SD Farmers Union State Convention Nov. 20-21 in Aberdeen

Farm Forum

HURON — Robert Carlson, United Nations Ambassador to International Year of Family Farming is among the impressive line-up of speakers who will be presenting during the South Dakota Farmers Union 2014 State Convention which will be held in Aberdeen at the Ramkota Hotel & Convention Center (1400 8th Avenue NW) Nov. 20-21, 2014.

His talk, Family Farmers Feeding the World, inspired the theme for this year’s convention, which is expected to draw farmer and rancher members from across the state to set policy, meet with industry leaders and discuss pressing issues that impact South Dakota’s No. 1 industry of agriculture.

“As a farmer- and rancher-led grass roots organization, we depend upon our members to provide policy direction for the year ahead during our State Convention,” explains Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

During the convention members discuss what policy issues Farmers Union will focus on for the 2015Legislative Session as well as the stance the organization will take. “This is the reason we moved the convention from February to November,” Sombke says. “We wanted to make sure we had clear direction from our members prior to the start of the Legislative Session.”

Some issues expected to take center stage during this year’s convention include: 2014 Farm Bill, E-30, recreational use of flooded private land, infrastructure issues and railroad transportation issues.

Following State Convention, policy positions are shared with Legislators. Speaking from experience, Paul Symens says policy statements are very helpful. A third-generation Amherst farmer, Symens spent 16 years as a Dist. 1 Senator. “When you have policy in front of you that states what the state’s agriculture producers desire, it provides Legislators something to work toward – Farmers Union is a well-respected organization in Pierre,” Symens says.

Symens encourages all Farmers Union members to attend the State Convention because, “your future is impacted by what government does – whether that is in D.C. or Pierre. Without a spokesman working for you, like Farmers Union, you don’t have much of a voice – so take this opportunity to decide what that voice will say on your behalf,” Symens says.

Set aside two days and SDFU spends 12 months advocating for you

SDFU understands that as agriculture producers, taking time away from your farm or ranch is challenging. “We know that farmers and ranchers of our state can’t run to Pierre and D.C. every time an issue that impacts them comes up. This is why Farmers Union works to lobby on their behalf,” explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. “This is why it’s important our state’s farmers and ranchers attend State Convention, so they can help draft the policy we’ll be using when we lobby for them.”

State Convention also provides an opportunity for members to weigh in on the organization’s leadership. During the convention, four board members are up for re-election and have been nominated by their respective districts to be confirmed. These include: Terry Sestak, Dist. 1; Franklin Olson, Dist. 3; Dallis Basel, Dist. 5; and Chad Johnson, Dist. 7.

“We are farmer-led. Look at our board of directors; it is made up of producers who, like me, are actively farming and ranching,” Sombke says.

Beyond policy discussions

Carlson is among a long list of influential and informative speakers Hofhenke enlisted to provide attendees with behind-the-scenes insight and in-depth knowledge into issues which impact agriculture on the state and national level.

“Education is what sets our organization apart from others. It’s our mission to keep our farmers and ranchers informed on issues that impact their communities, farms, ranches and communities,” Hofhenke says.

Take a quick look at the agenda below. Then, call up a family member, neighbor or friend to take care of things on your farm or ranch so you can spend two days impacting the future of family operations like yours who make up South Dakota’s agriculture industry.

Agenda 99th Annual State Convention

(Details of this schedule are subject to change.)

Thursday Nov. 20, 2014

10 a.m. Call to order Greetings

10:15 a.m. Speaker, Sec. Lucas Lentsch South Dakota Sec. of Agriculture

11:00 a.m. Financial Report, Ron Hennen, SDFU Auditor

11:15 a.m. Speaker, Daniel Elliott, Chairman of Surface Transportation board

Noon Education Honors Lunch

1:15 p.m. Call to order

1:20 p.m. Cowboy Logic with Ryan Taylor, columnist, speaker and former North Dakota State Senator

2:20 p.m. SDFU in Motion – 2014 review, Presenting the 365 Club, Jim Wahle, Dist. 2 President

3:15 p.m. Building Bridges and roads for Rural America

4:15 p.m. Grassroots Policy Discussion

5:30 p.m. Adjourn for supper on your own

7:30 p.m. Call to order, Award presentation, Doug Sombke, SDFU President

9 p.m. Entertainment: Songblast, 2 Killer voices, 2 Dueling Guitars, 2 Much Fun!

Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

7 a.m. Farmers Union Industries Breakfast

8 a.m. Call to order

8:15 a.m. Panel discussion, Recreational use of flooded Private Land, Game, Fish & Parks, Speaker, Larry Mitchell, Administrator of GIPSA (Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration

9:15 a.m. Panel discussion, E-30 Your Auto’s Best Friend

10 a.m. Farm Bill FAQ, Craig Schaunaman South Dakota State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA)

11:20 a.m. Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program, Taylor and Cassie Sumption, current class members and Fredrick S.D. farmers

11:45 a.m. Convention Banquet

1:15 p.m. Call to order, Candidate Addresses, SDFU District Board Presidential candidates; Terry Sestak, Dist. 1; Franklin Olson, Dist. 3; Dallis Basel, Dist. 5; and Chad Johnson, Dist. 7, NFU Delegates Addresses, State of Your Union, Roger Johnson, NFU President

2 p.m. Election of Board Presidents & NFU Convention Delegates

2:30 p.m. Family Farmers Feeding the World, Robert Carlson United Nations Ambassador to International Year of Family Farming

3 p.m. Speaker, Dallas Tonsager, former Under Secretary USDA Rural Development

3:30 p.m. Ag Advocacy, Greg Peterson, The Peterson Farm Bros.

4 p.m. Convention adjourned

5 p.m. Nights on the Prairie Event – open to the public