HURON, S.D. — Concerns over the survival of South Dakota’s family farms and ranches motivated many members of South Dakota Farmers Union to meet in Huron July 25, 2018 and establish policy calling for Congressional leadership to act on behalf of our state’s number one industry.
“We request our delegation to support our states farmers and ranchers, to end the trade tariffs, get a Farm Bill passed immediately, and finish the NAFTA trade agreement.
Our producers cannot afford lower prices along with higher input costs, they will be forced by lenders to leave the occupation they love.
We believe this should be one of the top priorities for the remainder of this year. As our state’s number one industry, immediate action is paramount for the survival of agriculture in South Dakota and national security. We are in desperate need of leadership from you,” reads a portion of the Call to Action introduced by Pierpont farmers, Franklin Olson and David Sigdestad and passed unanimously by SDFU members.
“We have to do something about these tariffs,” said Sigdestad, who began his farming career in 1971. “I have seen tough times before and I’m concerned about the devastating impact this trade war is having on all farmers.”
Olson agrees. The 85-year-old Day County farmer has been actively engaged in SDFU since he was asked at 18 to serve as president of Farmers Union Independent Local 923.
“Farmers Union is our advocate,” Olson said. “What these tariffs are doing to our state’s agriculture economy is devastating. We need leadership from our Congressional delegation.”
Sigdestad added. “I think the Congressional delegation is timid in speaking to the President. I understand they wrote him a letter. I’m not sure how much good a letter will do. This Call To Action is asking them to do more.”
Each year, prior to their annual D.C. Fly-In, SDFU holds an annual policy meeting as an opportunity for members of the grassroots organization to review current policy and bring new policy forward for members to vote on during the annual convention.
“I see this as an extended opportunity, in a more intimate setting than convention, to work on policy to support our rural communities,” explained Jenae Hansen, who farms with her family near Turton, but also lives and works off the farm in Aberdeen.
Hansen is one of the seven-member SDFU Policy Committee; other committee members include David Cap, Yankton; Sandee Gittings, Philip; Gary Hanson, Sisseton; Scott Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Hank Wonnenberg, Dallas and committee chair, Wayne Soren, Lake Preston, SDFU Vice President.
“Advocacy and policy development are close to my heart. I’ve been on the Fly-In and have seen the impact farmers sharing their story can have,” Hansen said.
This year, Hansen will stay home from the Fly-In to campaign. She is running for District. 2 House of Representatives.
Members will rely on the organization’s current policy to guide conversations, to ensure that the message the group takes to D.C. is strong and united.
“Once again, agriculture is taking the brunt of a trade war. It is very important that we make our concerns known about how this is effecting us and have a better understanding of what they plan to do,” said Orient crop and cattle producer, Ray Martinmaas.
Martinmaas plans to be among the group of South Dakota farmers and ranchers traveling to D.C. early September to meet with congressional leaders and staff.
“Congress needs to hear the voices from actual farmers,” said Sigdestad, who also plans to participate in the 2018 Fly-In.
Due to the timeliness of the current situation, members were eager to pass the Call To Action so that it can be addressed with congressional leaders during the September Washington DC Fly-In.
“These are times that call for action. I hope everyone who reads this Call to Action understands that it comes directly from our members. Each and every member who daily works the land and cares for livestock, cared enough to take time out of their busy lives to attend this meeting because the need for action is so important to them,” said Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde Farmer.
S.D. Farmers Union Call To Action:
Where as South Dakota is very rural and heavily reliant on Agriculture,and
Where as the farm economy is suffering from low commodity prices, high input costs and rising interest rates and
Where as the tariffs put in place by President Trump is only exasperating the problem by retaliatory tariffs on our commodities while raising the price of farm equipment,
We request our South Dakota delegation to support our states farmers and ranchers, to end the trade tariffs, get a Farm Bill passed immediately, and to finish the NAFTA trade agreement.
Where as many of our producers cannot afford lower prices along with higher input costs they will be forced by lenders to leave the occupation they love.
We believe this should be one of the top priorities for the remainder of this year. As our state’s number one industry, immediate action is paramount for the survival of agriculture in South Dakota and national security. We are in desperate need of leadership from you.
Be it resolved that the South Dakota Farmers Union members urge our congressional delegation to take immediate action to stop further damage to our livelihood.
To learn more about how S.D. Farmers Union works to support South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, visit www.sdfu.org.
— South Dakota Farmers Union
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