Tables turn as Brown County farmers are fed

Alexandra Hardle
Aberdeen News

While farmers usually provide America's food, the tables turned last week, with farmers around the Aberdeen and Groton areas receiving a free meal. 

With busy season underway at the local farms, the Brown County Farm Bureau organized a Feed the Farmers event, where free lunches were delivered to about 100 farmers. The event has happened before, but it's been several years, said Brown County Farm Bureau president Jeff Wolff. 

Jeff Wolff hands a lunch to Stephen Simon, who works on a farm in Groton with his father, Steve Simon.

The Brown County Farm Bureau is part of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. The county bureau has about 250 members, while the state bureau has a little over 12,000 members.

Wolff described the organization as a grassroots effort for people to push to get things that affect farmers discussed, whether that be at the county, state, or national level. It's especially important because farmers are independent and don't have unions to make their voices heard, which is where the organization comes in.

"We know that our voices are being heard; our interests are being represented," said Wolff. 

Jeff Howard owns of Dakota View Farms in Groton. At the farm, he raises corn, beans, wheat, and has hogs and cattle. While most of the crops go to local processing centers, with the corn going to the local ethanol plant, the livestock typically get sent to out-of-state packing houses.

Howard said he appreciates the Feed the Farmer event because it gives farmers a chance to meet people who are part of the bureau, as well as hear about what is going on.

"I think it's great," he said. "The world moves so fast, nobody seems to take time to do this kind of stuff anymore."

Wolff also said that this was a great opportunity for the organization to gain more visibility within the community: it can thank the farmers, and perhaps gain a few new members. 

Jeff Wolff hands a lunch to Jim Mortenson at Rix Farms in Groton.

Wolff and the bureau also teamed up with a few different companies to make the event happen; they got a deal to do advertisements with a local radio station, as well as a few businesses that contributed funds towards paying for the meals. Kelly Tracy of Farm Bureau Financial Services, RDO Equipment Co. and Farm Tire Service in Conde contributed funds. Ken's SuperFair Foods contributed water and apples, while Subway gave the bureau a deal on the sandwiches as well.

"Farmers feed the world every day," said Brenda Dreyer, marketing and communications director for the South Dakota Farm Bureau. "So Farm Bureau is just trying to feed them for once."