HURON, S.D. — South Dakota family farmers and ranchers took time away from their crops and livestock to travel to D.C. this week (September 11-14) to meet with policy makers and advocate for fair prices.
“We are here so Congressional leaders can hear from actual family farmers and ranchers and understand the impact the policy they develop in D.C. has on our farms and ranchers here in South Dakota,” said Doug Sombke, a fourth generation Conde crop and cattle producer and President of South Dakota Farmers Union. “A new Farm Bill is also underway, so we will be discussing ways to strengthen this bill to best serve the families working in production agriculture.”
Groton farmer, Chad Johnson attended the 2015 Fly-In and returned this year. The cow/calf and crop producer said he made time for the Fly-In because it is important for congressional leaders to hear from real farmers and ranchers.
“Lobbyists who work in D.C. on our behalf don’t have our personal stories. There’s nothing better than talking to those of us who have dirt under our fingernails because we do the work and we know better than anyone how policy could work better for us,” Johnson said.
This year, his 18-year-old son, Porter is also attending the Farmers Union Fly-In.
“I want Porter to get involved since he’s the next generation of this farm,” Johnson explained.
As Johnson and other agriculture producers share their personal stories, they will ask policy makers for:
- Establishment of a USDA Special Investigator for Meat and Poultry
- To enact the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act
- Re-establish mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL)
- Ensure farmers have the right to repair equipment
“Most of what we are asking for is for government officials to enforce existing laws, like the Packers and Stockyards Act and add oversight to ensure these laws are not left idle in the future,” Sombke explained.
Along with Sombke and Johnson, the other South Dakota producers include Brett and Roxanne Stevens, Miller; David and Paige Schelske, Mitchell; Nicholas and Janel Honke, Huron; Wayne Soren, Lake Preston; Karla Hofhenke, Huron; Larry Birgen, Sioux Falls; Luke Reindl, Tea; Rocky Forman, Cavour; Jeff Kippley, National Farmers Union Vice President and Rachel Kippley, Aberdeen; Lance and Sarah Perrion, Ipswich; Bryan and Leah Spiel, Parade; Ryan and Shilo Lamont, Union Center; Joseph and Cynthia Painter, Buffalo; Oren and Tracy Lesmeister, Parade; Hank and Melissa Wonnenberg, Dallas; Rob Lee, De Smet; Scott, Amber, Abigail and Isabella Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Gail and Brad Temple, Clark; David Reis, Oacoma; Tyler Hanson, Britton; Levi Nightingale, White Lake; Garrett Kruger, De Smet; Josh Christiansen, Harrisburg and Cadence Konochne, Kimball.
In person after two years remote
These South Dakota producers join with more than 250 family farmers and ranchers from across the U.S. for the annual National Farmers Union Fly-In. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 is the first time in two years that the Fly-In will be held in-person.
“Being here, in person and sharing our stories is a big deal. And it is evident that our members take this opportunity serious when you look at the number of family farmers and ranchers willing to take the time away from their crops and livestock to be here,” Sombke said.
Follow the work of these South Dakota farmers and ranchers during their time in D.C. by visiting South Dakota Farmers Union Facebook page or www.sdfu.org.