Delegates prepare to take South Dakota policy to 2023 NFU National Convention
Dallas farmer Hank Wonnenberg serves as chair of SDFU Policy Committee and was asked to serve on the NFU Policy Committee for the 2023 National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention.
He said during a recent pre-convention meeting held at the NFU D.C. headquarters, he had an opportunity to see firsthand the impact National Farmers Union and grassroots policy has in D.C. “We were asked to take a break each day to meet with members of the House and Senate Ag Committees,” Hank shared. “Basically, we got to talk with them about our hopes as farmers and our organization’s policy as it pertains to the current Farm Bill. They asked for our input. It was an awesome opportunity.”
Some of the policy they discussed was put in place during the 2022 NFU Convention. Hank and his wife, Melissa, served as delegates, and worked with other SDFU delegates to make SDFU policy part of NFU policy.
“After this meeting, I felt like I understand better than ever how our grassroots policy makes its way to policymakers,” Hank said. “It also made me realize how important it is that NFU is connected to these representatives. Eighty-six percent of the new House members have never been part of writing a Farm Bill before. Many are from urban areas. They said they rely on ag advocacy organizations like Farmers Union to answer their questions.”
With the new Farm Bill on the horizon, Wessington Springs cattle producer Scott Kolousek said lawmakers can trust NFU policy as representing family farmers and ranchers because it is developed at the grassroots level and only farmers and ranchers can serve as delegates.
“It is important that active farmers and ranchers are the ones who vote on the policy our organization supports because we are the ones who are impacted,” explained Kolousek, who also serves as a District 2 board member.
Scott and Hank are also optimistic that NFU policy will help bring about changes to the Farm Bill to help strengthen oversight of meat processors.
“The NFU Fairness for Farmers initiative South Dakota Farmers Union supports is a big deal,” Kolousek said. “It asks policymakers to keep pressure on the Department of Justice to break up monopolies in meat processing as well as other sectors of agriculture.”
Scott and his wife, Amber, served alongside Hank and Melissa in 2022. The couples will once again serve as a delegates during the 2023 NFU Convention held March 5-7 in San Francisco. The other family farmers and ranchers to serve alongside them as SDFU delegates to NFU Convention are: Jeff Kippley, NFU Vice President, Aberdeen; Rachel Kippley, Aberdeen; Lance Perrion, Ipswich; Sarah Perrion, Ipswich; David Reis, Oacoma; Brenda Reis, Oacoma; Rob Lee, De Smet; Michelle Johnson, Groton; Chad Johnson, Groton; John Kippley, Aberdeen; Mary Ellen Cammack, Union Center; and Lorrie Hanson, Britton.