SDFU president joins other ag leaders to celebrate Year of Family Farming

Farm Forum

HURON — As President of South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) and a fourth generation family farmer from Conde, Doug Sombke advocates for South Dakota family farmers on a daily basis. On April 9 he joined with agriculture leaders from across North America to celebrate family farmers worldwide and discuss the challenges and opportunities they face during the North American Continental Dialogue on Family Farming in Quebec as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Family Farming.

“It was exciting to meet with agriculture leaders from across North America and learn about our similarities and differences and how we can work together for the future of family farming,” Sombke said. “This is a global industry which depends on the sustainability of the 500 million family farmers worldwide to feed the World’s growing population.”

Although Sombke is no stranger to global agriculture, the South Dakota farmer has traveled extensively, he says this conference opened his eyes to the level of support provided to U.S. farmers from organizations like Farmers Union; compared to farmers who live in Canada and Mexico.

“In the U.S. we as farmers are well represented by organizations like Farmers Union that are not only in place to represent family farmers, but are run by family farmers. The same is not true throughout all of North America,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to be a family farmer in a country where I have been surrounded by organizations like Farmers Union all my life.”

Although family farming and the industry of agriculture varies quite a bit throughout the North America countries, Sombke said bringing leaders together to discuss their similarities will serve to strengthen the industry and its family farmers today and into the future.

“We worked to identify key challenges and discussed ways to introduce public policy that will provide support for family farmers throughout the world,” Sombke said.

Throughout the four-day conference, Sombke and other leaders discussed issues brought forth by the World Farmers Organization. Some issues discussed included:

• Resiliency of family farmers in North America;

• Current realities of education and communication with consumers about family farming in the United States, Canada, and Mexico;

• Local, state, national and international policies and its impact on farmers in each country;

• Issues relating to access to credit, land and other factors of production;

• Food security and the role of women as family farmers;

• Issues relating to manpower, succession, technological and economical performance, agri-environment, and training and consulting services on the farm; and

• Issues relating to marketing.

The International Year of the Family Farming is one of six conferences United Nations will host throughout the world this year.

To learn more about the International Year of Family Farming, visit To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit