South Dakota farm group talks COOL, ethanol, trade in DC | TSLN.com

South Dakota farm group talks COOL, ethanol, trade in DC

South Dakota family farmers and ranchers spent three days on Capitol Hill visiting with Congressional leaders about key issues impacting agriculture in South Dakota and across the nation. Pictured here with Sen. John Thune: Front row: Lura Roti, Sioux Falls; Dallis Basel, Union Center; Karen Voller, Bison; Tammy Basel, Union Center; Bill Zortman, Sioux Falls; Neal Hegg, Huron; Kecia Beranek, Miller; Jodi Hegg, Huron; Judy Mendel, Doland; David Reis, Oacoma; and Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President, Conde.Back Row L to R: Kiana Brockel, Bison; Cassie Sumption, Frederick; Brenda Reis, Oacoma; David Mendel, Doland; Taylor Sumption, Frederick; Kelcy Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Kirk Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Sen. John Thune; and Karla Hofhenke, Huron.

HURON, S.D. – South Dakota family farmers and ranchers spent three days on Capitol Hill visiting with Congressional leaders about key issues impacting agriculture in South Dakota and across the nation.

"Boots on the ground make a difference," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President. "With harvest just around the corner, this is a busy time for our farmers and ranchers to be away from home – this just demonstrates how important these issues are to the farmers and ranchers who took the time to attend this fly-in."

Together with 270 farmers and ranchers from across the nation, South Dakotans helped conduct hundreds of targeted meetings with nearly every Congressional and Senatorial official on Capitol Hill.

The meetings focused on the following issues:

1. Gathering support behind the Senate bill supporting voluntary Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL);

2. Opposing any legislative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while urging Congress to reject the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's flawed proposal for 2014-2016 ethanol blending targets because they are well below the statutory limits;

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3. Urging Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to restore full trade and tourism with Cuba, and urging support of a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Amendment that requires a comprehensive risk assessment plan be in place before resuming trade with parts of Argentina and Brazil that have a history of Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks.

Farmers Union members also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture leaders and key White House staff.

"This was an amazing opportunity to visit about our agriculture operations and how the decisions made here in D.C. impact our farms and ranches in South Dakota," said Tammy Basel, a fourth generation South Dakota rancher who raises sheep and cattle near Union Center with her husband Dallis.

The D.C. Fly-In is an annual event South Dakota Farmers Union has participated in for several decades.

"Year after year, family farmers and ranchers show that they are not only ready to feed the world, but are also willing to take the time from their jobs in the middle of harvest and meet with their elected officials to ensure that smart farm policies are in place for their children and communities," said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President. "Whether it's keeping food labeling on the books, reducing our dependence on foreign oil through greener substitutes, or fighting for smarter trade policies that seek trade deficit reduction as a primary goal, Farmers Union members come to Washington year after year and make a difference."

–South Dakota Farmers Union