Brown County farmer to serve as adviser to National Farmers Union board of directors
HURON, S.D. — Aberdeen crop and cattle producer Jeff Kippley was recently selected to serve as a Next Generation Leader to the National Farmers Union board of directors. Kippley is the first South Dakota farmer to serve in this position.
“Jeff is a natural leader. In this role he will help be the voice of the conventional family farmer, sharing views and concerns as an active South Dakota farmer,” said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president and National Farmers Union treasurer.
The role of Next Generation Leader was introduced three years ago as a way to engage younger farmers, prepare them for future leadership positions within Farmers Union and ensure their voice is heard. In this role, Kippley will not have voting privileges. With nearly a third of American farmers and ranchers age 65 and older, NFU President Rob Larew sees the Next Generation Leader position as an opportunity to ensure the longevity of both the American family farm agriculture and Farmers Union.
“It is imperative that we support young and beginning farmer leaders so they can take the reins when older generations decide to retire,” Larew said. “Beginning farmers understand better than anyone else what they need to succeed. By giving them a platform, in this advisory role, we can guarantee that NFU is working towards policies and programs that are in their best interest.”
Supporting family farmers and ranchers is the reason Jeff and his wife, Rachel, became actively involved in South Dakota Farmers Union. The couple participated in the Farmers Union Enterprise Leadership Program, the National Farmers Union Washington, D.C., Fly-In and served as delegates to the National Farmers Union convention. In addition to South Dakota Farmers Union, Rachel serves as a Brown County commissioner.
“Farmers Union is for the family farmer. I get tired of driving through small-town South Dakota and seeing them shrink. Some no longer have grocery stores or even gas stations. If there were more family farmers out here, it would be good for our communities and our entire state,” Kippley said, who, together with Rachel, raise 2,800 acres of corn and soybeans and operate 400-head cow/calf operation. The couple also own Kippley Group, a tax preparation and bookkeeping business.
When he talks about his family’s farm, Kippley is quick to point out it is conventional, like most South Dakota farms.
“I accepted the position because I want to be the voice for the small to medium-sized, conventional family farms,” Kippley said. “Sometimes I feel like those of us who are commodity farming get left in the dust. Out here in the sticks of the Dakotas, we don’t have the population centers that make direct marketing possible. We are stuck in the commodity realm.”
He adds, “I am not anti any type of farming. I just want to make sure our voice is not forgotten about.”
Ensuring the voice of all family farmers and ranchers is heard on the state and national level is a primary focus of Farmers Union.
“NFU’s greatest strength is its grassroots, democratic structure,” Larew said. “Our members determine our policy positions and priorities each year at our national convention, which means we truly are representing the voices and interests of family farmers and ranchers at the local level and in D.C.”
To learn more about how South Dakota Farmers Union supports family farmers and ranchers, visit www.sdfu.org.