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2019 SD Farmers Union Convention held in Aberdeen Dec. 10-11

Posted on: November 22, 2019   |   Category: News Releases
John Phipps
John Phipps

HURON, S.D. – What does the future of agriculture look like? Illinois farmer and Farm Journal columnist John Phipps will start the conversation with South Dakota farmers and ranchers Dec. 10 during the 2019 South Dakota Farmers Union State Convention held in Aberdeen Dec. 10-11 at the Ramkota Convention Center (1400 8th Ave NW).

“Today we are looking at an entirely different situation than we have ever seen in my 45 years of farming. This is not the future we all assumed would be here,” says Phipps, who will delve into several factors which impact the reality U.S. farmers and ranchers find themselves in today, during his convention talk, “Rebuilding the Future.”

He will discuss factors like trade wars, oversupply and a world population expanding much slower than predicted. Not only are birthrates in developed countries below replacement rate of 2.1 (the U.S. is down to a historic low of 1.7 children per woman), but the same trend is mirrored in developing countries like India, China and Nigeria. “The world population isn’t going to be 20 billion by 2050,” Phipps explains. “We assumed demography would mean demand. Our business plan was, we were going to grow lots of things we like to grow and then we would sell as much as we could here, in the U.S., and whatever else we grew we would sell to others.”

In addition to discussing the changing trends, Phipps will begin a dialogue with Farmers Union members and supporters about what producers can do so their farms and ranches can realize a future – albeit a future different from anticipated.

“I am optimistic about our future. But it’s not going to look exactly like we think it will,” Phipps says. Adding that a positive future for U.S. agriculture relies upon producers making time to meet to discuss challenges and solutions together. “We don’t get together enough. We need to be able to sit down and discuss with people in our own industry what kind of future we are going to work toward.”

Grassroots policy
Getting together, in person, to discuss challenges and propose policy to overcome obstacles and support South Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers, is the most important focus of SDFU’s annual convention, explains President Doug Sombke. “Many of us face similar challenges. So, when we come together, a membership of more than 16,000 creates a strong voice to impact change.”

Although changes to policy take time, Sombke says you only need to look to the 2019 announcement made by Gov. Kristi Noem that the state fleet will run on E30 to see how grassroots policy, developed by SDFU members, can impact positive change.

Delegates will take policy voted on during the 2019 State Convention with them to the National Farmers Union convention held March 2020 in Georgia.

Mike Oster 1
Mike Oster

It all begins with attitude
With flooding and markets, it is difficult for farmers and ranchers to focus on the positive. This is where convention speaker, Mike Oster, comes in. Growing up on a farm near Ethan in the 80s, Oster understands the challenges facing farm and ranch families today.

He encourages self-reflection, “Don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. What you do benefits so many more people than yourself.” He brings a variety of life-experiences to his talk. Oster has served as an elected official, owns and operates private businesses, has participated and continues to sit on a number of volunteer boards, and has been wearing the uniform of the United States Army through more than 33 years of service in the South Dakota Army National Guard. Oster is a veteran serving in both Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait and Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He continues to serve in the Army National Guard to this day and currently holds the rank of Brigadier General.

Oster reminds folks to focus on what they can control. “Although there are many things you cannot control in this industry, taking the time to put things into perspective and worry about what you do have control over can provide a sense of relief.”

Education thrives because of you
SDFU members and supporters will also have the opportunity to support educational programming by attending the Night on the Prairie fundraiser. A fun evening of conversation, silent auction and entertainment.

To register and for a complete agenda for the SD Farmers Union Convention, visit www.sdfu.org or call 605-352-6761 ext. 111.