Impact agriculture: Attend Legislative Day 2020 on Feb. 25

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

Face-to-face interaction makes a difference, says Oren Lesmeister.

“Showing up in Pierre lets legislators know you do care,” explains District 28-A legislator, Parade rancher and small business owner. “It far outweighs emails, letters or phone calls. A short, in-person conversation with a legislator opens a valuable dialogue on issues that matter to you.”

For these reasons and more, South Dakota Farmers Union members are encouraged to show up Feb. 25 for the organization’s 2020 Legislative Day held at the Capitol in Pierre.

“Members making time for Legislative Day shows they care, they are involved and are the strength of our organization,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU president and fourth-generation Conde farmer.

Sombke explains that as a grassroots organization, SDFU staff works tirelessly throughout the two-month session to support members’ policy.

SDFU legislative lobbyist Mitch Richter agrees. “Members arriving in the Capitol for one day, and interacting with legislators, backs up the work we do for members. Like Oren says, legislators would much rather talk to the farmer or rancher policy impacts than their lobbyist. They want to hear from you how they can help.”

A few weeks into the 2020 legislative session, Lesmeister and Richter outline a few topics impacting agriculture.

Industrial hemp

After vetoing House Bill 1191 in 2019, this legislative session, Gov. Kristi Noem says she will sign legislation to make industrial hemp legal in South Dakota if the legislation includes the following:

1. Reliable enforcement standards.

2. Responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting and inspections.

3. An appropriate plan for safe transportation.

4. An adequate funding plan.

Because the initial bill included most of these “guardrails,” it is anticipated the 2020 bill will pass.

Ag land tax

It is anticipated that taxation of agriculture land will be reviewed and possibly modified.

Education: Because the current budget does not have enough funding for schools and state employee salaries, education funding is likely to come up.

In addition, SDFU would like to see policy introduced that includes funding of preschool education. The organization also supports implementation of a K-12 Advisory Committee.

To stay informed on legislative session 2020, sign up for the Producer Connection emails by emailing Luke Reindl, SDFU legislative and communications specialist, at LReindl@ If you are curious about the status of a House or Senate Bill, visit https:// and click on the Session tab.

SDFU Legislative Day 2020 Agenda

9:30 a.m. Welcome and briefing (Capitol Rotunda).

10 a.m. Attend legislative committee hearings.

12 p.m. Free lunch with the legislators (Capitol Rotunda).

1 p.m. Attend legislative caucus meetings (Capitol).

2 p.m. Attend general legislative session (Capitol).