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Family Farmers & Ranchers Advocate in D.C. for What They Need in 2023 Farm Bill

The 2023 Farm Bill is nearly final and a group of South Dakota family farmers and ranchers are in D.C. to ensure the Farm Bill includes what they need.

“There is no one better to advocate for what family farmers and ranchers need than family farmers and ranchers,” explained Doug Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde farmer and the President of South Dakota Farmers Union.

Parade rancher and District 28-A legislator, Oren Lesmeister agreed.

“From my experience as a legislator, I know in-person conversations with stakeholders make a difference,” Lesmeister said. “It is difficult to ignore the rancher who raises the cattle and says they need MCOOL (mandatory country of origin labeling) in the Farm Bill or the farmer who grows crops and says they need fair markets due to concentration issues.”

South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) sponsored several family farmers and ranchers to attend the National Farmers Union Fly-In. In addition to Sombke and Lesmeister, the other South Dakota producers to attend are: Wayne Soren, Lake Preston; Karla Hofhenke, Huron; Hank Wonnenberg, Dallas; Robert Lee, De Smet; Rocky Forman, Cavour, Jeff Kippley, Aberdeen; Rachel Kippley, Aberdeen; Lance Perrion, Ipswich; Sarah Perrion, Ipswich; Scott Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Amber Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Gail Temple, Clark; Kirk Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Corey Chicoine; Elk Point; Kathleen Chicoine, Elk Point; Craig Blindert, Salem; Matt Cavenee, Miller; Stephanie Cavenee, Miller; Mark Cavenee, Miller; Tonner Bowman, Mitchell; Samantha Olson, Mitchell and David Smith, Pierre.

Meeting with Secretary Vilsack & Policy Makers

During the three-day Fly-In, agriculture producers will meet with policy makers and their staff and advocate for passing a farm bill before the current farm bill expires as well as other policy changes that will lead to what Sombke said is fairness for farmers.

“Fairness for farmers and ranchers. Everything we talk about comes back to this main focus,” Sombke said.

Ahead of in-person meetings, National Farmers Union provides advocacy training.

“Policymakers want to hear from farmers and ranchers – so we encourage them to share their personal stories,” explained Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

With this in mind, Ipswich crop and cattle producer Lance Perrion said he feels well prepared.

“The farm bill impacts all farmers and ranchers because it is responsible for the safety nets – including crop insurance,” said Perrion who is advocating alongside his wife, Sarah.

In addition to meeting with policymakers, farmers and ranchers met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials representing Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission.

“It is important for those who run the agencies to realize how invested we are,” explained Stephanie Cavenee, who raises crops and cattle with her husband, Matt near Miller. “Instead of talking to our neighbors about what we need to make things work on our operations, we are here talking to policymakers and agency staff who can actually make the changes we need.”

To keep up with the South Dakota group during the 2023 D.C. Fly-In, follow South Dakota Farmers Union on Facebook and Instagram.

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