South Dakota to host National Farmers Union Convention
March 11, 2010
RAPID CITY, SD – Farmers and ranchers from across the United States will gather in South Dakota next week for the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual convention March 14-16 at Rapid City, S.D. The convention will be held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center.
“South Dakota has a rare opportunity to host one of the nation’s largest agricultural conventions, and we’re honored to do so,” said South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke. “It’s a chance for us to show our state off to the entire country. Farmers and ranchers from all across the U.S. will be here, and we’re excited to have them. We’re ready to show them how great this state is.”
SDFU will send six voting delegates to the NFU who will shape the policy of the agricultural organization. Jared Hettinger, of Stickney; Chad Johnson, of Groton; Norris Patrick, of White; and Deb Harwood, of Union Center were elected by the SDFU membership to serve as delegates. SDFU Vice President Wayne Soren, of Lake Preston, and SDFU Board Member Franklin Olson, of Pierpont, will also serve as voting delegates. Many SDFU members from across the state will also be in attendance.
“Policy discussion is one of the most important aspects of the convention,” Sombke said. “It’s grassroots to the core. Farmers and ranchers who are working in the field every day get to have their voices heard in the halls of Congress. They set the policy this organization follows when it talks to members of Congress about farming and ranching issues.”
The convention’s keynote address will be given by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack who is scheduled to speak Monday, March 15, at 11:45 a.m. Other speakers include South Dakota’s Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael T. Scuse, and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. Breakout sessions on climate change, health care, media, renewable energy, and youth involvement will also be held.
The National Farmers Union Foundation will also hold a fundraiser the evening of Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center. An Evening for Education will feature live and silent auctions, a banquet, games and prizes. Proceeds from the event support the education programs of National Farmers Union.