SDFU encourages USDA to ensure stimulus package helps producers to protect food security
HURON, S.D. — For more than a century, the health and economic well-being of South Dakota’s family farmers, ranchers and their rural communities has been the focus of South Dakota Farmers Union. The organization appreciates the speed at which Congress passed a stimulus package to bolster rural healthcare.
“It is our number one priority that the talented caregivers and rural health facilities have the resources and equipment they need to provide lifesaving services to our family, friends and neighbors who need it most. We pray daily for caregivers’ safety as they fight for the lives of South Dakotans,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU president and fourth-generation Conde farmer.
Although public health is the most immediate concern, like the majority of Americans, having the income necessary to plant crops, feed livestock and care for their families is a close second for the 19,000 family farmers and ranchers Farmers Union supports.
“The food security of our nation depends on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to safeguard the funds entrusted to them to ensure they reach family farmers and ranchers,” Sombke says.
Sombke explains that while grocery store shelves empty as quick as they can be stocked, U.S. family farmers and ranchers continue to sell in markets that will not return a profit to them. “COVID-19 accelerated what was already a three-year, Great Recession in American agriculture,” Sombke says. “If multi-national meat packers and food processors do not pass along some of the profits they are gaining from the increased demand for food, many of our farmers and ranchers will not survive. If the dollars go where Congress intends — to those raising our food — this stimulus could be the instrument needed to protect our nation’s food supply during these uncertain times.”
You are not alone
The mental health of South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers remains a concern for Farmers Union. The organization is diligently working to keep producers connected to helpful resources and each other. Working from their homes, farms and ranches, Farmers Union staff are calling members to check in on them.
“COVID-19 took away our ability to offer physical support to our friends and neighbors. Now, more than ever, we need to hear the voice of a friend or family member, says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU executive director. “We want our farmers and ranchers and their families to feel connected and know they are not alone. We are in this together.”
The organization has also amped-up its existing communication platforms, encouraging farmers and ranchers to share their experiences on social media and through an online questionnaire. It continues to inform members through their website and newsletter.
To learn more, visit www.SDFU.org or visit South Dakota Farmers Union on Facebook.