HURON, S.D. – During the South Dakota State Fair, Fairgoers can eat a $13 lunch for only 35 cents. It’s South Dakota Famers Union (SDFU) way of helping consumers understand just how much money family farmers and ranchers earn from the food products they raise.
“It’s our way of letting consumers know that even though prices are up in the grocery store, profits for South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers are not. The people who do the work to raise the food ingredients receive a small percentage of the price we all pay in the grocery store,” explained Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.
The annual Farmers Share Lunch is held at 11:30 a.m. during Farmers Union Day at the State Fair Saturday, September 3. The meal will be served in the Farmers Union Tent across from the Freedom Stage at the South Dakota State Fair. South Dakota Farmers Union is a premiere sponsor of the South Dakota State Fair.
“This event draws attention to the fact that farmers and ranchers are not doing as well as it may seem from grocery store prices,” said Union Center rancher, Dallis Basel. “We look forward to this lunch each year because we like to share a meal and the story of our ranch with consumers.”
The fact is, even though they raise the food ingredients, family farmers and ranchers pay the same prices at the grocery store as families who don’t work in production agriculture. And like most American families, farm and ranch profits are not following the spike in household expenses like groceries.
“We go grocery shopping just like everyone else,” said Basel, who raises sheep and cattle together with his wife, Tammy. “Even though prices are up in the grocery store, we do not earn much more than break even on cattle and right now, the sheep markets have bottomed out, so we are going backward when we sell market lambs.”
A lifelong Farmers Union member, Basel said he appreciates the efforts that go into the annual Farmers Share Lunch because feeding more than 1,000 fairgoers helps connect consumers to the truth.
“Big conglomerate food processors and the packers are making exorbitant profits – not family farmers and ranchers,” explained Basel, who serves on the state board for SDFU.
Strengthening South Dakota’s Beef Industry
Working to hold meat packers and food processors accountable and transparent is a focus of Farmers Union policy. During Farmers Union Day at the State Fair, the state’s largest agriculture organization will host a panel discussion focused on strengthening South Dakota’s Beef Industry. Panelists include Doug Sombke, SDFU President; Megan R. Kingsbury, Kingsbury & Associates – President/CEO and founder of the proposed Rapid City beef and bison packing plant; Dale Bednarek, Farmers Union Industries and James Halverson, Executive Director South Dakota Stockgrowers.
The panel discussion will begin at 1 p.m. on the Freedom Stage and is open to all. Right before the panel discussion, SDFU will recognize rural volunteers with the Rural Dakota Pride Award at 12:45. 2022 Rural Dakota Pride honorees are Dan & Corinne Overweg, Kimball; Dale Swenson, Woonsocket; Judy Roemich, Piedmont and Mary Jacobs, Huron.
In addition to the Rural Dakota Pride presentation and panel discussion, SDFU will host a Farm Safety Quiz Bowl championship at 2 p.m. featuring teams from four FFA Chapters that qualified during the 2022 State FFA Convention: Canton, Gettysburg, Kimball and Lennox.
Making wishes come true
All proceeds and donations collected during the Farmer Share lunch will be given to Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota and Montana.
“Children are our future. Supporting children with critical illnesses and their families is one more way to make an impact during Farmers Union Day at the State Fair,” Hofhenke said.
To learn more about Farmers Union Day at the State Fair, visit www.sdfu.org.