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A united voice South Dakota Farm Bureau prioritizes farm, ranch and rural families

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Jan. 18, 2020

Pierre, S.D. – South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) is a grassroots membership organization established in 1917 when the first county Farm Bureaus banded together to create the state organization, and today represents more than 16,000 farm, ranch and rural families.

            “South Dakota Farm Bureau works every day to represent, uphold and improve our state’s number one industry. We are a well-respected and effective voice in Pierre, representing the policies adopted each year by our members,” according to SDFB.

Policy development

            “The policy-development process begins at the county level when members bring forward resolutions and vote on them at their county annual meeting,” says SDFB. “From there, approved resolutions are brought to the state level and voted on by delegates at the South Dakota Farm Bureau annual meeting.” 

            Adopted resolutions then become part of official SDFB policy, under which the organization operates and for which it lobbies in Pierre at the State Legislature.      “Resolutions dealing with national issues go on for consideration by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF),” says SDFB. “There issues are to be voted upon by delegates from each state Farm Bureau at the annual AFBF national convention.”

Policy priorities 

            Following some direction from AFBF, SDFB policy priorities include national hot button issues such as hemp production, as well as local issues such as chemical spray drift and financing for county and township roads.

            According to SDFB, the 2018 Farm Bill allowed states to legalize industrial hemp production by submitting plans to USDA. 

            “USDA has 60 days to review the state plan and approve it or work with the state to change and make it acceptable,” says SDFB. “More than 40 states have approved the process and have, or are planning to, submit plans to USDA.”

            During the 2019 South Dakota Legislature, HB 1181 was approved and sent to the governor. The governor vetoed HB 1181. The House overrode the veto, but the Senate failed in their attempt, so HB 1181 did not become law.

            While SDFB does not currently have a policy relating to hemp, AFBF is pro-industrial hemp. 

            “We support the production, processing, commercialization and utilization of industrial hemp and that it be regulated by USDA rather than the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA),” says AFBF. “We support legislation to amend the Controlled Substance Act to exclude industrial hemp.”

            In an attempt to increase discussion about future hemp policy, SDFB listed pros and cons of legalization. 

            Some of the pros include the state’s ability to background growers and approve seed tags to ensure the plant does not contain too much THC, the psychoactive ingredient commonly associated with marijuana. 

            SDFB also notes hemp production brings about economic opportunities for both producers and processors, some of which have already testified they would be ready to process hemp. Hemp could also act as an alternative to existing crops with depressed cash flows.

            Most of the cons listed by SDFB have to do with the inability to easily distinguish between hemp and marijuana in a timely manner, making roadside stops and field testing extremely timely and costly.

            SDFB has also questioned the adequacy of laws surrounding damages from drift sprays. 

            “We support state and local farm organizations have input in the handling and use guidelines of hazardous chemicals,” says SFBF. “We oppose any additional taxes and regulations on non-registered ag chemicals.”

            SDFB continues, “We oppose any additional taxes to pay for chemical spills and oppose cities, municipalities or townships enacting stricter regulations than current state or federal regulations in regard to the use, storage or disposal of ag chemicals.”

            “We oppose holding farmers legally or financially responsible for trace amounts of ag chemicals found in a water source providing manufacturer’s directions and

instructions have been followed,” says SDFB. “We oppose holding present owners accountable for past violations of water protection or environmental laws by former owners of the land.”

            Counties in east central South Dakota met recently and discussed how important local roads are for ag production. Also noted were the unsuccessful efforts for legislative action. Without additional funds, backlog of road conditions will likely increase.

            According to SDFB, one idea discussed was a small tax on dyed diesel, dedicated to county and township roads, would be paid by the main users of the local roads. Two-tenths of a cent per gallon would raise $3.2M per year. All monies collected would be dedicated to local farm-to-market roads.

            SDFB policy opposes adding a tax on dyed diesel fuel. SDFB policy has had the above policy for many years. They have always feared starting down the road of taxing fuel used off the highways for road purposes could be a slippery slope. Once started, it would be more easily increased or diverted.

            Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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