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Brown County Farmer Re-Elected to Serve as President of South Dakota Farmers Union

By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union

Doug Sombke was elected to serve his 10th term as President of South Dakota Farmers Union today (Dec. 1) making the fourth-generation Brown County farmer among the longest serving Presidents of South Dakota’s largest agriculture organization.

“It is an honor to serve South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers,” Sombke said. “Guided by our grassroots policy, together we have made unbelievable strides. But there is more work to be done and I am hoping to see a few more policy items across the finish line.”

Breaking up packer monopolies, reinstatement of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) and strengthening South Dakota’s property rights laws by working with the South Dakotans First Coalition are among the policy-driven focuses Sombke will continue advocating for together with a member-elected board of directors, staff and more than 20,000 farmer/rancher members.

Jeff Kippley is new Vice President

During the election held during South Dakota Farmers Union 108th State Convention, Aberdeen farmer, Jeff Kippley was elected to serve his first term as South Dakota Farmers Union Vice President.

Kippley currently serves as National Farmers Union Vice President.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to work with my friend, Doug Sombke to serve South Dakota farm and ranch families,” Kippley said.

Kippley decided to put his name on the ballot after Lake Preston farmer, Wayne Soren made the decision not to run for another term. Soren has served as Vice President since 2010.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Jeff and believe he will do a great job,” explained Soren, who raises crops and cattle. “Jeff is among a group of dynamic young leaders involved in our organization who are willing to step up and move our organization into the future. This is one of the reasons I chose to step down.”

Although Soren will not serve another term as Vice President, he will remain a Farmers Union representative on some industry boards. Kippley said he is grateful Soren will remain actively involved in South Dakota Farmers Union.

“Wayne leaves big shoes to fill,” Kippley said. “He has been a great Vice President for our organization, and I am glad he will still be around for me to pick his brain on issues and to answer my questions.”

Ag producers re-elected to serve

During State Convention Policy Meeting, members also re-elected Wessington Springs farmer, Scott Kolousek, to serve as District 2 board director; Reliance rancher, David Reis, to serve as District 4 board director and Parade rancher, Oren Lesmeister, to serve as District 6 board director.

In addition to Sombke and Kippley, these producers, join Clark farmer, Gail Temple who serves as board director for District 3; Union Center rancher, Dallis Basel who serves as board director for District 5 and Groton Farmer, Chad Johnson who serves as board director for District 7.

“When I look around the boardroom at the farmers and ranchers I get to serve with, it is motivating,” Sombke said. “We are all focused on supporting our state’s family farmers and ranchers. We are eager to follow the guidance our members provide through grassroots policy. And all directors bring different perspectives and ideas and a determination to work together to make things better for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

To learn more about the leaders of South Dakota Farmers Union, visit and click on the About Us link.

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