SD Farm Bureau set for policy session
In a time-honored tradition, farmers and ranchers from across the state will come together later this month for the annual meeting of the South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB), voting on what state and national policy positions they want the organization to take in the coming year. This year’s annual meeting and delegate session, set for Nov. 20-21 in Pierre, is SDFB’s 98th annual.
“Policy is Farm Bureau’s bread and butter,” said Scott VanderWal, third-generation farmer from Volga, S.D. and SDFB’s president.
“Every position the Farm Bureau organization takes on an issue comes directly from the grassroots, from us as farm and ranch members at the county Farm Bureau level. Together, we have a voice.”
Krystil Smit, who took the post of SDFB’s executive director on Oct. 12, says she’s excited to see the process in action.
“I have tremendous respect for Farm Bureau and the way they’ve kept this grassroots process going strong for 98 years,” Smit commented. “The policy book these Farm Bureau members create is a fantastic resource for state and national legislators to see how farm and ranch families feel on key issues. Likewise, consumers can look to Farm Bureau policy for first-hand information on how their food is grown and raised today.”
The importance of participating in this long-standing tradition doesn’t seem to be lost on the younger generation of Farm Bureau members. Matt Vandersnick, a young farmer in the Willow Lake area, is a member of the Clark/Day County Farm Bureau. He says he’s a firm believer in Farm Bureau because of its policy work.
“My wife’s family had always been involved in Farm Bureau, but I was not that familiar with it. When we moved back to the farm, I went along to a meeting with them, even though I wasn’t sure what it was all about,” Vandersnick recalls. “But then they started talking about the grassroots policy process and how individual people could have a say in issues that affect our ability to farm. That’s when I really understood why Farm Bureau is important. There are just too many issues out there today affecting agriculture for us to sit on the sidelines and let other people make decisions without our input.”
The SDFB convention kicks off with opening ceremonies at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 at the Pierre Ramkota. The delegate session will be called to order at 1:30 p.m. that day, reconvening Saturday afternoon if needed to finish official business. Although only delegates will be seated in the policy session, the rest of the event is open to the public if people wish to take in the sessions. Topics to be discussed include international trade and U.S. agriculture exports, ag land taxes and valuations, the FDA’s new Veterinary Feed Directive, how to discuss GMOs with consumers, and more. A detailed agenda can be found on http://www.sdfbf.org, where you can also register online between now and Nov. 13.
South Dakota Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agriculture association, representing more than 16,000 farm, ranch and rural families across the state. The American Farm Bureau Federation represents 6.1 million member families nationwide.
–South Dakota Farm Bureau