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Volume CIV, No. 2 Huron, SD MAR/APR 2019



Sec. of Ag Meets with SDFU


Truth in Labeling Bill Passes

Paul Symens award


Teaming Up for E30




SDFU Celebrates Wessington Farm Family


outh Dakota Farmers Union and Glacial Lakes Energy Cooperative teamed up in Pierre to support E30 Feb. 19, and to celebrate Gov. Kristi Noem’s proclamation that the day would be E30 Day in South Dakota. “Agriculture is looking for a bright light during these tough times – E30 is a bright light,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President. “Farmers Union has been advocating for ethanol since the beginning, today marks an exciting point in this journey.” Ethanol advocate and “missionary,” Orrie Swayze agrees. “We have come a long way and we are getting much closer to tipping

Teaming Up

Continued on Page 4

South Dakota Farmers Union members represent our state during National Farmers Union Convention in Bellevue, Wash. Read more beginning on page 13.

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state’s No. 1 industry and help feed the world. This month we highlight the Johnsen family, Ronalee, Storm, Sydney and Chris. Not pictured, daughter, Rikki Kolquist and son, Ryland Nelson.


reeding cattle with larger, more muscular frames is a Johnsen family tradition. “I grew up hearing genetic talk about how cattle finish and how cattle feed from my dad, grandpa and great-grandpa,” explains Chris Johnsen, a fourth-generation Wessington cattle and crop farmer. And, even though the specific breeds varied, Chris’ dad, Lynn, raises Charolais and Chris raises Simmental, the end goal remains the same. “Our family has always tried to stay away from smaller, more moderate type cattle because we’ve always believed that pounds sell. And, with a good frame, you are going to get more pounds of muscle.” Chris sees raising more pounds of muscle per animal as his way of helping feed a growing population. “It’s always been my goal to gain more pounds on the land I have,” Chris explains. “I believe that as the world population grows, we as livestock producers need to produce more with the same amount of land. It takes the same amount of land to finish cattle at 1,200 or 1,300 pounds as it does to finish cattle at 1,600 or 1,700 pounds.”

Johnsen Continued on Page 2

Union Farmer Johnsen Family

Continued from Page 1

Storm, 16, and Sydney Johnsen, 14, say they enjoy showing cattle because of the time with family and friends.

To accomplish this, Chris works to improve not only his herd’s genetics, but other cattle herds’ genetics as well. The Johnsen family markets bulls and heifers. “We breed cattle that will be compatible for commercial herds. So, we are not targeting just one area. We try to fill a wide range of genetic needs,” Chris explains. When selecting genetics to fill the needs of his customers, Chris reviews each individual cow. “We look at records and then visually

Grandkids Berkley, Boston and Kenna enjoy helping out on the farm.


March/April 2019

inspect each cow and figure out what she is missing and then match her with a sire that will fix whatever she is missing,” explains, Ryland Nelson, Chris’ step-son. Ryland has been working for Chris since 2011, when he left a job coaching hockey in Montana to help out during calving while his mom, Ronalee, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. “My intentions were to go back to Montana. I thought I was just coming out to help for a few months and it turned into me finding my calling. I’ve been working for Chris ever since.” Chris understands what Ryland means when he describes farming as a calling. Chris always knew farming was the career for him. However, it wasn’t until his Grandma Carolyn was ready to sell the farm where she and her late husband, Dale, raised Chris’ dad and his siblings, that Chris had the opportunity to farm full-time. “It didn’t happen right away. We started out with some leased ground,” Chris says. “When we had a place to move back to that was ours, that was the determining factor.” Before he and Ronalee bought the Johnsen family farm, Chris commuted between Wessington and Duluth, Minn.,

where he and Ronalee were raising their family and she had built a thriving financial services business. When they moved to the family farm in 2006, Ronalee, an independent financial consultant, became the commuting professional of the family. Today, she has offices in Miller and Aberdeen and travels to Duluth to serve customers. “You can’t move the family farm. And, I think raising our kids on the farm is something we both wanted,” says Ronalee. Chris wholeheartedly agrees.


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Union Farmer

Sydney with niece, Kenna.

“Farming is a tough lifestyle, but I always knew it was the lifestyle we wanted to raise our kids in because it teaches them responsibility and values,” Chris says. “And, looking to the future, we always wanted our kids to be part of the cattle business.” Chris reflects on the fact that Ryland has purchased some of his own farmground and continues to build his own herd. “There is a lot of sense of pride that Ryland has taken some of what he has learned here and some of his own beliefs and is starting to put them into ag lifestyle of his own too,” Chris says. And, Ronalee was familiar with the Wessington community. “My mom was from Wessington, so I used to come back here to visit grandparents and relatives. That’s how I met Chris,” she says.

Kenna Nelson enjoys helping her dad, Ryland, on the farm.

Chris and Ronalee’s blended family include their oldest daughter, “We breed cattle that will be compatible Rikki Kolquist, her for commercial herds. So, we are not husband, Kenny, and targeting just one area. We try to fill a their children, Berkley and Boston; Ryland and wide range of genetic needs.” his daughter, Kenna; – CHRIS JOHNSEN Storm, 16, and Sydney, 14. Performance matters in the showring & feedyard Showing has always been part of the farming lifestyle Chris values and wanted to share with his children. “I started showing in 4-H when I was about 14. It was a great way to meet people. To this day, a lot of my close friends are people I met through showing,” Chris says. Each year, the Johnsen family travels to about 30 livestock shows. Like their dad, Storm and Sydney enjoy the social aspect of showing cattle. “It’s fun to compete, but in the end, what I enjoy most is to be with my show friends and spend time with my family at shows,” Royal, eighth cow/calf pair at the National explains Storm, a sophomore at Miller High American Simmental Show and Supreme School. “Showing brings me closer to my Row Grand Champion Bull at the Watertown family. It’s a shared interest and we help each Winter Farm Show. other out.” In addition to their purebred herd, the Of the two, Storm says her younger sister Johnsens also raise commercial cow/calf and is better at clipping. So, during shows, she cooperative herds. Three herds mean the does more of the washing while her sister family is calving nearly year-round from middoes more of the clipping. “It’s cool to be January through November – taking a short able to help my older sister, who I look up to, break over December. do something,” Sydney says. You would think that they would be tired Balancing show schedules with homework of calving, but Ryland says this is not the case. and athletic practices keeps the sisters busy. “It’s an exciting time. We have been waiting Ronalee says the entire experience helps nine months to see the result of the new our daughters develop valuable life skills. embryos or matings,” he explains. “Calving “For me, the biggest thing they learn from is essentially result time.” showing is responsibly. You don’t just show Chris says the commercial herd strengthens up at the show ring and show a calf. There the purebred portion of the business. “We is a lot of leg work that goes into it – the background and typically sell about a 900washing, the feeding, the lead practicing and pound animal. It gives us a chance to see how all the chores at home.” well they feed and how productive they can This work pays off. Johnsen cattle be. We get to see if what we are working perform well, bringing home many honors toward for the frame and the genetic profile and awards including: Grand Champion Pen is working.” of Three at the National Western Livestock To see more photos of the Johnsen family, Show; Calf Division Champion at American visit ■ By Lura Roti for SDFU March/April 2019


Union Farmer Teaming Up for E30 During Legislative Day 2019 Continued from Page 1

the big domino,” says Swayze, a semi-retired Wilmot farmer who has advocated for the local, renewable and clean fuel source since the early 1980s. More than 65 South Dakota farmers, ranchers and ethanol supporters traveled to Pierre to celebrate the E30 Day proclamation and thank Gov. Noem for her progressive vision for South Dakota’s agriculture industry – which includes a State of the State Address promise to fuel the state’s fleet on E30. Noem set aside time to meet with Sombke and Glacial Lakes Energy Cooperative CEO Jim Seurer and Marketing Director Marcy Kohl. During this meeting, Noem shared her vision for promoting E30. “The support from Gov. Noem and Secretary of Agriculture Vanneman is amazing,” Kohl says. “Noem’s vision for promoting higher ethanol blends, extends beyond South Dakota. She wants to help spread the momentum we have built for E30 in South Dakota to other states.

Kingsbury County farmers & SDFU members Wayne Soren, SDFU Vice President Rob Lee and Roger Lee.

Noem currently serves as vice chair of the Governors Biofuels Coalition. During their Legislative Day meeting, SDFU and Glacial Lakes Energy committed to aiding her efforts in any way they can. “We look forward to what the future holds,” Kohl says. Inviting Glacial Lakes Energy to share Farmers Union Legislative Day made a lot of sense, says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. “Many of their members are the same South Dakotans we serve – family farmers or ranchers. And, because of our shared support for E30, it only made sense to celebrate and advocate together.” Fourth-generation Watertown farmer, Kevin Bach agrees. “There is a synergy between Glacial Lakes and Farmers Union working together to promote the use of E30,” explains Bach, who traveled to Pierre with his dad, Lowell. Together, the father and son raise corn, wheat and soybeans.


March/April 2019

Governor Noem (center) met with SDFU & Glacial Lakes Energy during 2019 Legislative Day (left to right): Jim Seurer, CEO Glacial Lakes Energy (GLE); Doug Sombke, SDFU President; Marcy Kohl, Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs for GLE; Governor Noem; Glacial Lakes Energy board members, Larry Kahnke, Steve Birkholtz and Dale Christensen.

Like many family farmers and ranchers participating in Legislative Day, the Bachs have fueled up with E30 for many years and have not experienced any issues. Frederick farmer John Sumption echoes Bach’s comments, he shares, “I burn E30 in all our vehicles, all the time. Its octane levels are good, and we have not had any issues – the mileage is good and the engines last.” Recently introduced to E30, District 3 Rep. Drew Dennert has been equally impressed. “I like (E30) a lot and didn’t notice any issues,” explains Dennert, who participated in the E30 Challenge promoted by Glacial Lakes Energy in Aberdeen. “And, it’s great to fuel up with E30 because I know our state’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and by using this homegrown fuel, we can help.” Wessington Springs’ farmer Scott Kolousek would like to see city and county governments follow Noem’s lead. “Agriculture built these rural communities, so it only makes sense that local governments consider fueling up their vehicle and equipment fleets with fuel that is made with local corn.” Petri-dish protein, elder care and industrial hemp This was Kolousek’s first SDFU Legislative Day, and the new Jerauld County Farmers Union President says he plans to make time for this event each year. “It’s important that Farmers Union policy gets shared with the individuals who actually make the laws,” Kolousek explains. “It doesn’t do any good to come up with policy if lawmakers don’t agree.” And, even though Kolousek understands that making time is difficult for farmers and

ranchers in his stage of life because of kids’ school events and work waiting to be done on the farm or ranch, he said after attending the 2019 event, it’s worth the effort. “We’re the ones taking over the farm or ranch operations from our parents’ – we have a stake in decisions being made in Pierre,” Kolousek says. Rob Lee, a De Smet farmer, also familiar with balancing farm work and parenting,

Cheryl Schaefers, Polo farmer and SDFU member, catered a luncheon in the Capitol Rotunda for legislators, SDFU members and E30 supporters.

adds, “It’s our chance to have the governor’s ear and we need to take this opportunity.” Lee also advocated for South Dakota farmers and ranchers during the 2018 SDFU Washington, D.C., Fly-In. Along with E30, the other issues SDFU members discussed with legislators included petri-dish protein, funding for elder care

Union Farmer facilities and industrial hemp. “Pierre is where we need to be to let legislators know what we think about issues impacting our families and communities,” says Roger Lee, Rob’s dad, and a former legislator. Roger served as the District 6 Representative from 1994-1998. “This is where we can let our voices be heard – it’s

the American way.” Boots on the ground advocacy does work. And, South Dakota’s leaders take notice when a large group of farmers and ranchers make time to show up in Pierre, says Brock Greenfield, District 2 Senator and President Pro Tempore. “You folks (SDFU and Glacial Lakes Energy Cooperative) have done a lot

Below are some of the key issues SDFU members visited with legislators about during Farmers Union Legislative Day 2019. House Bill 1191 (HB1191): Update - bill passed 58-8, with four excused, but Gov. Noem vetoed. HB1191 legalizes raising industrial hemp across the state. It is important our legislators understand the following: 1. The 2018 farm bill legalized growing industrial hemp at the federal level, now it’s up to individual states to determine if they will legalize it or not. 2. Neighboring states of North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota have already legalized raising industrial hemp. South Dakota farmers don’t want to be left behind. 3. Industrial hemp is a low-input crop, with positive soil health characteristics and vigor, suitable for growth across our entire state of South Dakota. Petri-Dish Protein (Senate Bill 68): Update - Bill passed unanimously. SB68 would make it law that lab-grown protein should not be labeled as “meat” in South Dakota. Consumers have a right to know what they are buying and those who raise livestock (poultry, pork, beef, lamb, etc.) should not have to share the term “meat” with a mass-produced, chemically-infused product. Ask your representative to support this bill! Nursing Home Reimbursement: Update - turn to page 8 and read the 2019 Legislative Update. There are several bills to increase funding for nursing homes and Medicaid funding in the 2019 Legislature. Because South Dakota did not accept federal subsidies for healthcare, many of our rural elder care facilities are unable to remain open or have staffing issues because they are unable to pay competitive wages, compared to neighboring states which have accepted federal subsidies.

to move the ball forward and advocate for what you believe in by virtue of being here, and by keeping legislators familiar with the issues. If we aren’t going to promote rural South Dakota and the issues that are near and dear to those of us who live there, who will?” Lieutenant Gov. Larry Rhoden agrees. “In South Dakota, agriculture is king. I always say it’s an understatement when people say it’s our No. 1 industry, because we are 10 times the economic impact of the No. 2 industry. This is where decisions that impact our industry are made, so it is critical agriculture has a big presence in Pierre during the session.” To learn more about the SDFU policy and the 2019 Legislative Session, visit www.sdfu. org. ■

Wessington Springs Farmer Scott Kolousek Recognized with Silver Star


erauld County Farmers Union President and Wessington Springs farmer Scott Kolousek was recognized by National Farmers Union with the Silver Star Award. “We appreciate the time Scott and his family have invested in helping grow our grassroots organization,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President. “Many times, your friends or neighbors are interested in belonging to Farmers Union and they simply need to be asked.” The Silver Star Award is the highest award National Farmers Union gives to members for membership recruitment. “A strong grassroots network is the backbone of a farmer-led organization,” says NFU President Roger Johnson. “Our peer-driven approach to membership and outreach is what keeps our organization rooted in rural America, and I am honored to recognize the efforts of these dedicated leaders.” ■

SDFU President Doug Sombke, Scott Kolousek and NFU President Roger Johnson.

March/April 2019


Union Farmer Passing House Bill 1191 Provides New Crop Option for South Dakota’s Farmers & Ranchers



outh Dakota Farmers Union applauds the South Dakota State Legislature for passing House Bill 1191, March 11, and is disappointed by Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to veto the bill which would have legalized raising industrial hemp. Legislators passed House Bill 1191 with a vote of 58-8 with four excused. The bill supported the 2018 farm bill which legalized raising industrial hemp at the federal level. “Passing House Bill 1191 is forward thinking by our state’s legislature. I’m disappointed the bill was not signed into law as it would have opened doors to processors and allowed our family farmers and ranchers to remain competitive with surrounding states which have passed similar bills,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourthgeneration Conde crop and cattle farmer. Industrial hemp is a hardy, drought-

tolerant plant, well suited to growing conditions on both sides of the river. Agriculture states surrounding South Dakota have already legalized raising industrial hemp, opening the doors for their farmers and ranchers to explore production and marketing opportunities. House Bill 1191 incorporated nearly all amendments suggested by Noem. “Montana farmers and ranchers are expected to plant 75,000 acres in 2019. It’s the law in North Dakota and Wyoming’s governor signed it into law the week before Gov. Noem vetoed the bill. As an organization committed to supporting South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers, we are disappointed Gov. Noem would not sign the legislation which will put South Dakota on par with every surrounding state,” Sombke says. ■

Farmers Union Enterprises Launches Ag-Based STEM Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms


armers Union Enterprises recently released STEM:IT AG, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum focused on agriculture, food and natural resources for kindergarten through 12th grade students.. “Talk about making science relevant – all students eat,” says Doug Sombke, president of Farmers Union Enterprises and South Dakota Farmers Union. “We are excited to share this curriculum which integrates STEMbased information into interactive units about agriculture and where food comes from with educators and students throughout the nation.” The curriculum is a joint effort between five Farmers Union state organizations (Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin), which comprise Farmers Union Enterprises, based in Redwood Falls, Minn. Farmers Union Enterprises partnered with the design group, STEM Fuse to produce and distribute the curriculum. “Collaborating with the Farmers Union Enterprises team, we designed the curriculum to easily integrate ag-based STEM education in any unit teachers are focusing on,” explains Carter Tatge, founder and CEO of STEM Fuse.


March/April 2019

“You don’t need a STEM background or an agriculture background to provide STEM:IT AG to students. In fact, the curriculum requires little guidance from educators.” Miranda Letherman, North Dakota

Farmers Union youth education specialist, said the curriculum also exposes students to potential careers, everything from computer coding and three-dimensional (3D) printing to developing agricultural commodities. In one STEM:IT AG challenge, students create a tool that could be used to harvest a crop, while another challenge asks them to design a solar oven from a shoebox, tinfoil and black paper to heat up food using the sun’s energy. “The hands-on challenges incorporate recycled materials and things you’d typically find in a classroom, so the activities aren’t costly,” Letherman says. She noted that

some of the filaments used in the 3D printing actually come from farm byproducts. “All of us use engineering and design skills in our everyday lives without consciously knowing it. It’s good old-fashioned problem solving, and the curriculum works to hone those skills.” STEM:IT AG exercises will be incorporated into Farmers Union state youth programming. “Educating youth on agriculture is one of the key focuses of Farmers Union, as our organization works to support family farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” Sombke says. Intuitively designed to integrate seamlessly into existing K-12 curriculum and compliment all topics, whether it’s STEM, social studies, history or language arts, the digital STEM:IT AG curriculum aligns with state and national standards and works across all platforms. To learn more, contact Rachel Haigh-Blume, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director at 605-352-6761 ext. 125 or rachel@ To order STEM:IT AG, visit www. or call STEM Fuse’s National Sales Director Stephanie Spaan at 605-5219213. ■

Union Farmer S.D. Farmers Union Does Not Support Brown Nomination to Farm Credit Systems Board


outh Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke urges the Senate Agriculture Committee to stop the nomination of Rodney Brown to the Farm Credit System Administration Board. Brown is the immediate past president and CEO of the California Bankers Association and a past member of the American Bankers Association board of directors. “The reason I raise concern over Brown’s nomination is his connection to the American Bankers Association,” explains Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde, S.D., farmer who leads one of the state’s largest farm and ranch organizations. “It’s no secret the American Bankers Association opposes the business structure of the Farm Credit System. In fact, American Bankers Association lobbied Congress to change the structure of the Farm Credit System.” Farm Credit System provides competitive banking and loan services designed to support young and beginning farmers and ranchers. Many family farmers and ranchers across the nation depend upon Farm Credit System and changing the structure could have a

devastating impact on those families. “Farm Credit System has been a lifeline when it comes to the financial needs of family farmers and ranchers,” Sombke says. “Considering the current tough economic situation facing those individuals and families working in agriculture, it is irresponsible to place Brown on the board because of his close affiliation with the American Bankers Association and that organization’s known opposition of Farm Credit System.” Contact the Senate Ag Committee Sombke calls upon those working in agriculture and supporters of family farmers and ranchers to contact members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and urge them to stop Brown’s nomination. “The Senate Agriculture Committee is responsible for giving advice and consent to the administration’s nominees, if they do not support this nomination, there is an opportunity for a qualified leader who has agriculture’s best interests in mind, to sit on the Farm Credit System board,” Sombke says. South Dakota’s Sen. John Thune can be reached at 1-866-850-3855 or email him through his website at www.thune.senate.

gov/public/. Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee include: Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) Sen. John Thune (SD) Sen. Deb Fischer (NE) Sen. Joni Ernst (IA) Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT) Sen. John Boozman (AR) Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) Sen. John Hoeven (ND) Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) Sen. Michael Bennet (CO) Sen. Mike Braun (IN) Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA) Sen. Tina Smith (MN) Sen. Richard Durbin (IL) “Our President told us he was for the farmer. Rescinding this nomination would affirm his commitment to farmers and ranchers,” Sombke says. To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit ■

March/April 2019


Union Farmer

Lake Area Tech Students Travel to Minneapolis for Cooperative Trip


South Dakota Farmers Union sponsored Lake Area Technical Institute students to attend the annual National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives.

ooperatives make the world go round in both rural and urban areas. That is the message Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) students took away from their recent College Conference on Cooperatives trip to Minneapolis. “Co-ops are our lifeline. They supply us with our yearly inputs and we rely on them for the sale of our commodities,” says LATI Ag Instructor Jeffrey York. “This conference is a great tool to get a full appreciation on how the cooperative business model works and this allows for better relationships with our business partners.” The three-day conference is a fun, interactive experience for agriculture’s next generation of leaders and operators. The conference is designed to show the importance, structure and operations of

2019 Legislative Update

various cooperatives. It’s just one of the ways South Dakota Farmers Union invests in cooperatives and education. “The more you understand about cooperatives, the more likely you are to get involved,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President. “Getting young people involved as employees, leaders and board members is key to the cooperative structure and putting profits back into communities.” The participants visited diverse and nontraditional cooperatives including Mississippi Market Food Co-op, Valley View Senior Housing Co-op, Seward Co-op and REI. In addition, they had time for fun, visiting the Mill City Museum, a river-front landmark built into the ruins of what once stood as the largest flour mill in the world. “The urban cooperatives are a different


he main run of the 94th session of the South Dakota Legislature finished up at 3 a.m. on March 13. The last bill of the session By Mitch Richter to pass was SB 191 which sets the budget The 2019 Legislative Session just wrapped up. Our priorities for the state eyes and ears, lobbyist Mitch Richter, wrote the with a $4.87 billion following update reflecting on the issues and policy budget. that impacts South Dakota Farmers Union members. Highlights of the budget include a Band-Aid for nursing homes to include a 10 percent increase for Medicaid reimbursement. This will give a slight increase


March/April 2019

look than what we normally experience in our areas,” says SDFU Education Director Rachel Haigh-Blume. “My favorite part was the day we spent touring cooperatives, particularly Valley View Senior Housing,” says LATI student Courtney Mason, who is majoring in agribusiness and commodity merchandising. “I found joy in how happy every resident seemed; it was so easy to see how this cooperative helped and benefitted its members.” Mason also enjoyed the Home Care Worker Cooperatives, a co-op which lowered the average turnover rate of caregivers, by offering them higher wages, benefits and profit sharing. Fellow agribusiness major Libby Absher adds, “The trip truly captured my interest by showing us how places were able to modernize a co-op, and how they make it appealing for multiple generations to come.” Several farmers and cooperative representatives offered students insights on cooperative business principles and structures. The students also heard from former president of CHS Foundation William Nelson, as well as Nanci Lilja, the current president. The speakers emphasized the hands-on application of cooperatives and the opportunities cooperatives provide. The College Conference on Cooperatives hosted several schools from across the country and is a program of the National Farmers Union. The following LATI students attended: Braden Bohlman, Jacob Stinson, Caleb Brandt, Keaton Peterson, Dylan Jones, Courtney Mason, Libby Absher, Jacob Helland, Colton Berens, Kyle Friedrichsen, Carter Schwader, Trevor Brueggeman, Devin Faber, Jace Bohn, Shane Simon, Ty Whittlinger and Jeff York, Instructor. ■

to nursing homes and hopefully stave off any further closures in the coming year. Expect nursing home reimbursement to be a top priority for the 2020 legislative session to put a long-term funding plan in place. Education will receive a 2.5 percent increase in funding and state employees will see their salaries rise by 2.5 percent as well. South Dakota Farmers Union supported House Bill 1191 the hemp bill as it worked its way through the legislative session. It had almost unanimous support in the House and 20 strong votes in the Senate. However, the governor was not supportive from the beginning of session and ended up vetoing the bill with arguments that the state wasn’t ready, law enforcement would not be able to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, and hemp would open the door to legalization of marijuana. All of these arguments were rebuked by

Legislative Update Continued on Page 22

SDFU Members Sit Down with S.D. Sec. of Agriculture During Legislative Day 2019

Union Farmer


uring Legislative Day 2019, county presidents and state board members had the opportunity to sit down with the S.D. Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman to discuss issues important to SDFU members. During the discussion, Secretary Vanneman discussed her strong support for Gov. Noem’s decision to fuel the state fleet with E30. “The messaging is huge. We are growing it and producing it and we are using it in the state fleet,” she says. Vanneman also touched on some reasons the industrial hemp bill may be put on hold. Kim Vanneman “The one thing about it (industrial hemp), clearly it is a different commodity than corn or beans; a commodity that just came off of the controlled substances. There are many unknowns, and things we need to be cognizant of,” she explains. She added that the government shutdown complicated the issue because the U.S. Department of Agriculture staff were not available to provide guidance.

SDFU Members Sit Down

Continued on Page 10

March/April 2019


Union Farmer Rural Education and Leadership Gets REAL


ne thing was clear Feb. 6 and 7 in Pierre. Our rural leaders face serious challenges and are serious about solving them. “I am continually impressed by how people balance business, community, family and the round-the-clock job of being a farmer,” says REAL presenter Toby Kane, who worked with the group on marketing, messaging and storytelling. “The REAL attendees are very engaged citizens, heavily invested in the future of South Dakota.” REAL (Rural Education and Leadership) is a South Dakota Farmers Union program that helps rural leaders enhance their skills in budgeting, parliamentary procedure, marketing and more. It aims to encourage their talents and build on them, so they can bring new

REAL participants (front row): Cheryl Schaefers, Orient; Hilary Gray, Pierre;  Kristen Murray, Delmont; Cheyenne Chontos, Sioux Falls; Alan Roth, Sturgis; and Becky Eichastadt, Huron. Back row left to right: Patricia Pudwill, Herreid; and Ben Tiensvold, Sioux Falls. Also joining the photo are SDFU youth, Garrett Krugger, De Smet; and Tyler Hanson, Britton. REAL participants not pictured include: Kelli Erickson, Britton; Suzanne Braun, Gregory; and Katie Hansen, Faulkton.

experience back to their communities. Gerri Ann Eide, GANE Leadership of Gettysburg, has been an active REAL presenter and Farmers Union advocate for years. Skilled in parliamentary procedure, she helps board members, business owners and producers with organization and leadership. “My passion is to help people learn leadership skills so they can succeed. It’s especially meaningful to me when it involves people in agriculture. It humbles me to be part of people building their confidence to step up and do more than they did before,” says Eide. “The Farmers Union REAL program offers hard working, everyday people the opportunity to become leaders in their careers, Gerri Ann Eide, GANE Leadership of Gettysburg, shares tips on presenting and leading meetings with REAL participants.


March/April 2019

Dakota Radio Group News & Farm Director Jody Heemstra (left) conducts practice interviews with REAL participant, Patricia Pudwill, Herreid.

communities and the agriculture industry. This strengthens the future of South Dakota and agriculture.” The REAL program, however, is not limited to those involved strictly in agriculture. It engages other small town professionals whose livelihoods are dependent on it. Ben Tiensvold, Project Coordinator for Sage Project Consultants, appreciated Eide’s session. “Understanding the basics of leading a meeting is essential to all forms of leadership, whether non-profit, organizational or governmental. I now have a greater appreciation of the process.” Sage Project Consultants has offices in both Vermillion and Sioux Falls. Cheryl Schaefers of Polo, is a long-time farm advocate, operator and business owner with a passion for agriculture. “It was wonderful to get training on how to advocate for your cause or career. Having that personal reason of why you do something can make all the difference in connecting you to your audience and customers.’” Schaefers stook part in mock media interviews with Dakota Radio Group News and Farm Director Jody Heemstra. Schaefers adds, “Jody did a great job and the opportunity to be interviewed and watch others be interviewed was very enlightening.” “Reporters and interviews can be intimidating,” says Heemstra.“Some days, it seems as though much of the local news I report is about sad or unpleasant things. Spending time with the REAL class, I get a much needed recharge by meeting some fabulous South Dakotans. I hope the experience gives the REAL class members inspiration to open up and draw positive attention to the people, places and things they enjoy.” ■

SDFU Members Sit Down Continued from Page 9

F o l l o w i n g discussion with Sec. Vanneman, Ryan Brunner, Commissioner of School and Public Lands, joined the group to visit about how private land owners can lease or purchase land from School and Public Lands. He also explained how the agency works with energy companies to earn revenue for South Dakota’s schools. ■

Union Farmer

Legislative Day 2019

March/April 2019


Union Farmer Legislature Passes Senate Bill 68 in Support of Truthful Labeling, Livestock Industry


outh Dakota Farmers Union thanks the South Dakota State Legislature for passing Senate Bill 68, March 4. A win for South Dakota’s livestock industry and consumers, the bill prohibits labeling cellcultured protein as meat in South Dakota. “Senate Bill 68 sends the message that our state’s leaders care about protecting our livestock industry as well as South Dakotans’ right to know where their food comes District 17 Sen. from,” says Doug Sombke, Art Rusch SDFU President and a fourth-generation cattle producer. Truth in labeling is a policy focus for South Dakota Farmers Union. In October 2018, the organization sent livestock producers to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in opposition to labeling cell-cultured protein as meat. SDFU is among the state’s largest family farmer and rancher organizations. At the same time, SDFU launched an effort to educate their members and the general public on the potential dangers labeling cell-cultured protein as meat would have on consumers’ right to know what they are eating as well as the devastating impact it would have on the state’s livestock industry. Senate Bill 68’s main sponsor, District 17 Sen. Art Rusch, credits SDFU’s efforts with motivating him to sponsor the bill. He first learned about District 28A Rep. Oren Lesthe issue by meister with grandson, Trace James, on their fam- reading Farmers Union and the ily’s Parade ranch. South Dakota Stockgrowers newsletters. “I’m not a cattleman. I don’t raise livestock. But, I think it is important that South Dakota take a position to protect


March/April 2019

our livestock industry,” explains Rusch, a retired circuit judge and writer who represents Clay and Turner counties. Agriculture is South Dakota’s No. 1 industry. In 2017, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated livestock value of production in South Dakota at more than $2.8 billion (value of production is primarily derived from a market year average price multiplied by weight of animals marketed). Senate Bill 68 passed unanimously. The bill reserves the term, “meat,” to be used only for protein harvested from animal carcasses, by amending the adulterated and misbranded food chapter of the South Dakota Codified Law code section 39 - 4 to further define the term “meat.” Read the complete amendment here: sdlegislature. gov/docs/legsession/2019/Bills/SB68SAG.pdf. “You see more and more that consumers care about the source, treatment and safety of the meat they eat,” explains District 29 Sen. Gary Cammack, a Union Center cattle rancher and business owner serving as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Our goal is to make sure consumers know when they buy something labeled as meat, it is what they traditionally considered as meat, harvested from an animal’s carcass and proven to be safe.” As a fourth-generation livestock producer, Cammack understands the necessity of Senate Bill 68 to protect consumer trust and South Dakota’s livestock industry. “As livestock producers, we are not afraid of competition. Having said that, we don’t want our competition to build their business on our more than a century old, hard-earned reputation for producing a quality and safe product,” Cammack says. Members of the House agree, says District 28A Rep. Oren Lesmeister. “Our cattle producers spent the last hundred years making sure that U.S. beef is the No. 1, safest meat – we have the most stringent standards and regulations in place to ensure this. Now, if we were to allow this new technology to label its product as meat, and if there was a safety issue with this product, it

could completely collapse our industry,” says Lesmeister, a Parade rancher, small business owner and the bill’s prime sponsor. Now that South Dakotans can trust meat labels, Legislators Rusch, Cammack and Lesmeister are optimistic their actions will impact Congressional leaders to take a stand on the issue. “I hope our state’s representative and senators will take notice and take on this issue at the national level,” Lesmeister says.

District 29 Sen. Gary Cammack (right) talks with Tanse Herrmann, NRCS.

Do your part If you want truth in labeling, contact South Dakota’s Congressional leaders and let them know that you do not support lab-cultured protein being labeled as meat: Rep. Dusty Johnson, call 202-225-2801 or visit website to email gov/; Sen. John Thune, 202-224-2321 or visit website to email public/index.cfm/contact; Sen. Mike Rounds, 202-224-5842 or visit website to email www. To learn more about how South Dakota Farmers Union supports family farmers and ranchers, visit ■

National Convention

Union Farmer

March/April 2019


Union Farmer Parity, Truth in Labeling, E30 & More Discussed During 2019 NFU National Convention


n preparation for the 2019 NFU National Convention, held in Bellevue, Wash., March 3-5, Cheryl Schaefers spent a lot of time reading through South Dakota’s policy book and comparing it to NFU policy. As a delegate elected by members during South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) 2018 State Convention, she took her responsibility seriously. And, her voice was heard.

“The policy portion of National Convention made me feel, as a farmer from South Dakota, that I can really start to make a difference if I speak up,” explains Schaefers, who owns her own catering business and farms with her husband, Fred, and son Paul, near Polo. In fact, the following issues, voted into policy during the 2018 SDFU Convention became part of NFU policy: 1. Truth in Labeling

2. E30 3. Market consolidation 4. Fair trade “Overall, NFU does a good job giving every state an equal chance to be heard. They made sure everyone had a say and a voice,” explains Mike Miller, a Freeman farmer and District 1 board member. Miller and Schaefers were joined on the policy floor by District 4 board member, David Reis, Reliance, and the following delegates:

Policy Explained

SDFU Delegate, Cheryl Schaefers, Polo

SDFU Delegate, Tammy Basel, Union Center

Below is a brief description of the SDFU policy passed and included in NFU policy during the 2019 convention. For links to complete documents, visit Family Farming and Biofuels 2019 Special Order of Business NFU state chapters are supporting ethanol producers in South Dakota, Nebraska and other states who are challenging their communities to use E30 blends in their standard vehicles. Programs like the E30 Challenge in Watertown, S.D., have been hugely successful, and garnered the support of leaders like S.D. Gov. Kristi Noem, who recently signed state proclamation declaring “E30 Day.” Because E30 requires twice the volume of ethanol as E15, Watertown’s ethanol demand growth has approached or exceeded that of E15. Family Farming and The Farm Safety Net 2019 Special Order of Business The recently passed farm bill provides insufficient relief. The Dairy Margin Coverage program is an improvement from its predecessor, the Margin Protection Program. However, the changes do not reflect the severity of existing market challenges and the immediacy of the financial crisis facing family farmers and ranchers. We call on Congress and the administration to build upon the successes of the 2018 Farm Bill and find solutions that will provide significant, long-term solutions to strengthen the farm safety net. Family Farming and Market Concentration 2019 Special Order of Business

National Farmers Union urges Congress to mandate a strict rule blocking every merger where the four largest firms would possess more than 40 perecent of market share. We urge the DOJ and FTC to take action to address oligopsony. Furthermore, we call on the DOJ to support structural antitrust enforcement actions, including breaking up major companies and revising non-horizontal merger guidelines to be more critical of the impacts of vertical consolidation and integration. We also call on Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grant full funding and enforcement powers under the Packers and Stockyards Act and the Agricultural Fair Practices Act and to reinstate GIPSA as a stand-alone agency. Family Farming and Trade 2019 Special Order of Business NFU urges the administration to build a coalition of our trading partners to deal with countries that trade unfairly, resolve trade issues that affect family farms and ensure the WTO can act as a neutral arbiter in trade. Finally, we call on Congress and the administration to work to remove retaliatory tariffs that target family farmers and until they are removed, provide financial support to family farmers impacted by trade disputes. Family Farming and Truth In Labeling 2019 Special Order of Business NFU does not oppose new categories of food being developed and used for cell-cultured proteins and plant-based proteins. However, the products shall not be referenced or labeled as meat, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, etc.

SDFU Delegate, Becky Martinmaas, Orient


March/April 2019

Union Farmer

SDFU Delegate, David Reis, Reliance

Becky Martinmaas, Orient; Tammy Basel, Union Center; Steve Harwood, Union Center; and Lorrie Hanson, Britton. “Our delegates did an excellent job representing the family farmers and ranchers of our state and our grassroots policy,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU President. The policy developed during NFU

Convention is used to guide NFU when they advise Congressional leaders and staff on behalf of members nationwide. Schaefers experienced the results first-hand when she and Fred participated in the 2018 Fly-In. “Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to get involved with Farmer’s Union at the local level and beyond. All county organizations are hurting for active members. Your voice is needed and will be heard. Don’t be silent. We all come at problems from a unique perspective. Maybe YOU hold the key to the solution for today’s challenges,” Schaefers says. “When we work together, it helps everyone, from the farmers, to the many hands that are part of the process of getting the food to the consumer, to the economic security of our nation.” To learn more about how SDFU policy is developed, or to become more involved in your county or district organization, contact Karla Hofehenke, SDFU Executive Director, or 605-350-5976. ■

South Dakota Farmers Union members and staff are making a difference in rural communities across South Dakota.

e t a t S e h t d n u Aro with Farmers Union

During convention, SDFU President, Doug Sombke led a seminar where he discussed the health benefits of E30. He and Steffen Mueller, Ph.D. Principal Research Economist, Energy Resources Center University of Illinois at Chicago, discussed the fact that E30’s octane benefits replace the need for cancer-causing chemicals in fuel. Sombke’s seminar also shared information on Glacial Lakes Cooperative’s successful E30 Challenge in increasing consumption of E30 by more than 600 percent in Watertown and Aberdeen.

Women in Blue Jeans

KELO AM Morning Show

AgFest in Pierre

Watertown SaleBarn Coffee

March/April 2019


Union Farmer

Paul Symens Recognized with NFU Meritorious Service to Farmers Union Award


ational Farmers Union recognized Amherst farmer Paul Symens with the organization’s highest honor during the 117th National Convention held in Bellevue, Wash., March 3-5. The award for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union and American agriculture is designed to recognize individuals and families who have made a major contribution to the betterment of family farm agriculture through their involvement in the National Farmers Union. “Throughout his adult life, Paul Symens has served South Dakota’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. He made time for service, while at the same time, he was busy working with his family on their farm,” explains Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President. Not one to wait for others to do what needs to be done, Symens began serving South Dakota’s agriculture community as a young farmer when his neighbor, who also happened to be the Marshall County Farmers Union President, was ready to step down from office. He asked Symens to run. “I agreed with what Farmers Union stood for and how they backed cooperatives and were involved in policy and rural communities,” Symens says. This was just the beginning of many years of service to South Dakota and National Farmers Union. • Symens served on the South Dakota Farmers Union State Board of Directors. • He served on the National Farmers Union Policy and Marketing Research Committees. • In 1979 Symens was asked to serve on the Farmers Union Industries board. During his 36 years of service, FUI grew to become a multi-million-dollar enterprise. Outside of Farmers Union, Symens served eight years as a county commissioner, 16 years in the South Dakota State Senate and has been actively involved in his church and community, serving on several cooperative boards. In 2004, he was recognized by South Dakota State University with the Eminent


March/April 2019

National Farmers Union recognized Amherst farmer Paul Symens (center) with the organization’s highest honor during the 117th National Convention held in Bellevue, Wash., March 3-5. He is pictured here with NFU President Roger Johnson (left) and SDFU President, Doug Sombke (right).

Farmer honor. In 2010, the Symens Brothers farm turned 100. The farm received the Century Farm honor from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture during the 2016 South Dakota State Fair. Faith & family A family man, Paul and his wife, Faye, raised five children; Patricia, Jill, Jeffrey, Stephanie and Warren and have 12 grandchildren. “I’m thankful and grateful that I have the partner I have in Faye, she has done more things as a parent than I have. Now, saying that, a few years ago, my sons told me that they realized how important faith and God was in our family because on Sundays, I always got up earlier to get the chores done so we could go to church,” he says. “By ourselves we are nothing. Faith and family top everything.” Third-generation South Dakota farmer While some wait until retirement to give back, Symens balanced his service to others with farming full-time, the land that his family has cared for since 1910. The family’s diverse farming operation includes cropground, purebred Limousin cattle and a feedlot. Today, at 75, he leaves the day-today duties to his son, Warren, nephew, Brad, younger brother, John and employees. But, when he first started out, the work of Symens Bros. Farm fell to he and his three brothers, Irwin, John and Herman. Since the beginning, rain – the lack of or over-abundance of – played a significant role in the management decisions made by the

Symens family. For his grandpa, Harm, and dad, Wilbert, the Dust Bowl days made soil conservation and erosion control a focus of their field management. During a 2016 interview with SDFU, his brother, Irwin, recants a 1936 story of their dad planting corn in May which didn’t sprout until September when it received its FIRST rain ... only to be killed by frost at 6 inches. “That same year Dad mowed 160 acres of ground where all that grew was thistles. He stacked the thistles, mixed them with molasses and that’s what he fed the cattle. That was the year I was born,” says Irwin, who is the oldest brother. Implementing novel conservation techniques, like tree belts and strip-tilling earned the men some fame, when in 1936, Harm was featured in Cappers Farmer magazine under the headline, “Uncommon Effort Won Over Drought.” The legacy of conservation continues today; the Symenses manage their fields with no-till and minimal-till techniques to increase water infiltration. They leave half of all corn stubble in the field to build organic matter. In order for the farm to support five families, the brothers and their sons rely more on diversification than expansion. The farm includes a purebred Limousin herd, crops and a commercial feedlot operation. To read more about the Symens Family Farm, read the 2016 article and view a photo gallery at ■

Union Farmer South Dakota’s National Youth Advisory Council Members Speak Out During National Convention


ooking out over the crowd of more than 460 family farmers and ranchers from across the nation, high school senior, Justin Goetz began his speech....and he wasn’t nervous. “Not being nervous was a new experience for me,” explains the Farmers Union member from Selby. “I just kept reminding myself, ‘these are real people just like me, and they Caleb Nugteren are my community.’” Goetz is one of three South Dakota youth who were elected by their peers from across the nation to serve on the National Youth Advisory Council during National Farmers Union All States Camp summer 2018. The other South Dakotans elected to serve are Caleb Nugteren, Canistota, and Jim Brockel, Shadehill. In their role as National Youth Advisory Council members, the men helped plan the 2019 All States Camp, participated in the 2018 D.C. Fly-In and served as pages during national convention where they all were asked to present speeches before the national convention general assembly on

their Farmers Union experience. “Public speaking skills I’ve gained from Farmers Union youth programming prepared me for this speech. And, I have gained social skills and policy development,” says Nugteren. Nugteren says he enjoyed the policy discussion during convention. And, after participating in the Fly-In, sitting in on South Dakota Farmers Union policy development and now serving as a page for the national policy sessions, he has a clear idea of how the grassroots policy advocated for in D.C. is developed. “It was really interesting seeing what each state wanted to change or add to policy,” says Nugteren, who has actively participated in Farmers Union youth programming since he Jim Brockel was 6. Brockel echoed these thoughts. “In D.C., everyone, from all the states, works together for the same policy, but at national convention, you can see delegates from each state are promoting what matters to their

state and their members.” Brockel is a freshman majoring in business at the University of South Dakota. Nugteren graduates in May and plans to attend Black Hills State University. Goetz also graduates in May. He is considering a few different schools and plans to major in political science and economics. “My career choice Justin Goetz has definitely been impacted through my experiences within Farmers Union,” Goetz says. “Going to the Capitol in Pierre, sitting in on committee hearings and sessions and participating in the D.C. Fly-In and getting to visit with Congressional leaders about topics like E30 and tariffs solidified my career choice.” After he completes his undergraduate degrees, Goetz plans to pursue a law degree. To learn more about SDFU Youth Programming, visit or contact Rachel Haigh-Blume, Education Director, at ■

Soil Health Advocate Looks to Bible Story for Advice to Addressing Great Challenge


hen faced with the challenge that is rebuilding the health of 900 million acres of soil, it’s easy to get discouraged, says Keith Berns, a soil health advocate and Nebraska farmer who has been implementing soil health practices on his family’s farm for more than 30 years. “It is an overwhelming task,” says Berns, in a presentation to farmers, ranchers and other South Dakota landowners during the South Dakota Soil Health Conference & Annual Meeting held in Brookings the end of January. “When we look at the task before us, look at 900 million acres of land, the majority of which has experienced significant degradation and loss of productivity. And, it’s not just that we have lost our topsoil, we have lost the carbon in the topsoil that

is left.” After acknowledging the gravity of the situation, and how misinformed management practices of American soil led to the Dust Bowl and the fact that most soil is only at 1 to 2 percent organic matter, Berns’ talk turned motivational as he sought inspiration from the Biblical story of Nehemiah. “When we think about the monumental task of rebuilding our nation’s soils ... I see many parallels to the story of Nehemiah.” The advice Berns discovers in the story of Nehemiah and shares is applicable to great challenges beyond the topic of soil health. In case the name Nehemiah doesn’t ring a bell, a little Sunday School refresher. Nehemiah was the Hebrew slave, living in another country and tasked with

rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed in a battle more than a century before his birth. When all was said and done, Nehemiah led the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s mile-long, 15-foot-tall wall ... IN JUST 52 days! After studying the story, Berns says Nehemiah’s success was based on these three factors: 1. The right leaders 2. The right workers 3. The right tools “When you put those three things together, you can accomplish incredible things,” he says. “If we put these three things

Soil Health

Continued on Page 22

March/April 2019


Union Farmer SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD Each year, South Dakota Farmers Union crafts its Legislative Scorecard in an attempt to educate members about some of the legislation the organization worked on throughout the recent legislative session and to give you an idea where lawmakers stand on the bills important to you. We hope this information proves to be valuable to you as a citizen and voter.

Scorecard Legend Y = Legislator Supported Legislation N = Legislator Did Not Support E = Excused A ‘Y’ vote does not necessarily mean they voted ‘Yes’ during the committee or floor vote. An ‘N’ vote does not necessarily mean a lawmaker voted ‘No.’ Some Yes votes were meant to defeat measures. Some No votes were meant to keep from defeating a measure. House Bill 1191 Would legalize the growth, production and processing of industrial hemp and derivative products in the state.

under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to allow for more money for nursing homes and Medicaid reform.

Senate Bill 4 Sets up a study to allow for classification of agricultural land for property tax purposes using the SDSU soil study.

Senate Bill 149 Allows for the increase of a brand fee and to authorize the expenditure of the fee.

Senate Bill 16 Establishes certain provisions regarding financial security for the decommissioning of wind turbines in South Dakota.

House Bill 1175 Establishes the Early Learning Advisory Council to gather data for pre-kindergarten programs in the state of South Dakota.

Senate Bill 68 Would establish that meat to be labeled as such needs to come from the carcass of an animal. House Joint Resolution 1007 This would allow a referendum to the voters the question of whether the state should expand Medicaid

Senate Bill 15 Defines solar energy facilities, establishes certain provisions regarding solar energy permits and revises the procedures by which the Public Utilities Commission can process solar permits.

STATE SENATE SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Motion to Defer (Y) (Y) (Y) (Y) (Y) (Y) Alignment with Senate Vote HB Senate Vote SB Senate Vote SB Senate Vote SB Senate Vote SB Senate Vote SB SDFU Senator District 1191 4 149 15 16 68 (%)

Blare, Rocky Bolin, Jim Cammack, Gary L Cronin, Justin R Curd, R. Blake DiSanto, Lynne Ewing, Bob Foster, Red Dawn Greenfield, Brock L Heinert, Troy Jensen, Phil Kennedy, Craig Klumb, Joshua Kolbeck, Jack Langer, Kris Maher, Ryan Monroe, Jeff Nelson, Stace Nesiba, Reynold F Novstrup, Al Otten, Ernie Partridge, Jeffrey D Rusch, Arthur L Russell, Lance S Schoenbeck, Lee Smith, V.J. Soholt, Deb Solano, Alan Stalzer, Jim Steinhauer, Wayne Sutton, Margaret White, Jim Wiik, John Wismer, Susan Youngberg, Jordan


March/April 2019

21 N Y Y N Y Y 67% 16 N Y Y N Y Y 67% 29 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% 23 N N Y Y N E 50% 12 Y Y E Y Y Y 100% 35 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% 31 N Y Y N Y Y 67% 27 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 2 Y E Y N Y Y 83% 26 Y Y Y N E Y 83% 33 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% 18 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 20 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% 13 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 25 N E Y Y N Y 67% 28 Y Y N Y N Y 67% 24 N Y N Y Y Y 67% 19 Y Y E N Y Y 83% 15 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 3 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% 6 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 34 N Y Y Y Y E 83% 17 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% 30 N Y E Y Y Y 83% 5 N Y N Y Y Y 67% 7 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 14 Y N Y N Y Y 67% 32 Y Y Y Y E Y 100% 11 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% 9 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% 10 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% 22 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% 4 N Y Y Y N Y 67% 1 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% 8 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% TOTAL 21-14 31-2-2 26-6-3 21-14 29-4-2 33-0-2

Union Farmer STATE HOUSE SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on SDFU Stance on Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Do Pass Vote Motion to Defer (Y) (Y) (Y) (Y) (N) (Y) (N) (N) Representative District

House Vote HB 1191

House Vote HJR 1007

House Vote SB 4

House Vote SB 149

House Vote HB 1175

House Vote SB 15

House Vote SB 16

House Vote SB 68

Alignment with SDFU (%)

Anderson, David L 16 E Y Y Y N N Y Y 75% Bartels, Hugh M 5 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Barthel, Doug 10 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Beal, Arch 12 Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y 88% Bordeaux, Shawn  26A Y Y E N N Y 67% Borglum, Scyller 32 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Brunner, Thomas J 29 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Chaffee, Kirk 29 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Chase, Roger D 22 Y E Y Y Y Y 100% Cwach, Ryan 18 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% Dennert, Drew  3 Y Y Y N N Y Y Y 75% Deutsch, Fred 4 N Y Y N Y Y 67% Diedrich, Michael G 34 Y N Y Y E Y Y Y 88% Duba, Linda 15 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% Duvall, Mary  24 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Finck, Caleb 21 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% Frye-Mueller, Julie  30 Y Y N E Y Y 83% Glanzer, Bob  22 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% Goodwin, Tim  30 Y Y Y Y N Y N Y 75% Gosch, Spencer  23 Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y 88% Greenfield, Lana  2 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% Gross, Randy 8 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% Hammock, Dayle 31 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Hansen, Jon 25 E Y Y Y N Y N Y 75% Haugaard, Steven G 10 Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y 88% Healy, Erin 14 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% Howard, Taffy  33 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% Hunhoff, Jean M 18 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Jensen, Kevin D 16 N Y Y Y N N Y Y 63% Johns, Timothy R 31 E Y Y Y Y Y 100% Johnson, Chris 32 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Johnson, David  33 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Karr, Chris  11 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% Koth, Lance 20 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Lake, John A 23 Y Y Y Y E E 100% Latterell, Isaac  6 Y Y N Y Y Y 83% Lesmeister, Oren L 28A Y Y Y Y E E 100% Livermont, Steve  27 Y E E E Y Y 100% Marty, Sam  28B Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% McCleerey, Steven D 1 Y N Y E Y Y E E 88% Mills, John  4 N Y Y N Y Y 67% Milstead, Rhonda 9 E Y Y Y Y Y 100% Miskimins, Paul 20 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Mulally, Tina 35 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Olson, Jess 34 Y Y Y E N Y 83% Otten, Herman  6 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Perry, Carl 3 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Peterson, Kent  19 Y Y E E E E E E 100% Peterson, Sue  13 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% Pischke, Tom  25 Y Y N N Y Y 67% Post, Doug 7 N Y Y Y Y Y 83% Pourier, Peri 27 Y Y Y N N Y 67% Qualm, Lee  21 Y E Y Y N N Y Y 75% Randolph, Tony 35 N Y Y N Y Y 67% Rasmussen, Nancy  17 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% Reed, Tim  7 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Reimer, Rebecca 26B Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Ring, Ray  17 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% Rounds, Tim  24 Y Y Y Y E E 100% Saba, Michael 9 Y E E E N Y 83% Schoenfish, Kyle  19 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% Smith, Jamie  15 Y N Y Y Y Y N Y 75% St. John, Tamara 1 Y Y E N E E 83% Steele, Manny 12 N E Y E E E 83% Sullivan, Kelly 13 Y Y Y N N Y 67% Weis, Kaleb 2 Y Y Y N Y Y 83% Wiese, Marli  8 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% Willadsen, Mark  11 Y Y Y Y N Y 83% York, Nancy  5 N Y Y N N Y 50% Zikmund, Larry P 14 Y Y Y Y Y Y 100% TOTAL 58-8-4 9-3-1 65-0-5 57-7-6 2-9-2 47-17-6 48-15-7 63-0-7

March/April 2019


Union Farmer Roger Johnson National Farmers Union President


ith the Farm Bill and the USDA funded through the end of September, family farmers and ranchers are finally getting some much-needed certainty and relief. Unfortunately, there may be new challenges to face elsewhere. Though the EPA moved to approve year-round E15 before the beginning of summer, the agency continues to undermine the RFS with the approval of hardship waivers. Additionally, President Trump’s budget proposal would cut the USDA’s budget by 15 percent next year despite agricultural producers experiencing depressed prices, trade uncertainty and oversupply. At NFU’s annual convention in early March, delegates representing the organization’s 33 divisions passed special orders of business pertaining to all of these issues. These policies will guide the D.C. staff’s positions and priorities for the year ahead, and they will ensure that NFU continues to advocate on behalf of its members, family farmers and rural communities. TRUMP BUDGET IGNORES STATE OF FARM ECONOMY In mid-March, President Donald Trump released his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. It marked the third straight year that the president’s budget proposal includes steep cuts to farm, food and rural development programs. Though Congress is unlikely to adopt the vast majority of the president’s recommendations, the budget is a reflection of the administration’s priorities for the coming year. Under Trump’s proposal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive 15 percent less funding in 2020 than 2019. Some departments would be hit harder than others; for instance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – also known as food stamps – would lose 20 percent of its budget. This would theoretically be achieved by both switching the flexible EBT card to a prepackaged “Harvest Box” as well as by tightening existing work requirements further. The White House also proposed cutting crop insurance and commodity program spending by $28 billion. These cuts would be achieved by changing eligibility criteria for commodity programs, capping maximum adjusted gross annual income at $500,000 and reducing the average premium subsidy for crop insurance from 62 percent to 48 percent. The proposal deprioritizes spending across several other USDA agencies as well. Rural Development would lose 12 percent of its funding, largely from programs that assist with rural housing and economic development. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a Farm Bill program that supports renewable energy production in rural communities, would lose all of its mandatory


March/April 2019

funding. Furthermore, the proposal would entirely eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program. Though the president proposes directing additional resources toward rural broadband and opioid misuse, on the whole, the proposal disregards the challenging economic circumstances in farming communities. “Despite the rapid decline in the farm economy, additional damages from self-inflicted trade disruptions, increasing demand for credit, overloaded farm hotlines and deteriorating infrastructure in rural communities, the White House today called for significant cuts to the one department tasked with serving farm families, rural residents and those struggling with food insecurity,” says NFU President Roger Johnson in a statement. “Major relief is needed to weather these tough times in agriculture. It’s time the president’s policy proposals and rhetoric acknowledge the financial pain in farm country.” ETHANOL CONSUMPTION DECLINES, EPA ISSUES E15 WAIVER The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule in March that would allow for the year-round sale of E15, or gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol. E15 has previously been banned during summer months due to concerns about smog, despite evidence that E15 and E10 have comparable effects on air quality. The timing of the proposed rule will hopefully allow EPA to issue a final rule by June 1, thus allowing for the summertime use of E15. Because higher level blends of ethanol, like E15, play an important role in cutting into corn surpluses and in creating new markets for farmers, National Farmers Union (NFU) has long advocated for policies that expand their use. However, it is important to note that even if year-round E15 is implemented promptly, it will do little to offset the EPA’s ongoing misappropriation of smallrefinery waivers, which have allowed refineries owned by multi-national corporations to shirk blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol use dropped by 103 million gallons last year, marking the first time consumption has decreased in the past since 1998. In total, the Trump administration waivers have eliminated demand for at least 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol. To add insult to injury, on National Agriculture Day, EPA announced that it had approved five additional petitions for RFS waivers from the 2017 compliance year. In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson condemned the administration’s persistent actions to undermine the RFS. “The actions on the part of the Trump administration to subvert the will of Congress, undermine the positive growth of the U.S. biofuels industry and destroy demand for U.S.

farm products are appalling,” Johnson says. “The handing out of these waivers to large corporations must end immediately, and the demand that has been destroyed to date must be accounted for in future RFS obligations.” APPROPRIATIONS BILL FUNDS FARM BILL PROGRAMS, DELAY ERS/NIFA MOVE Congress thwarted another government shutdown by passing an appropriations bill in midFebruary. In addition to providing funding for nine government agencies – including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission – through Sept. 30, the bill has other significant implications for food and agriculture. Perhaps most notably, it delays the proposed relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS), pending thorough justification, including cost-benefit analysis, from the USDA. Additionally, the bill indefinitely postpones the proposed reorganization of ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist. Both the relocation and reorganization were opposed by a number of agricultural organizations, including National Farmers Union (NFU), due to concerns that it would undermine the functions and objectivity of both agencies. A number of programs NFU advocated for in the 2018 Farm Bill received funding through the spending bill. It appropriates $2 million for a pilot program similar to the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). This will serve as an on-ramp for full implementation of the program in 2020. Furthermore, the Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP), which funds food safety training and education for small and mid-sized producers and processors, will receive $8 million, a $1 million increase over FY18 appropriated funds. The bill similarly provides $15 million, plus $2.5 million for technical assistance, for the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program, which provides competitively awarded grants to establish or develop value-added producer-owned businesses. This is in addition to the $17.5 million in mandatory funds for this program provided by the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). The bill also directs USDA and FDA to formalize a joint framework for regulating cell-based protein production within 60 days of enactment. This decision aligns with NFU’s support for joint regulation and will ensure continued progress in USDA’s and FDA’s efforts to oversee these products. The Washington Corner can also be found at ■ Current as of March 15, 2019

Union Farmer From the President....

2019 Wins & Plans for Legislative Session 2020


Doug Sombke SDFU President

ooking back on the 2019 Legislative Session, we saw some wins that reflect our organization’s policy and support South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers. E30: A tipping point was reached in our more than 30 years of ethanol advocacy, when Gov. Noem began the 2019 session announcing the state fleet would fuel up with E30 in her State of the State Address. Strengthening her support for this highblend option, Noem declared Feb. 19, E30 Day in South Dakota. Truth in Labeling: South Dakota’s Legislature showed its overwhelming support for our state’s No. 1 industry of agriculture and consumers’ right to know what they are eating when they unanimously passed Senate Bill 68, which only allows animal protein harvested from animal carcasses to be labeled as meat. We are optimistic South Dakota’s policy on E30 and Truth in Labeling impacts Congressional leadership and national policy. Although our legislators passed House Bill 1191, (58-8, with four excused) Noem vetoed the bill which would legalize raising industrial hemp. Her decision is confusing for multiple reasons. 1. Noem voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized raising industrial hemp at the federal level. 2. Industrial hemp is a droughttolerant, hardy plant that would thrive in South Dakota’s growing conditions on both sides of the river. 3. To date, the agriculture states of Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming and North Dakota (to name just a few) legalized growing industrial hemp. Among the most concerning policy issues discussed this session is supplemental funding for elder care facilities throughout South Dakota. In the end, the budget did allow for a short-term fix, providing nursing homes with a 10 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursement. This is a start. It is

not enough. And, rural communities are not the only ones impacted by nursing home closures. Just this week, Huron announced it would be closing the local nursing home. The care of our Greatest Generation is not to be ignored. I recently heard more than one legislator comment that “nursing homes will have to get more efficient.” SDFU does not support the idea that elder care facilities need to house more residents, yet not increase employee numbers to properly care for residents. What does it say about our state’s leaders when they do not prioritize caring for those who taught us, employed us, mentored us – not to mention fought for us? Know that supplemental funding for elder care facilities will remain a focus of SDFU as we look to the 2020 Legislative Session. Property assessment valuation will also be a policy priority. SDFU still believes the best method to assess land values in South Dakota is “Actual Use,” not the current method. Corn Growers funded a study through South Dakota State University that utilizes intense soil testing to determine land value. The idea is that counties can volunteer to consider soil type when assigning property tax values. SDFU believes this will only complicate the issue and create a more expensive, bureaucratic system. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it a beauty queen. Grassroots policy begins with you. What topics or issues would you like your organization to focus on as we look ahead to Legislative Session 2020? We look forward to visiting with you.


South Dakota Union Farmer, ISSN 0745-8797, publishes 9 times per calendar year, with issues printed in January/ February, March/April, May, June, July/August, September, October, November and December. Periodical postage paid at Madison, S.D. Karla Hofhenke, Publisher Lura Roti, Editor ~ Wendy Sweeter, Copy Editor Diane Martinson, Layout & Design

All information for publication must be submitted by the 15th of the month. You may submit items to address below or email items to: POSTMASTER: Address changes to: SDFU, PO Box 1388, Huron, S.D. 57350-1388

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

SDFU State Office Staff Karla Hofhenke.......ext. 114 Executive Director Huron Rocky Forman..............ext. 117 Member Services Coordinator Huron

Rachel Haigh-Blume.... ext. 125 Education Director Tulare

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

Pam Evenson................ ext. 116 Membership Specialist Doland

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

Karon Rembold............ext. 111 Receptionist Miller

Kayla Stevens.................. ext. 118 Controller Miller

SDFU Board of Directors Doug Sombke.........President Groton Wayne Soren.. Vice President Lake Preston Mike Miller................ District I Freeman Lisa Snedeker........... District II Woonsocket Gail Temple............. District III Clark

Contact NFU

Making Your Voice Heard in Pierre, Sincerely, Doug Sombke, President South Dakota Farmers Union

David Reis................District IV Oacoma 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 ~ Patty Edelburg, Vice President Darin Von Ruden, Secretary ~ Doug Sombke, Treasurer 202.554.1600

March/April 2019


Union Farmer

Soil Health Continued from Page 17

together in our quest to rebuild our nation’s soils, we will make incredible progress as well.” So, what makes a good leader? They care deeply and act boldly, says Berns. “As leaders, you care deeply about the cause, resource and the people affected,” he says. “You have to go beyond caring. You can care all you want, but if you don’t get out there and do something, it doesn’t matter.” Berns pointed to the formation of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition as proof that South Dakota is filled with the right leaders who are willing to act boldly. “It’s time we shift our thinking when it comes to soil health. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when we discuss rebuilding soils,” he says. “We must go beyond preventing erosion, move beyond tolerating erosion and beyond sustainable. What good is it to sustain a resource that is already very degraded?” When explaining what is meant by the second factor, the right workers, Berns’ explains that it’s all about working toward a shared vision. He references the fact that

not all those helping Nehemiah rebuild Jerusalem’s wall were masons. “Dedication to a cause is more important than a pre-existing skillset, if you’re willing to learn,” Berns says. “Not every farmer in South Dakota will understand how to build their soil’s health, but if they are dedicated and understand how important it is, then they are the perfect workers for this project.” As for the right tools, Berns once again referenced S.D. Soil Health Coalition and the many resources the organization, its many partners and other farmers like him who are willing to provide information, education and resources to those working toward the goal of improving their soil’s health. Just a few of the soil building tools that farmers have in their tool box are: no-till practices, plant diversity, cover crops, soil biological organisms, beneficial insects and livestock integration. Where to start? As he wrapped up his discussion, Berns again acknowledged the task is immense, and says the best place to begin is on your

own farm. “We are constantly reminded that we have 10 billion people to feed by year 2050. The best way not to be overwhelmed is just go out and fix your own front yard first,” he says, once again quoting examples from Nehemiah, where they first began by working on the wall in front of their own homes, then they helped their neighbors and then they worked on portions of the wall where no one lived. “We can be overwhelmed if we look at the future of 900 million acres, but, if you take the concepts of soil health and start implementing them on your own farm, even if it’s just 40 acres of your farm,” Berns explains. To learn more about best management practices to improve soil health, visit Berns website, To connect with local resources, seminars and resources, visit the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition website, www.sdsoilhealthcoalition. org. ■ By Lura Roti for SDFU

come from the carcass of an animal. Taxes are always an issue every year in South Dakota and this year was no different. A study done by South Dakota State University of soil types in South Dakota was finalized and the legislature approved a bill to use soil types to determine agriculture land taxes for a study over the next year. Ten to 12 counties will run a side-by-side comparison of the suggested tax law next to the current one to see what impact it would have on taxes collected. Results should be available to legislators for the 2020 legislative session.

The calendar is set for the 2020 legislative session to begin Jan. 14. Between now and then, expect some summer studies and other meetings involving policymakers that will have an impact on agriculture and producers in South Dakota. Make your voice heard when you see your elected officials and let them know you are in agriculture and give them your opinion on political topics. If you have questions, reach out to SDFU, or 605-3505976. ■

Legislative Update Continued from Page 8 the proponents but in the end we came up four votes short in the Senate for an override. Expect the bill to be introduced again January 2020. The legislature passed without a single negative vote a bill to redefine what can be labeled as meat in South Dakota. There are a couple of organizations producing protein in a lab that looks somewhat like meat and would like it to be labeled as such in your local grocery stores. The new law, if, signed by the governor would say for meat to be labeled as such in South Dakota it needs to


March/April 2019

Union Farmer Thank You Thank you so very much for sponsoring my registration for Women in Blue Jeans! As always it was a great time and a great assortment of topics to choose from. It’s always fun to connect with people and learn new things! Thanks for all you do at Farmers Union and keep up the good work! Bev Rubel

Farmers Union signs available Show your Farmers Union spirit with a special Farmers Union sign. Available for a limited time, the sign makes a fun addition to the farm driveway, the side of a barn or even a statement piece in the house. The cost per sign is $10 or free with a five-year or greater membership to Farmers Union. To get yours today, contact Membership Specialist Pam Evenson at 605-352-6761 ext 116 or at PEvenson@




Ashley Kay Moe, age 20, of Alexandria, S.D., died as a result of an automobile accident on Feb. 26, 2019. Ashley graduated from Hanson High School in Mary 2017. She is survived by her parents, Dave and LeAnn, sister, McKayla, and brother, Chet. *** Peggy Reis, age 87, of Reliance, S.D., passed away March 9, 2019. She is survived by sons: Brad (Carolyn) Reis, and David (Brenda) Reis, a daughter, Linda Hensley, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and greatgreat grandchildren. *** Pearl Burg, age 102, passed away March 4, 2019. She is survived by sons Jim (Bernice) Burg and Quinten (Linda) Burg of Wessington Springs, and Andy Burg. Daughters include Lois, Betty, Ginger and Sylvia. She is also survived by her sister, Agnes, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. *** Russel Gantvoort, age 93, of Watertown, S.D., formerly of Clear Lake, S.D., passed away March 3, 2019. Russel is survived by his sons Douglas (DeJae) Gantvoort and Randall (Marshall) Gantvoort, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.

mail to: Like us for updates, photos, news, and so much more. South-Dakota-Farmers-Union277721538812/ Follow us for the latest legislative updates and news. View videos at the South Dakota Farmers Union Channel. user/sdfarmersunion

Order Your Own Copy of the Farmers Union Centennial Cookbook

The family of Cliff Gascoigne is requesting a card shower in honor of Cliff’s 90th Birthday. Send your birthday greetings to him at 2134 Farnak Ave SE Apt 2, Huron, SD 57350.


Green Bean and Ham Soup 1 ½ lb. ham bone 7 whole allspice 8-10 sprigs parsley, chopped 4 sprigs or 1 tsp. summer savory (optional) 1 small onion, chopped

Pam Evenson, Doland, S.D.

1 ½ c. potatoes, diced 4 c. fresh green beans, cut 2 tsp. salt ½ c. light cream 1 T. butter

Place ham bone with water in a large pot with parsley, allspice, summer savory and onion. Simmer until ham pieces pull easily from the bone. Add potatoes, green beans and salt. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Right before serving, stir in the cream and butter.

Cookbooks are $10 plus tax and shipping. Contact Pam Evenson, 605-352-6761, ext 116, to place your order today!


State FFA Convention Team Up to Safety Quiz Bowl Brookings


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MAY 2019   8

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State Office Closed - Huron March/April 2019


Union Farmer

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March 2019 Union Farmer  

March 2019 Union Farmer