SD producers join 275 Farmers Union members for legislative fly-in

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Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. — Twenty-six family farmers, ranchers and Farmers Union members from South Dakota joined with some 275 farmers and ranchers from across the nation in Washington D.C. for the National Farmers Union (NFU) Fall Legislative Fly-In Sept. 12-14, 2016.

“We are facing some challenging times on farms and ranches across South Dakota right now. This Fly-In provides an excellent opportunity for those of us who are actively involved in the day-to-day operations on our farms and ranches to visit with Congressional leaders about the issues we face and ways they can provide support,” explained Doug Sombke, president of South Dakota Farmers Union.

The annual event allows Farmers Union members from across the country to meet directly with lawmakers, USDA leaders and other administration officials to discuss issues important to family farmers and ranchers.

“Family farmers and ranchers are the best advocates we have for agriculture, and NFU’s annual legislative fly-in is an important part of our ongoing grassroots advocacy efforts,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We emphasize to our members the importance of having open dialogue and building relationships with their elected officials in order to have their viewpoints represented in food and farm policy discussions.”

The four-day event began Sept. 12 with a briefing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NFU members heard from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller and USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis. President Johnson and NFU government relations representatives also provided remarks.

NFU members will be meeting with lawmakers over the next several days to advocate for legislative priorities that will affect their operations and communities, including: Farm Bill programs and the farm safety net, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Renewable Fuel Standard and corporate consolidation in agriculture.

The South Dakota Farmers Union members to attend the Fly-In include: Doug Sombke, SDFU President, family farmer, Conde; Wayne Soren, SDFU Vice President and family farmer, Lake Preston; Kirk Schaunaman, family farmer, Aberdeen; Joel Kierleber, SDFU board member and family farmer, Colome; Corrie and DJ Holt, family farmers, Lake Preston; Oren and Tracy Lesmeister, family farmer, Parade; Joe and Cynthia Painter, family ranchers, Buffalo; Steve and Deb Harwood, family ranchers, Union Center; Randy and Mary Ellen Cammack, family ranchers Sturgis; Taylor Sumption, family farmer, Frederick; Brian Hansen, Farmers Union Insurance Agent, Irene; Erica and Steiner, Farmers Union Insurance Agent and family rancher, Sisseton; Jason Hanson, feedlot employee, Britton; Brett Kenzy, family farmer, Iona and daughter, Gracie Kenzy, 12, Iona; Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director, Huron; Matthew Sibley, SDFU Legislative Specialist, Huron and Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Specialist and family farmer, Redfield;

“I’m proud of the impact our members are making for our state’s number one industry of agriculture. In fact, South Dakota made up a tenth of the members here. This is a BIG commitment on their part and shows their dedication,” Sombke said.