seat and in 2014 he ran for a Dist. 3 Senate seat. He organized each campaign and was able to get them on the ballot. He has also passed petitions for other referendums which have made it on the ballot. “My passion for this issue runs very deep,” Remily says. “I have long been fed up with our current Representatives always passing Legislation that goes against the majority of South Dakotan’s wishes. Our only tool to hold them accountable for bad Legislation is the Referendums that we have successfully executed.” Remily goes on to say: “It goes to show that our lopsided legislation has been wrong on most occasions. The voters should be the ones choosing their Legislators.” The Amendment Farmers Union proposes includes guidelines that would create equality among voting districts. “Instead of reflecting an incumbent’s supporters, these districts will accurately reflect the population of each community,” Sombke said. Farmers Union will also be looking for volunteers to help collect signatures. If you are interested, please contact Mark Remily, #SDRtThing2Do Coalition Campaign Coordinator at 605-228-1730 or To read a copy of the Redistricting Amendment and to learn more, visit I



UNION FARMER Sandy McEldowney is the 2015 Cookbook Winner


hen it comes to cooking, Sandy McEldowney doesn’t do fancy – she sticks with delicious basics like potatoes, gravy, meat and vegetables. “That’s how I grew up,” says the Wessington Springs Farmers Union lifetime member and winner of the 2015 Centennial Cookbook Contest for her Vegetable Beef Soup, Scotcheroos and Morning Coffee Cake recipes. “Today, the only complaint I get is the fact that I always cook too much food.”

Pam Evenson, SDFU Administrative Assistant, presents Sandy McEldowney with the Cook Book Contest Prize which included new grilling tools, a cooler and other cooking supplies.

McEldowney explains that growing up on her family’s farm near Gann Valley, her mom spent a lot of time working outside, so she helped out by cooking meals for the family and hired help. “I will never forget what it used to take to make chicken. We’d go out and kill the chicken, pull the feathers off, cut it up and then cook it,” she recalls. Later in life, she continued to prepare large meals for her own family on their farm near Wessington Springs. Their children are now grown with kids of their own. In 2010 she and her husband, Dennis, moved to town. McEldowney was actually preparing food for a large, family birthday celebration when last summer’s tornado tore through Wessington Springs. “I was so busy preparing for the 90th birthday party, that I wasn’t paying much attention to the weather outside,” she recalls. It wasn’t until the local volunteer fire fighters drove by her house warning everyone to get into their basements that she took cover in the home’s sump pump room. McEldowney’s home was in the tornado’s path. When she and Dennis emerged from the basement, not much was left. “Trees –




8 c. water 1 pt. canned, chunked tomatoes salt, pepper and onions to taste 2-3 T. vegetable flakes 1 (15 oz.) can beef broth 2 to 3 cups beef, cooked and cho pped 2 cubes beef bouillon 1 bag frozen, mixed vegetables Combine all ingredients in a crockp ot and cook all day on low.


1 c. sugar 1 c. Karo corn syrup 1 c. peanut butter 5 c. Rice Krispies or Cheerios Boil sugar and syrup until clear. Add peanut butter and cereal. Spread into a 9 x 13 pan.

The 2014 tornado, which tore through Wessington Springs, destroyed Sandy McEldowney’s home.

everything landed in the middle of the house. The tornado brought the roof straight down and tore the garage roof right off. It took the whole middle of the house and squashed it upside down,” she says. The one room the tornado didn’t touch was their home office, where all the family photos were stored. As she tells the story, McEldowney says she would have lost all her kitchen supplies if it had not been for family members rummaging through rubble to save her new pots and pans. They were not able to retrieve any of her cookbooks.

Silver linings Looking back on the experience, McEldowney says there are many things to be thankful for. First, no one lost their life and the generosity which poured out from family and community was incredible. “A niece found us an apartment right away and our insurance came down the very next

Frosting 1 c. chocolate chips 1 c. butterscotch chips Carefully melt chips in the microw ave or on stove top, being careful not to scorch. Frost over bars.


1 c. sugar 1 c. cooking oil 4 eggs 2 c. flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1 can cherry pie filling Sprinkle of cinnamon Powdered sugar frosting Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream sug ar, oil and eggs. Add flour and bak ing powder. Spread half of this batter into a 9 x 13 pan. Pour the pie filling ove batter. Top with remaining bat r ter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes. Drizzle powdered sugar frosting on top after baking. Note: Peach or apple pie fillings are also good.

day and gave us a check – everything was totaled.” Because their foundation was intact, they rebuilt their home, but they didn’t replace all the “toys” lost in the storm. “We had motorcycles and a 40-foot RV, but decided that instead of replacing those things, we would buy a lake house we could enjoy together with our family.” She says the entire experience reminds her not to take anything for granted. “We learned to take every day as it is and enjoy it.” I

Order Your Own Copy of the Farmers Union Centennial Cookbook Sandy McEldowney with her husband, Dennis, and their grandchildren at the family’s lake home on July 4, 2015.


Cookbooks are $15 plus tax and shipping. Contact Pam Evenson, 605-352-6761 ext: 116, to place your order today!


UNION FARMER Youth Develop Leadership Skills during South Dakota Farmers Union 2015 State Leadership Camp

Eighty-five youth from counties across South Dakota attended the 2015 Farmers Union State Camp held at Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City.


ural youth from 27 counties across South Dakota attended the 2015 South Dakota Farmers Union State Leadership Camp held at Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City. During the week-long camp, youth who have completed the seventh grade through high school developed leadership and communication skills as they organized and operated five cooperative businesses. They also learned about the Farmers Union and other cooperative businesses, participated in leadership workshops, listened to guest speakers and participated in talent night. A tour of the Black Hills, hiking, volleyball, basketball and fun cooperative games completed the camp experience and left campers with lasting memories and many new friends, says Karly Schaunaman, 15, who lives on her family’s crop and livestock farm near Aberdeen. “Because I go to a bigger school not many of my classmates live on farms or show cattle like I do, so it can be difficult to identify with them. That’s what’s different about my Farmers Union friends; we have a lot in common,” Schaunaman explains. “These are the friends who have encouraged me to be myself and step out of my shell.” Kiana Brockel, 19, would agree. “I’ve met so many friends through Farmers Union – these friends encouraged me and helped me develop confidence,” said Brockel, a 2015 graduate of Bison High School, who explained that before she attended Farmers Union Camp, she would describe herself as self-conscious and awkward. “After State Leadership Camp, I realized that other people thought I was


fun. This motivated me to do more in my high school back home.” Brockel was one of six students to plan the camp agenda and activities as a member of Farmers Union 2014/2015 Junior Advisory Council (JAC). “As a JAC I am able to help other kids who, like me, are shy and need someone to help them break out of their comfort zone. For me, Farmers Union Camp is the best week of my summer. Our team worked to make camp the best week for others,” says Brockel, who will attend Colorado State University this fall.

The 2015 Bob Janish Friendship Award was awarded to Jesse Carlson by 2014 recipient, Dowain Kerner.

Schaunaman and Brockel’s camp experiences are not unique, explains Bonnie Geyer, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director “We make sure camp is fun, but also informational. It’s our hope that through camp, youth learn more about themselves, gain confidence, make friends and glean a clear understanding of the cooperative system, agriculture and farm safety,” Geyer said. During camp the 2015/2016 Junior


Advisory Council was elected. These students are responsible to plan the 2016 State Leadership Camp. They include: Kaden Kummer, Parkston; Jesse Carlson, Seneca; Tess Heidenreich, Faulkton; Jeana Nuss, Tripp; Kylee DeBoer, Tripp; and Windsor Barry, Carter. Along with the Junior Advisory Council members, a team of four summer interns also helped Geyer with State Leadership Camp. Helping keep things running smoothly to ensure a positive experience for campers was a role that Summer Intern, Myles Bialas, took seriously. “I’ve always thought South Dakota is the greatest state, and the opportunity this internship gave me to visit rural communities throughout the state has convinced me,” says Bialas, a junior Agronomy major at South Dakota State University. “I enjoyed working with all the youth and the great team of Education Directors.” Bob Janish Memorial Friendship Award Jesse Carlson of Seneca was awarded the Bob Janish Memorial Friendship Award during State Leadership Camp. Each year this award is given to a camper who exemplifies the most friendship toward other campers throughout the week. It is given in memory of a former state camper and Junior Advisory Council member, Bob Janish, who was killed in a tragic accident in 1980. To learn more about Farmers Union Youth Programs, contact Geyer at, 605-352-6761 ext. 125 or visit I



UNION FARMER 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council Members Selected to Serve


uring the 2015 State Leadership Camp, a six member Junior Advisory Council was selected by the youth and Education Council to serve as leaders, role models and representatives in planning and conducting the 2016 State Leadership Camp. The 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council (JAC), who were announced during State Camp, include: Windsor Barry, Carter; Jesse Carlson, Seneca; Kylee DeBoer, Tripp; Tess Heidenreich, Faulkton; Kaden Kummer, Parkston; and Jeana Nuss, Tripp. In addition to coordinating, implementing and directing State Camp, these individuals participate in a number of leadership development opportunities throughout the year. They are involved in activities such as serving as a page at the Farmers Union State Convention, helping with Farmers Union events across South Dakota and assisting the State Education Director with promotion of education programs. “Their insight and Farmers Union experience is valuable to the continued evolution and development of Farmers Union Youth Programming,” says Bonnie Geyer, SDFU Education Director. Read on to learn more about these youth leaders: Windsor Barry Background: Windsor, son of Wade and Cleo Barry, comes from a long line of family members involved in Farmers Union Youth Programs. A senior at Winner High School, Windsor’s brother, Wade, was a JAC; his sisters Taylor and Tawny received the Torchbearer Award; his grandma, Viola, served as District 5 Education Director. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? Leadership and cooperation are the two main things I’ve learned through Farmers Union. These two traits create a strong foundation for my life and the lives of every participant. I also appreciate learning about how deep Farmers Union’s roots run in South Dakota’s rural farming and ranching communities. As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? I am eager to meet all the young kids who will eventually be the face of Farmers Union. I have always looked up to the JACs and understand what it means to be looked upon to lead. Through Farmers Union I have



The 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council (JAC), who were announced during State Camp, include L to R: Tess Heidenreich, Faulkton; Jeana Nuss, Tripp; Jesse Carlson, Seneca; Kaden Kummer, Parkston; Windsor Barry, Carter; and Kylee DeBoer, Tripp.

learned that no matter how different our walks of life can be, in this organization we are accepted and taught to work together to achieve a common purpose. I want to share this message with these young campers. Jesse Carlson Background: Jesse Carlson lives with his parents, Amy and Scott Carlson, in Seneca. I was introduced to Farmer's Union by my older brothers, Peary and Jamie, who always attended camp and pushed me into going that very first year when I was six years old at county camp. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? The people who I have met have changed my life for the better. I have attended camp with some of these people since we were all eight years old. The life skills I’ve learned have been important ones like leadership and cooperation. These programs have taught me one of the best traits a person needs to succeed in life - the ability to express myself and speak in front of a crowd without being nervous. As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? I was introduced to Farmers Union Camp by my older brothers, Peary and Jamie. As a young kid, I really looked up to the JACs. I want to make their experiences fun and rewarding so that they want to


keep coming back year after year, like I did. Also, I look forward to bringing some great ideas to 2016 camp planning. Kylee De Boer Background: The daughter of Daniel De Boer and Tina Konrad, Kylee, a Senior at Tripp-Delmont High School, was introduced to Farmers Union by her best friend her Sophomore year of high school and she says it changed her life. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? The main thing that hooked me on Farmers Union youth programs is the fact that with this group I can be my true self. It has always been hard for me to show who I truly am, and when I met these amazing people, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I have also learned great leadership skills through the cooperative component of the camp. Running a co-op has taught me a lot about how to work with large groups of people and ways to get work done in an efficient, yet also fun, way. As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? Helping to make a difference in people’s lives has always been a goal of mine. As a JAC, I feel I can help plan a camp where other kids will find their true selves like I did. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp also helps people develop skills everyone can use in their daily life.


UNION FARMER Tess Heidenreich Background: A friend invited Tess to her first Farmers Union camp when she was in the sixth grade and the daughter of Dave and Nancy Heidenreich has been attending ever since. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? I like knowing that I am a part of an organization that makes a positive difference in the world and most of my best friends from across South Dakota are involved in Farmers Union. As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? Ever since I first attended Farmers Union State Leadership Camp, I have been thinking of ideas and small ways the camp could change for the better. I am excited to see what the future holds and eager to get started planning 2016 camp with this great team! Kaden Kummer Background: Kaden’s parents, Kevin and Mary, are lifetime Farmers Union members, so he’s been attending Farmers Union camps since he was 8. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? As I got older I stayed involved because of the amazing memories that I have made, as well as the lifelong friendships I’ve developed at Farmers Union camp. I would say that Farmers Union State Leadership Camp is the best part of my summer – every summer! As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? I’ve always wanted to contribute ideas to planning camp. I also want to serve as a role model to the younger campers. Jeana Nuss Background: Jeana is the daughter of Jarrod and Ronda Nuss. She first became involved in Farmers Union youth programming by attending District Camp in Viborg. Why do you enjoy participating in Farmers Union Youth Programs? I am hooked on Farmers Union because the atmosphere is amazing! Everyone is so nice and it’s awesome meeting new people from other towns. As a member of the 2015-2016 Junior Advisory Council, how do you hope to serve? As a camper I know the important role JACs play in each camper’s experience. We are the first people they see when they arrive at camp. As a camper myself, I know how the JACs always made me feel welcome and helped make the camp experience unforgettable. I’m looking forward to helping young Farmers Union members learn the fun songs and get to know new friends. I am an energetic and fun person, so I’m eager to share my energy and creativity to help plan 2016 camp. I


Randy & Mary Ellen Cammack will Represent South Dakota for the 2015-2016 Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program Mary Ellen and Randy Cammack


anching together for almost 40 years, Mary Ellen and Randy Cammack look forward to sharing a bit of what they’ve learned with younger couples as well as gaining knowledge they can bring back to their Sturgis ranch through their participation in the 2015-2016 Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program. “History does repeat itself and we’ve learned a lot over the years which we can share. And, we still have more to learn from others,” Mary Ellen says. The Cammack’s are third generation ranchers. They operate a cow/calf operation, Flying C Ranch, near Sturgis; with their daughter, Shelby. Their other three grown children, Tyler Cammack, Loni Brown and Paige Komes, still have cattle on the ranch, but they have lives and careers off the ranch. Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program Developed to substantiate and empower future leaders for rural America and Farmers Union, the Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program provides training and hands-on experiences which enable couples to become knowledgeable leaders. “This is the first time either of us have participated in a leadership-focused program together,” Mary Ellen explains. “As producers, we spend our days working side-by-side, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.” Mary Ellen and Randy have been involved in Farmers Union for several years. Currently Mary Ellen serves as one of three SDFU members to represent Farmers Union on the Beef Industry Council. “We respect the fact that Farmers Union continues to focus on supporting family farming and ranching operations, as well as catering to the social needs and well being of the families involved,” Mary Ellen says. Along with South Dakota, farm couples from the states of North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota are also involved. Throughout the year, the couples involved meet five times. The sessions begin with a summer family session where the 2015 participants and their families get to meet with the 2014 class. The second gathering will be held at one of the participating state’s State Conventions. The third gathering is held during National Farmers Union Convention. The fourth gathering is again the Family Session, with the final gathering held in conjunction with the Washington, D.C. Fly-In. “We have been so impressed with the quality of the individuals who have completed the program and I think Farmers Union and each of their respective communities and states will benefit from these young couples,” said Harley Danielson, Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program Coordinator. Following each Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program events, Mary Ellen and Randy will share what they learned with Union Farmer readers. To learn more and find out how you can participate in the 2016 Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program, contact Karla Hofhenke at or 605-352-6761 ext: 114. I




UNION FARMER Three South Dakota Teens Receive National Office within National Farmers Union


hree South Dakota teens were selected to serve on Farmers Union’s National Youth Advisory Council during the 2015 National Farmers Union All States Leadership Camp held in Bailey, Colo. this June. The students include: Jesse Carlson, 17, a Faulkton High School senior and son of Scott and Amy Carlson; Kiana Brockel, 19, a graduate of Bison High School and the daughter of Kelvin and Jean Brockel; and Alexandra Farber, 18, a graduate of BrittonHecla High School and daughter of Tom and Lori Farber. The South Dakota students make up half of the six-person team who will be representing thousands of Farmers Union youth across the country by working during the annual National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention and attending the NFU D.C. FlyIn where the youth will visit with Congressional Leaders about issues facing agriculture and rural communities throughout the nation. These young Farmers Union leaders will also help plan next year's NFU AllStates Leadership Camp. The other students serving include: Andrew Cotter, Wisconsin; Karly Held, North Dakota; and Ali Slaughter, Wisconsin. "I couldn't be more proud of the South Dakota youth selected to serve. I have known them since they first became involved in the Farmers Union youth program in elementary school and have watched them grow and develop into leaders among their peers within their schools, community and the state of South Dakota," said Bonnie Geyer, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director. Geyer added that this is the first time in the history of South Dakota Farmers Union that three youth have been selected the same year for this honor. "This is a huge honor for South Dakota Farmers Union! It is a privilege to watch our young people be so excited about their involvement in Farmers Union and see the passion that they have for Farmers Union's mission and goals," Geyer says. "It is a true testament to the value of this program when you hear them talk about what being involved in Farmers Union means to them and what a difference it has made in their lives." Since 1978, 16 South Dakota youth have served on the National Youth Advisory Council, including Jeff Moser, Miller, 1978; Amanda Lee, De Smet, 2004; Ryan Soren, Lake Preston, 2005; Melissa Bushfield, Hitchcock, and Tirzah Lily, Lily, 2008; Hannah Lily, Lily, and



Angie Koch, Stickney, 2009; Blake Farber, Britton, 2010; Patrick Lowin, Blunt, and Gina Dethlefsen, Stickney, 2011; Mason Farber, Britton, 2012; and Dayton Trujillo, De Smet, and Chris Nemec, Holabird, 2014. "One of the great challenges facing modern American agriculture is its own demographics," said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. "Combine the aging demographics of farmers in the world's breadbasket of the nation with the skyrocketing global population and you can quickly see the need for a new generation of farmers and ranchers who are equipped to lead." 2015 All States Leadership Camp National Farmers Union has several ongoing programs that reach out to youth in the farm and rural sector and help them hone their leadership skills. "National Farmers Union's nearly 80 year-old All-States Leadership Camp does just that, with many of the participants going on to take the reins of important farm organizations, both domestically and internationally," said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President. Johnson pointed out that over the course of its nearly eight decades, more than 6,100 young men and women have received leadership training in these camps. "Many of our campers have gone on to take highly visible leadership positions in agriculture, including a U.S. senator, the president of a national farm organization, the president of an international farm organization and a director of the nation's largest farmer-owned supply and marketing cooperative," he said. To participate in All-States Leadership Camp, Farmers Union members, ages 17 to 20, must meet specific criteria throughout the year. In addition to Carlson, Brockel and Farber, four other South Dakota youth earned their way to All State's Camp. They include: Tyana Gottsleben, Philip; Jason Hanson, Britton; Alyson Hauck, De Smet; and Courtney


Kiana Brockel, Jesse Carlson, Alex Farber

Edgar, Orient. All-State's is sponsored by the FUI Foundation, Farm Credit, CoBank and CHS Foundation. More about South Dakota Members of the National Farmers Union Youth Advisory Council Kiana Brockel, 19, grew up on a cow/calf and small grains ranch near Bison. A graduate of Bison High School, Brockel plans to attend Colorado State University in fall 2015. She is the daughter of Kelvin and Jean Brockel. Throughout her youth, Brockel has participated in Farmers Union youth programming. She credits the program with giving her confidence. "I was an awkward, self-conscious kid. But in middle school, I began attending Farmers Union State Camp. I realized that the way I perceived myself was not the way other people did. The kids I met at State Camp thought I was fun and were interested in me. I learned how to speak in public and that also gave me confidence to succeed." A third-generation Faulk County farmer, Jesse Carlson, 17, began attending Farmers Union day camp when he was only 6. During All State's Camp, Carlson said he enjoyed meeting other teens who grew up on farms or in rural communities across the U.S. "I enjoyed learning about the diversity of crops and the different ways people farm in other states." The son of Scott and Amy Carlson, he will be a senior at Faulkton High School this fall. He says he's gained a lot of personal leadership skills through Farmers Union youth programming.


UNION FARMER "From an early age, Farmers Union taught us the rules of leadership and what it means to be a good leader," he says. In the role as NYAC, Carlson is excited to attend the D.C. Fly-In and learn more about policy development. "I'm excited to learn more about the legislative role Farmers Union plays." With two older brothers who served as NYAC's, Alexandra Farber's, 18, involvement in Farmers Union youth programming is a family legacy which she is proud to continue. "Every little sister's dream is to make her big brothers proud," says Farber, a 2015 graduate of Britton-Hecla High School. The daughter of Tom and Lori Farber, Farber plans to attend South Dakota State


Eleven South Dakota Farmers Union youth members earned their way to attend National Farmers Union All-State's Leadership Camp. Front Row: Roger Johnson, Courtney Edgar, Alyson Hauck, Denise Mushitz (chaperone), Kiana Brockel, Tyana Gottsleben Back Row: Alex Farber, Jesse Carlson, Jason Hanson, Christopher Nemec, Dayton Trujillo


University this fall to pursue degrees in Theatre and Advertising. Involved in Farmers Union youth programming since she was 6, Farber says through the opportunities, experiences and training, she's gained leadership skills that will carry her into her future. "Farmers Union opened up a different world of leadership that I can see impacting my entire life," Farber says. "Because of my involvement, I am a much more well-rounded individual who is interested in what happens in my rural community and the world around me." To learn more about Farmers Union Youth programming, contact Geyer at or 605-352-6761 ext: 125; or visit I



UNION FARMER 2015 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament Raises $10,000 for Agriculture’s Next Generation Fun and raising funds for the next generation of agricultural leaders was the focus of the 2015 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament which was held June 16 at the Lakeview Country Club in Mitchell. More than 70 participated in the annual event.



The winning team was the Foster Farmall Team: Mitchell Foster, James Benning, Jameson Clarke and Todd Foster.


Best Dressed went to the Kingsbury Kingpin Team: Wayne Soren, Dave Jones, Doug Kazmerzak and Jason Soren.


UNION FARMER Around the State With Farmers Union Read on to learn how South Dakota Farmers Union members and staff are making a difference in rural communities across South Dakota.

Travis & Natasha Smith Win the Membership Incentive Prize To help celebrate 100 years of dedicated service to South Dakota farmers and ranchers, SDFU presented a $1,000 membership incentive prize to Travis and Natasha Smith of Harrold. The Smiths entered the drawing when they purchased a 30-year membership. Jonnie Zvonek, from Wessington, entered the drawing when she signed up for a two-year membership. Jonnie received an iPad. I Karla Hofhenke presenting the Ipad to Jonnie Zvonek's great nephew, Colton McNeil.

Travis and Natasha Smith family of Harrold receiving the Grand Prize of $1,000 presented by Executive Director, Karla Hofhenke.

S.D. High School Rodeo Family Meal Yellow Dime Day Farmers Union partnered with Prairie Ag Partners of Lake Preston to host Yellow Dime Days June 18, 2015. Locally produced, ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel which saves consumers nearly 30 cents per gallon at the pump compared to petroleum's unleaded. To increase awareness, during Yellow Dime Day, for every gallon of ethanol drivers purchased, they received a yellow dime in return. I

South Dakota Farmers Union fed several hungry cowgirls, cowboys and their families during the 2015 South Dakota State High School Rodeo Finals held in Belle Fourche this June. Josie White of Timber Lake received the door prize. I

Eat Local, Live Well

Lyman County Farmers Union Scholarship During this Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) event, which Farmers Union hosted at the Aberdeen Farmers Market, Jill Haberman (far right) from Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society gave a presentation to encourage buying locally grown products and the benefits of Farmers Market products. Sec. of Agriculture, Lucas Lentsch, also attended the event (far left) and is pictured here with Erin Wilcox, SDFU Rural Development Coordinator (center), who organized the event. I


Trey Mundlien, son of Sandy Mundlien and grandson of George and Betty Mundlien of Kennebec, has been awarded the Lyman County Farmers Union Scholarship. His goal is to attend SDSU for a medical/nursing degree to become a traveling nurse. He later plans to return to school to become a pediatric doctor. I




UNION FARMER 2015 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Winners Announced T

he South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, in cooperation with Farmers Union Insurance Agency, have announced the recipients of the eighth annual Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow scholarships. Twenty-five high school seniors from across South Dakota will share $25,000 in scholarships to be used to further their education at a South Dakota post-secondary school. Over the past eight years, the Foundation has awarded more than $175,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools. Each of the 25 scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 to put toward their postsecondary education at a South Dakota college, university or technical school. The recipients were chosen from among a large pool of applicants. They were scored based on a combination of academic record, activities and awards, financial need, and an essay relating to how they will “Insure a Brighter Tomorrow” in South Dakota. Farmers Union Insurance agents throughout the state fund this scholarship program administered by the Farmers Union Foundation. “Our insurance agents are committed to building a brighter future in South Dakota,” said Wayne Bartscher, Regional Manager of Farmers Union Insurance Agency. “We’re committed to giving back to our communities, and this is a way we can help Baylee Relf shape the lives of future Daughter of leaders and build our Brian & Julie Relf state for tomorrow.” I Flandreau Public High School

Sydney Fosness

Catherine Leber

Peyton DeJong

Dusti Littau

Daughter of Nick & Jenny Fosness Britton-Hecla High School

Daughter of Brian & Melissa Leber Parker High School

Daughter of Travis & Pamela DeJong Philip High School

Daughter of Curt & Amy Littau Winner High School

Jordan Aspen

Hunter Leighton

Jordanne Howe

Abbigail Boner

Daughter of Brian & Teresa Aspen Belle Fourche High School

Son of Doug & Julie Leighton Sioux Valley Schools

Daughter of Lance & Shirley Howe Redfield High School

Daughter of Harry & Mary Jo Boner Castlewood High School

Anthony Tuschen

Karee Wicks

Sentel Johnson

Jonathan Linke

Son of James & Amy Tuschen McCook Central High School

Daughter of Terry & Robin Wicks Rutland High School

Daughter of Linda Johnson Belle Fourche High School

Son of Henry & Paula Linke Woonsocket High School

Sara Heyn

Madisyn Waage

Chantel Reuer

Hannah Jorgensen

Braeden Edleman

Rachael Severson

Daughter of Steven & Jodi Heyn Chester Area School

Daughter of Barb Haas & Tom Waage Aberdeen Central High School

Daughter of Johnny & Carol Reuer Hamlin High School

Daughter of Kelly & Anita Jorgensen Viborg-Hurley High School

Son of Jason & Ann Edleman Huron High School

Daughter of Michael & Amy Severson Ipswich Public High School

Sydney Cowan

Lucas Sternhagen

Austin VanDerWeide

Jennifer Olinger

Mattisen Kelley

Tyson Jenkins

Daughter of Treg & Renee Cowan Highmore-Harrold High School

Son of Craig Sternhagen Groton Area High School

Son of David & Jeannie VanDerWeide Watertown Senior High School

Daughter of Bill & LaVonne Olinger Bridgewater-Emery High School

Daughter of Jennifer Kelley & Jamie Kelley Custer High School

Son of Todd & Brenda Jenkins Clark High School





UNION FARMER Enroll in the 2015-2016 Rural Economic & Leadership Development Program Today


armers Union Rural Economic and Leadership (REAL) Development Program is looking for committed leaders from farms, ranches and rural communities across South Dakota to enroll in the 2015-2016 class. “Farmers Union is committed to developing leaders within rural communities,” explains Erin Wilcox, SDFU Rural Development Coordinator of the program Farmers Union sponsors. “Whether you are interested in serving as a board member, thinking about participating in local or state politics or taking the next step personally or professionally, REAL is designed to help individuals advance their leadership and communication skills.” In its seventh year, REAL was designed to fill a void many working on farms, ranches or for small rural businesses experience. “Here’s the thing, those working in corporate America often have access to professional development training sponsored by their companies. Small businesses or family farming or ranching operations in South Dakota don’t have the

capital to invest in this type of training, so Farmers Union developed REAL,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President. This adult leadership program is open to Farmers Union members across South Dakota with the purpose of improving leadership and communication skills. REAL is $50 for members and non-members. Along with enrollment in REAL, non-members receive a one year free Farmers Union membership. “This program provided me with a wellrounded approach to leadership and touched on many different areas that I encounter as a community leader,” said Kellie Ecker, NESD Business Advisor, South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. “Through the interaction with my REAL classmates, I found my long-held beliefs were confirmed…leadership development is not just a workplace phenomenon. This group of individuals really is committed to making their communities better as well.” Throughout the year, REAL hosts three two-day sessions. Each with a unique focus, the

sessions are packed with top notch presenters and industry experts covering topics ranging from identifying your personal strengths and how to best implement those strengths when working with others to understanding policy development and how to effectively communicate with the media. “Each session is carefully developed to help participants grow personally and professionally; improve their leadership and communication skills; as well as become more involved in their communities,” Wilcox says. “Although each session has a unique focus, this year we are trying something new and will be bringing some speakers back to build upon their presentation over multiple sessions. We are excited about the ability this gives our class members to really dig deep into topics.” REAL is limited to 30 class members. Sessions will be held in November 2015, February 2016 and March 2016. If you are interested in being a part of the 2015-2016 class, contact Wilcox at or call her, 605-352-6761 ext. 118. I

S.D. Attorney General’s Office Provides S.D. Farmers Union with Title & Explanation Ahead of Schedule


oday, the S.D. Attorney General’s Office provided South Dakota Farmers Union Board of Directors with the title and explanation language for the Constitutional Amendment addressing Legislative Redistricting. Board members are pleased with the prompt response of the Attorney General’s office in processing their request ahead of schedule. “Now is the time to act,” said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. “A nonpartisan, Redistricting Commission empowers voters allowing them to choose their legislators, not the other way around. With the guidelines established in the Constitutional Amendment, this new commission will end the harmful practice of gerrymandering and restore voter participation in South Dakota.” #SDRtThing2Do Coalition South Dakota Farmers Union has united with a number of organizations to form the #SDRtThing2Do Coalition. This coalition looks to be a positive force in South Dakota and will begin collecting petition signatures for a Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting very soon. Before voters have the opportunity


to vote this Constitutional Amendment into law, the group will need to collect 27,741 signatures to get it on the Nov. 2016 ballot. “For too long we have had misrepresentation as a result of poor redistricting practices,” said Wayne Soren, South Dakota Farmers Union Vice President. “South Dakota Farmers Union, along with the other organizations, chose to amend the state’s Constitution as it pertains to redistricting because it is the right thing to do.” Redistricting details Below is the title and explanation provided by the South Dakota Attorney General’s office: Title: An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission Explanation: State senators and representatives are elected from within legislative districts. The South Dakota Constitution currently requires the Legislature to establish these legislative districts every ten years. This measure removes that authority from the Legislature and grants it to a redistricting commission. The commission is made up of nine registered voters selected each redistricting year by the State Board of Elections from a pool of


up to 30 applicants. This pool consists of applicants registered with South Dakota’s two largest political parties (ten from each) and ten not registered with either of those parties. A commission member must have the same party registration, or be registered as unaffiliated with a party, for three continuous years immediately prior to appointment. No more than three commission members may belong to the same political party. For three years immediately prior to and three years immediately after appointment, commission members may not hold office in certain state or local public offices, or in a political party organization. The commission will redistrict in 2017, in 2021, and every ten years thereafter. The commission must produce a draft map and allow for public comment. The districts must be drawn in compliance with state and federal law. To learn more about #SDRtThing2Do Coalition and learn how you can sign the petition or volunteer to collect petitions, contact Mark Remily, #SDRtThing2Do Coalition Campaign Coordinator at 605-352-6761 ext: 117, 605-228-1730 or I




The Family Who Ranches Together Stays Together

David & Brenda Reis (center) with David's mom, Peggy, their four children, (left to right) Shawn, Shane, April and Zane, their spouses and children. Courtesy of Darcy Krick Photography


wo ranch kids raised on horseback, David and Brenda Reis, both take great joy in ranch work. Since the beginning, the couple made a point to foster an environment on their Lyman County ranch where the entire family could enjoy time working together. “Time with family is the whole idea,” explains David, the third generation Reis to raise cattle and kids on the rangeland located near the mouth of the White River. “Before we were even married we talked about the fact that we wanted this to be a family ranching operation where the kids would feel like they fit right in – where we all can have fun together.” If you ask their four children, the couple,



who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this August, succeeded. “My parents are just fun people. Growing up, they used everything as a learning experience –don’t get me wrong, we worked hard – but it wasn’t just about getting the work done, it was about enjoying the time we had together,” explains April, who owns South Dakota Mail Forwarding, a business in Chamberlain. Now married to Danny Elwood with four children of her own, she appreciates the fact that her children Haleigh, 12; Keeleigh, 10; Wiley, 8; and Oakleigh, 5, also have the opportunity to share in the ranching lifestyle and work on the ranch. Her brothers all agree.


“Today, we get the most enjoyment out of helping on the ranch because when we are working, all our kids are with us and we get to watch the cousins work together. Mom and Dad always take time to make sure the kids are involved,” says Shawn, who is the livestock manager for Christiansen Land & Cattle. Shawn is married to Heidi and has three sons: Buster, 12; Swade, 10; and Rope, 7. Whether it’s carrying the nut bucket or bottle feeding a calf, like their parents, even at a young age, the Reis’ grandkids are included in ranch work. “You see a lot of families who don’t hardly know the rest of the family – since we are all right here, our kids are really good friends with their cousins,” says Zane, who owns fencing and pheasant guiding businesses. Zane is married to Angie. The couple has three children: Collin, 15; Jozie, 5; and Sawyer, 3. Although they do raise some of their own hay, it is not enough to sustain the herd through a South Dakota winter so the Reis family has to purchase hay each year. A few years ago Zane purchased adjoining land to increase the family’s access to hay. “I’m trying to make room for my kids so they can grow up similar to how I did. Working on a ranch gave me a good work ethic and it seems like we all appreciate what we have because we had to work for it.”



Even at a young age, the Reis’ grandkids are included in the ranch work. Here they are ready to get started on branding day.

Work that Sustains the Lifestyle We Love Established on the rough terrain of the Missouri River Breaks, the land which makes up the Reis Ranch today looks much the same as it did when buffalo, not cattle, grazed the native prairie grasses. The family has invested in conservation efforts since David’s grandpa, Andy Reis, purchased the land in 1934 and expanded to the present location in 1951 after the Corps of Engineers bought out the headquarters along the Missouri River for flood control. “Most of this land is too rough to farm – you can’t even drive a 4-wheeler on a large percentage of it – however, conversely we do have some very tillable native acres. We could have farmed it, but we chose not to because we believe in maintaining the native range and take a lot of pride in the wildlife habitat we’ve been able to foster,” says Shane, the District Conservationist for Lyman County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He is married to Tessa. The couple has a two-year-old daughter, Arista.

Over the years the family has enhanced their conservation activities on the ranch by such things as reducing tillage on cropland, planting trees for wildlife and cattle, excluding use on some riparian zones, and experimenting with cover crops in their rotation. Using many of these practices has assisted the family in expanding the herd size for the next generation. To increase stocking rates and improve the grassland health, they have also added miles of cross fencing and pipelines. Although rotational grazing makes more work for David and Brenda, it has paid off. During the 2012 drought, the family was able to maintain their herd numbers. “In dad’s time it was just big 2,000-plusacre pastures where you’d turn the cows out in the spring and round them up in the fall. Today, I move them when the grass is ready to be grazed,” explains David. After purchasing additional grassland in the mid1980s, they began renting the home place from his mom, Peggy, in 1989. He and Brenda took over ownership of the ranch gradually in the last decade. A few other things have changed since David’s father, Gordon, or “Bus” as everyone called him, passed away in 1980. For one thing, the couple pushed calving back to May 1 and, now that the kids are no longer living on the ranch to help with night calving, the couple learned that if they feed heifers in the

Three Generations of family working together.



evening, they are more likely to calve during daylight hours. “The kids are here when we need them, but not at night,” Brenda explains. When it comes to recordkeeping, the Reis’ have also been quick to adopt technology. Brenda maintains digital feed and calving records. This comes in handy because although they graze side-by-side, the five cattle herds remain separate on paper. At the end of the year, each family member pays pasture rent and feed costs based on their herd numbers. Although the family is savvy in adopting new and more efficient ways to manage their land and operation, many of techniques the family uses to work cattle mirror those of their ancestors. “We had a talk a few years ago and decided, as a family, that we would limit the use of ATVs and keep working cattle from horseback and stick with other traditional methods, like roping and dragging for branding,” Shane explains. “First of all, we believe these methods cause less stress on the animals, can be more efficient in time management, and most importantly they are the very aspects of the work that we enjoy.” Shane recalled how just a few weekends ago all three generations of Reis were helping with branding. “We enjoy the traditional culture of ranching and the fact that we can all do this together. Even the youngest grandchild, my daughter, Arista, was on a horse. Working and having fun as a family will secure the ranch and our ranching lifestyle for the next generation.” To see photos of the Reis family working cattle and view a photo gallery of the Reis Ranch, visit I by Lura Roti, for SDFU Photos by Brenda Reis and Darcy Crick Photography



UNION FARMER Cooperative Highlight: Farmers Union Oil Cooperative of Ferney Provides Local Access to Fuel & Agronomy Products & Services


ecause no private oil companies were interested in setting up shop in the small farming community of Ferney, in 1943 a group of local farmers joined together to form the Farmers Union Oil Cooperative of Ferney to provide the community with local access to fuel. Today, the cooperative has expanded beyond petroleum products to serve its patrons’ agronomy needs as well, explains Troy Zoellner, the co-op’s board president. “The cooperative has expanded to meet our patron’s needs. It’s our goal to remain

profitable and competitive because we know that in a tight-knit community like Ferney, it’s important to provide these products and services locally.” Zoellner adds that as a crop and dairy farmer, he appreciates doing business with the cooperative versus private agronomy and petroleum firms because the money he spends not only stays in his community, but a portion of it is returned to him through patronage. “Doing business with the cooperative also ensures that the doors stay open so these services remain local,” he

$5,000 Donated to Farmers Union Foundation Endowment

says. This winter the cooperative expanded its petroleum and fuel coverage area when it purchased a gas station/bulk fuel plant in Conde. Under the management of its General Manager, Dewy Lerew, Ferney cooperative currently has nine full-time employees and two part-time employees, who provide agronomic services to farmers within a 25mile radius of Ferney and petroleum/bulk fuel services to residences within a 60-mile radius of Ferney. I

COUNTY COUNCILORS MEETING Thursday, August 6, 2015

Gene Hammond (left) presents a check for $5,000 to S.D. Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke (right), to support youth programming.


ach year, more than 3,000 rural youth participate in Farmers Union education programming. To help fund that programming, Gene Hammond recently donated $5,000 to the Farmers Union Foundation endowment. “This is something I can do to support the rural way of life and the next generation,” says Hammond. Hammond lives near Brandon and has been a Farmers Union member since 1983. As the owner of Traveler’s Motor Club, Hammond works with rural citizens and their families on a daily basis. He says that Farmers Union shares his philosophy of working to support rural America. “I encourage other stakeholders to give back to their rural communities and youth by donating to this endowment,” Hammond says. I



Crossroads Convention Center Huron, SD Free lunch at noon & meeting at 1:00 pm All South Dakota Farmers Union Members are Encouraged To Attend

YOUR POLICY. YOUR VOICE. YOUR CHOICE. Please RSVP to Luanne at 605-352-6761 Ext 0 for Lunch by August 5



UNION FARMER Farmers Union: An Advocate for Ethanol Since the Beginning


lthough his corn has a ways to grow before harvest 2015, like most corn farmers, Orrie Swayze knows where his crop will go once it leaves his Wilmot farm. “Most all of my corn goes into ethanol. Our local elevator supplies a local plant,” says Swayze, 71, who only farms part-time these days, entrusting most of the fieldwork to his son, Patrick. Farmers Union member, Orrie Swayze, played a significant role in the grassroots efforts to welcome the ethanol industry to South Dakota in the mid-80s. Photo by Connie Sieh Groop; Farm Forum.

The Swayze’s corn is among more than 361 million bushels of South Dakota corn converted to ethanol and its co-products each year; supplying an industry which contributes almost $4 billion to the state’s economy annually, according to a 2012 South Dakota State University study. Swayze played a significant role in the grassroots efforts to welcome the budding industry to South Dakota in the mid-80s - a time when, as Swayze puts it, “The whole state’s economy was in the doldrums and our farmers and rural communities were hurting.” Working closely with South Dakota Farmers Union, an organization he has been a member of since 1972, and a few local Legislators, Swayze was one of four farmers who dedicated themselves to advocating for the renewable fuel. “Governor Janklow called the four of us the ‘Ethanol Missionaries,’” he says, recalling the work that he, Roland Pester, Jim Pufhal and Roland Schnable did to get a state-based cash incentive passed. Dollars were raised through a pipeline tax on all petroleum products to encourage ethanol plants to build in South Dakota. “We were always there, lobbying committee meetings and testifying.” New to advocacy, Swayze says he was driven by the knowledge that ethanol could help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. “I’m a Vietnam Vet. My brother was killed over there. I knew oil was at the center of nearly every conflict and I thought, at least I can do this to end this type of war,” says Swayze, a pilot who flew 100 missions over North Vietnam. Along with lobbying the South Dakota Legislature, Farmers Union worked to get the message out about ethanol by working with local groups like the VFW to organize events like the “Drive for Energy Independence.” Swayze took to writing letters to the editor – a skill he continues to hone on his website, “Establishing an ethanol industry in South Dakota became a cause for Farmers Union because, for decades, the price of corn was stuck. It would only move a few cents up or down – and the biggest reason for this was we didn’t have another market to help lower the basis,” explained Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union. “We knew our family farmers and rural communities needed a local market and ethanol brought so many other benefits along with it – including cleaner air and energy independence.” Swayze added, “As members of South Dakota Farmers Union, we believed we could change the face of agriculture through futuristic legislation. And it worked.” Today, Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol, attributes the industry’s success in South Dakota to the


grassroots efforts of Farmers Union and citizens like Swayze. “Farmers Union members were among the first to step up and invest their hard-earned money in ethanol production projects,” Jennings said. He references Farmers Union’s work at the state and federal level to establish state-based tax incentives for ethanol plants. “These programs have been long-phased out because there is no real need for them anymore, but back when some of the first plants were being built in the state – like when the Broin plant was built in Scotland in the mid-80s – it was difficult to get share holders to invest enough money because times were tough on the farm and it was difficult to get lenders to step up to the plate to provide loans that were needed.” As the ethanol industry took hold in rural South Dakota communities, it increased local demand for corn, driving the price per bushel up – prices for other commodities followed. “On average, the ethanol industry generates an additional 25 cents per bushel,” says Tom Hitchcock, Chief Executive Officer for Redfield Energy, a plant which produces 60 million gallons of ethanol and 160,000 tons of dried distillers grain (DDG) and has 42 full-time employees, making it one of the largest employers in Spink County. According to the SDSU study, about 2,000 South Dakotans are employed by the 15 ethanol plants which operate in communities across South Dakota. On average, these employees earn $63,496 annually. These ethanol plants also gave South Dakotans a local industry to invest in. “Commodity prices are down this year, and you wouldn’t believe how many farmers I talk to who say, ‘Thank God I’m invested in the ethanol plants,’” says Sombke. “Their dividends / distributions are getting them through tough times.” What’s next for South Dakota’s ethanol industry? Three decades old, the ethanol industry still keeps its advocates busy. “Now the industry faces another dilemma with the EPA pulling back on its support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” Sombke explained. In March, South Dakota Farmers Union joined with American Coalition of Ethanol and other organizations on Biofuels Beltway March in D.C. to lobby Congressional leaders to encourage the EPA to maintain support of the RFS. “Big Oil is the reason we’re still advocating for ethanol,” Swayze says.

Tom Hitchcock, Chief Executive Officer for Redfield Energy

Swayze goes on to explain that today his motivation to support the growth of the ethanol industry is spurred by recent research that gasoline’s benzene and related tailpipe emissions actually destroy babies’ brain matter before and after birth. “Blending to 30 percent ethanol will nearly eliminate these emissions,” he said. Farmers Union will continue its support of ethanol on the state and national level. “We know that ethanol is good for the earth, agriculture and rural communities. The work Farmers Union is doing today to support the ethanol industry is for future generations of South Dakotans,” says Sombke, who farms with his three sons near Conde.  by Lura Roti, for SDFU




UNION FARMER Roger Johnson National Farmers Union President

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY PASSES In late June, Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or “fast-track,” which allows the executive branch to negotiate international agreements - such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - that Congress can either approve or disapprove, but not amend. Negotiations on TPP will ramp up now that TPA has passed. The U.S. is hosting what may be the final negotiating round in Hawaii at the end of July. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that a final TPP could be sent to Congress before the end of the year. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U.S. has entered into free trade agreements with 20 countries. Under these agreements, many important U.S. laws protecting investors, labor rights, the environment and the U.S. currency have been preempted. There has also been a damaging economic effect. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States had a $505 billion trade deficit in 2014, which represents a three percent drag on the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. NFU will continue to work for a trade policy that prioritizes domestic food production and goods supply chains instead of flawed policies that force family farmers and ranchers out of business, depress wages and export too many of America’s best jobs.

GIPSA RIDER EXCLUDED FROM AG APPROPS In early July, for the first time in years, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed an agriculture appropriations bill that did not include a rider to prohibit U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) funding for implementation of regulations



that promote fairness in marketing for family farmers and ranchers. The appropriations bill must still go through the U.S. Senate and to President Obama, who has threatened to veto the bill for a variety of other reasons. If enacted into law, it will allow the USDA, through GIPSA, to implement basic protections for America’s meat and poultry farmers.

DISAPPOINTING APHIS DECISION The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has decided to allow importation of fresh and chilled beef from some regions of Brazil and Argentina, a move that has potentially devastating consequences for American family farmers and ranchers. These regions have a history of Foot-andMouth Disease (FMD), which puts the economic livelihood of American producers at risk, as it unnecessarily exposes the U.S. livestock industry to a highly contagious disease, with the potential to spread very quickly. An outbreak could result in not only health safety issues, but also quarantine and eradication of animals, a ban on exports, and reduced consumer confidence, all economically devastating risks to American livestock producers. In 2001, an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom (U.K.) resulted in the slaughter or burn of nearly 3 million animals. The epidemic was costly both to farmers and the economy; total losses to agriculture and the food chain amounting to roughly £3.1 billion. A 2002 study conducted by Purdue University and the Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health at APHIS found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the U.K. in 2001 were to strike the U.S., a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result. Fortunately, the House Appropriations Committee has taken action to require


APHIS to complete a risk assessment and further site visits, which will delay importation from these two countries.

COOL Update Canada and Mexico challenged U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) at the World Trade Organization (WTO), contending the law is trade distorting. The WTO issued a ruling in May that stated the law was WTO-compliant, but the way in which it was implemented was not. Canada and Mexico immediately issued retaliation threats in the form of tariffs on U.S. exports to each country. NFU contends, however, that viable options remain on the table that would allow the U.S. to keep its popular labeling law while appeasing WTO demands. The Canadian threats appear premature and exaggerated, because Canada has yet to make a credible case for real economic harm. Looking at a recent report from Dr. Robert Taylor at Auburn University, there is significant evidence indicating that any harm to U.S. trading partners by COOL has been negligible at best, and it is likely attributed to the economic downturn of 2008. A bill to repeal COOL passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in June. The bill went far beyond what the WTO found fault with, as it includes repeal of chicken, ground beef and ground pork. National Farmers Union is urging the Senate to not give in to Canadian rhetoric and instead find a way to give the American public what it wants, which is to know where its food is from. In June, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, DMich., introduced a bill that would make COOL voluntary. The Senate will take up the COOL debate in mid-July. The Washington Corner can also be found at I Information provided by NFU July, 15, 2015


From the President....


Right thing to do “I’ve never stopped trying to do what’s right. I’m not doing it to earn favor with God. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do.” John Wooden, UCLA Men’s Basketball Coach


s a teenager I idolized UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. At the time, I’m sure it was because his teams where the best of the day. As I have aged, I have begun to see him more for his words of wisdom than for his victories on the hardwood. At SDFU our policy is based on the right thing to do. For 100 years we have stood for every family farmer because helping your neighbor is the right thing to do. SDFU demonstrated this again during our 2015 State Convention when delegates adopted the special resolution to do the right thing for all voters in South Dakota by leading the charge to placing an independent legislative redistricting commission in the South Dakota State Constitution. In order to get the Redistricting Amendment on the Nov. 2016 ballot, South Dakota Farmers Union, along with other organizations, formed #SDRtThing2Do Coalition. The Coalition will need to collect about 28,000 signatures from registered voters. To lead this effort, they have hired Mark Remily to serve as the #SDRtThing2Do Coalition Campaign Coordinator. Currently Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution for the State of South Dakota reads as follows: “The Legislature shall apportion its membership by dividing the state into as many single member, legislative districts as there are state senators. House districts shall be established wholly within senatorial districts and shall be either singlemember or dual-member districts as the Legislature shall determine. Legislative districts shall consist of compact, contiguous territory and shall have population as nearly equal as is practicable, based on the last preceding federal census. An apportionment shall be made by the Legislature in 1983 and in 1991, and every ten years after 1991. Such apportionment shall be accomplished by December first of the year in which the apportionment is required. If any Legislature whose duty it is to make an apportionment shall fail to make the same as herein provided, it shall be the duty of the Supreme


Court within ninety days to make such Doug Sombke apportionment.” SDFU President Sounds pretty harmless, right? As long as the Legislature follows the spirit of the Constitution. Once personal preservation, greed and other evil intents like gerrymandering enter the equation, voters are no longer picking their legislators. Just the opposite takes place. Legislators pick their voters – going completely against the intent of the Constitution. Gerrymandering is known as the redrawing of legislative districts to produce a particular electoral outcome. To help us all understand this political term, here is a little history lesson. Gerrymandering is as old as our country. In 1812, Jeffersonian Republicans forced through the Massachusetts legislature a bill rearranging district lines to assure them an advantage in the upcoming elections. Although Governor Elbridge Gerry had only reluctantly signed the law, a Federalist editor is said to have exclaimed upon seeing the new district lines, "Salamander! Call it a Gerrymander." A cartoon-map first appeared in the Boston Globe in 1812. Even though the term "gerrymander" originates here, it dates back even further - some say to Patrick Henry’s drawing Virginia's first Congressional district map so as to make it harder for James Madison to be elected to Congress. In a nutshell, our State Constitutional Amendment will empower voter’s rights establishing an independent commission from voters themselves, not political parties or special interest groups who prey on our state government for their gain. I look forward to anyone who feels this is a worthy cause and wants to do what's right to help gather signatures and support our cause financially. WE NEED ALL HANDS ON DECK; IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! God bless all you do!

South Dakota



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, September, October, November and December. Copies are available for $3.00 per year (included with membership dues), and nonmembers annual subscription is $7.50. Advertising rate is $6.00/column inch. Periodical postage paid at Madison, S.D. POSTMASTER: Address changes to: SDFU, PO Box 1388, Huron, S.D. 57350-1388

Contact SDFU 888.734.8136 • 605.352.6761 1410 Dakota Avenue South, PO Box 1388, Huron, SD 57350

SDFU State Office Staff Karla Hofhenke.......ext. 114 Executive Director Huron Matt Sibley .............ext. 122 Legislative Specialist Huron

Kecia Beranek...............ext. 113 Communications Specialist Miller

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

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

Pam Evenson ..........ext. 116 Administrative Assistant Doland

Erin Wilcox ...................ext. 118 Rural Development Coordinator Alpena

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 ~ Donn Teske, Vice President Doug Peterson, Secretary ~ John Hansen, Treasurer 202.554.1600

The South Dakota Union Farmer is published 10 times per calendar year. Karla Hofhenke, Publisher Lura Roti, Editor ~ Jodie Fenske, Copy Editor Tri-State Graphics, Layout and Design

Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union


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:



Aberdeen Aberdeen Bison Bison Britton Britton Brookings Brookings Brookings Buffalo Clark Doland Doland Faulkton Huron Irene Irene Kadoka Lemmon Lemmon Marion

Darrell Kessler J.R. Johnson Alan Voller Karen Voller Tom Farber Terry Lynde Larry Sutton Nathan Kirby Heidi Fields Jim Erk Lon Reidburn Bonnie Wagner Mark Rozell Jason Lee Blaine Anderson Brendon Hansen Brian Hansen Donna Enders Brad Derschan Carrie Derschan Kevin Albrecht

229-3945 725-3003 393-7839 244-7431 448-5150 448-5150 692-6735 692-6735 881-2830 375-3311 532-3299 635-6511 635-6511 598-6570 352-2130 263-2121 263-2121 837-2144 374-3462 374-3462 941-0650

Menno Mitchell Mitchell Mitchell Mitchell Piedmont Pierre Rapid City Rapid City Rapid City Sioux Falls Sioux Falls Sioux Falls Sisseton Spearfish Sturgis Watertown Webster Webster Winner Yankton

Gary Schelske Richard Hofer Nathan Hofer Andrew Mefferd Jessica Meffered Ce Faulkner Gary Ray Black Hills Agency Kasey Keller Lewis Agency Doug Hortness Brian Hermsen Jeff Nord Erica Steiner Megan Schoon Scott Sabers Todd Nichols Debbie Baumgarn Larry Baumgarn Jeremy Clay James Murphy

387-5555 996-9651 996-9651 222-7979 290-3852 737-0463 224-4123 342-5555 343-4213 342-3585 338-5302 338-5302 338-5302 698-7316 642-8870 347-4507 886-9683 345-2640 345-2640 842-1556 664-2121

July/August Union Farmer  
July/August Union Farmer