SDFU celebrates community heroes, farmers, ranchers during SDFU Day at the State Fair |

SDFU celebrates community heroes, farmers, ranchers during SDFU Day at the State Fair

HURON, S.D. – South Dakota Farmers Union will celebrate community heroes, family farmers and ranchers and educate consumers on current challenges facing our state’s No. 1 industry of agriculture during the 2018 Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair Sept. 1. SDFU is a Premier Sponsor of the South Dakota State Fair.

“For more than a century, Farmers Union has supported our state’s family farmers and ranchers – and this year, with low commodity prices, made worse by the current trade war, our farmers and ranchers need every bit of support we can provide them through policy development, lobbying congressional leaders and consumer education,” explains Doug Sombke, SDFU President and a fourth-generation Conde farmer.

To educate consumers on the current low prices, on Sept. 1, SDFU serves a Farmers Share lunch, charging fairgoers the price a South Dakota farmer would receive for the ingredients used to make a $12 lunch.

This year the organization will only be collecting 25 cents.

“When consumers buy a pound of burger at the store and pay $5, they think I’m making $5 a pound for the cattle I raise. This simply isn’t the case,” explains Colome farmer, Joel Keierleber. “Consumers really don’t understand that most of their food dollars go to the middle man. For example, I only receive about $1.80 for that pound of burger.”

And, like every cow/calf producer in South Dakota, Keierleber is responsible for the health and welfare of the cattle day-in and day-out until they are sold to a feeder or processor.

“As farmers or ranchers, we’re the ones taking care of the critter for up to two years and receiving a very small fraction of the grocery store price,” Keierleber explains.

Each year the farmers share lunch feeds more than 1,000.

“This is one of our largest educational events,” says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. “Education is a mission our grassroots organization takes seriously.”

Throughout the year, SDFU hosts educational events for youth, rural professionals and community leaders, and farm and ranch couples. This year the organization expanded their educational offerings, with the SDFU Farm Safety trailer, a mobile, interactive classroom designed to provide rural youth with farm safety training.

Fairgoers will have an opportunity to go through the trailer during the state fair.

Team up for Farm Safety Quiz Bowl

Another way the organization emphasizes farm safety is through the Team Up for Farm Safety Quiz Bowl.

Farmers Union invites everyone to watch rural youth in action by attending the 2018 SDFU Team Up To Safety Quiz Bowl championship, held at 2 p.m. on the Freedom Stage across from the Farmers Union Tent.

“The quiz bowl is a fun way for high school students to learn about safety on the farm or ranch,” says Hofhenke, of the competition that asks FFA members questions on farm and ranch safety.

The following FFA chapters qualified to compete during the 2018 State FFA Convention: Hoven FFA, Parker FFA, Tri-Valley FFA and Wessington Springs FFA.

Community heroes honored with Rural Dakota Pride awards

At 10:30 a.m., Farmers Union will recognize seven South Dakotans for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award.

The honorees include: Tim Holzer, Arlington; Diana Runge, Wessington; Roger Deiter, Faulkton; John and Maria Condon, Colome; Amy Hofer, Doland; and Joe Schnell, Lake Preston.

As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Farmers Union understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota’s No. 1 industry and their rural communities.

“One cannot survive without the other,” says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of SDFU. “Without thriving communities, it’s difficult to encourage young people to return to their family’s farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota’s agriculture industry, which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive.”

Scholarships Awarded

The organization will also announce the South Dakota students who receive $1,000 scholarships for post-secondary education as part of the Farmers Union Foundation and Farmers Union Insurance Agency 2018 Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship.

Since 2008, SDFU Foundation has awarded more than $275,000 in scholarships to students attending South Dakota post-secondary schools.

The recipients were chosen from among a large pool of applicants. They were scored based on a combination of academic record, activities and awards, financial need and an essay relating to how they will “Insure a Brighter Tomorrow” in South Dakota.

Farmers Union Insurance agents throughout the state fund this scholarship program administered by the Farmers Union Foundation.

“Education is one of the three pillars upon which Farmers Union is built. Year-round, Farmers Union invests in providing leadership, cooperative and farm safety educational programming to school-age rural youth across South Dakota,” Sombke explains.

Visit to meet the scholarship winners who represent more than 20 South Dakota communities. F

–South Dakota Farmers Union