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People, communities in crisis focus of Farmers Union convention

HURON, SD – The depressed farm economy along with farm stress are top of mind for delegates attending the National Farmers Union (NFU) convention this week in Savannah, Ga.

South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke says much of their discussion has centered on trying to find solutions for low prices as well as for assistance for those farmers and ranchers dealing with depression.

“People are concerned that we are under some pretty major stress because of the farm economy and what can we do to help each other in our rural communities .  That’s the major talking point of this convention.”

He says NFU members also heard from Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue who talked about efforts by both Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau to help with stress levels.

“He talked about the work that Farmers Union is doing with Farm Bureau on that front,” shares Sombke.   “But he also talked about the need for agriculture to start looking for a brighter day and a better tomorrow.  It’s hard to envision that yet.  We haven’t really seen any way to turn that around but he was hopeful and positive about his message.”

Sombke says there also was a lot of talk about climate change and producers working to store carbon and enhance water quality.

“There’s more interest about storing carbon.  That’s really where the talk is,” says Sombke.
“And also about keeping the water, air, and soil clean and healthy.  How do we keep from polluting our water using the methods we use today in agriculture?  It really has been a good convention on those topics.”

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Rancher and ag lender Austin Havlik of Mitchell explains some farm bill priorities of the cattle industry in Valley Springs on Apr. 12, 2024. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

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