Diverse cattlemen South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association serves a diverse state and diverse cattle operations
Published on Jan. 18, 2020
“South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) is a membership-driven association covering the entirety of South Dakota,” SDCA President Eric Jennings explains.
“Being statewide in a state as diverse as South Dakota can be a challenge,” he notes. “The east and west sides of the Missouri River are vastly different. It is much more than a geographic divide, it’s a cultural divide as well.”
Eric explains the soil types on each side of the river are vastly different. The east side of the state has ideal conditions for row crops and cattle feeding operations. Meanwhile, the western side of the state is dominated by rangelands and large cattle operations.
“We do our best to encompass all types of cattle operations and producers,” says Jennings. “We are here to enhance the business climate for South Dakota beef producers and increase the viability of producers across the state.”
According to SDCA, they are a grass roots organization consisting of 15 county and regional affiliates and two councils.
SDCA affiliates and councils appoint representatives to the SDCA Board of Directors and policy committees. These volunteer leaders are the producers’ voice at the state level, setting SDCA’s goals and shaping policy. These policies are then carried by SDCA members to the legislature, state agencies, consumer groups and media, providing a statewide voice for today’s beef producers.
As an affiliate of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), SDCA provides a voice for South Dakota cattlemen on national issues affecting local ranchers.
“Our involvement with NCBA ensures South Dakota ranchers have a seat at the decision-making table,” says SDCA. “The NCBA Washington office is considered one of the most effective ag lobbying groups on the Hill, while the Denver office conducts research, communication, membership services and beef promotion activities.”
According to SDCA, their mission is to advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen by enhancing profitability through representation, promotion and information sharing.
“Our vision is to be a producer-oriented organization that consumers and producers rely on for factual information to enhance a profitable business climate and promote environmental stewardship,” says SDCA.
Policy committees cover a variety of topics and issues effecting beef producers, according to SDCA.
The agriculture and food policy committee aids in developing a plan of work and policies that will ensure cattlemen are being represented and addressed in legislation and regulation dealing with general agriculture or food-related policies.
The cattle health and well-being committee provides strategic guidance to develop a plan of work and policies which will ensure cattle health and well-being issues are addressed to maintain the health and quality care of cattle.
The federal lands committee is charged with providing the strategic direction for a viable federal lands cattle industry using historical means and new opportunities.
International markets ensures international marketing initiatives and trade policy are integrated, provides direction and support for U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) activities and coordinates with the U.S. market so global market opportunities are maximized.
The live cattle marketing committee provides guidance in developing policies and a climate that will ensure live cattle marketing, grading, risk management and transportation issues are addressed in an effective manner, allowing the beef industry to maximize profitability while consistently meeting consumer needs and increasing market share.
Membership and information provides the necessary strategic guidance that will assure the resources and strong state/affiliate coordination required to achieve the SDCA mission.
The property rights and environmental management develops policy and provides the necessary strategic guidance that will assure property rights and environmental issues are identified and managed effectively and efficiently, thereby avoiding an adverse effects on beef purchases.
Tax and credit addresses all federal and state tax and credit matters involving the beef cattle industry.
“One of our biggest priorities is getting involved with issues early before legislation is written,” says Eric. “It’s much easier for us to guide the initial legislation than try to change it after the fact.”
Eric noted SDCA has recently worked on a lot of national-scale issues.
“One thing that has really affected us this year were issues that arose due to crop insurance claims following the devastating blizzards and floods,” says Eric. “For those who claimed delayed planting, they couldn’t harvest or graze those lots until Nov.1.”
Eric notes waiting this late can be problematic as it is often too late to harvest or have adequate nutritional value for grazing.
“Our concern was there were millions of acres in South Dakota not planted, and the issue we saw was a possible shortage of forage for feeders and cow/calf operators,” Eric explains. “We were able to convince USDA to make an administrative change and didn’t have to go through legislation to get an earlier harvest date so producers could produce a crop with some nutritional value.”
SDCA also assists in steering legislation in regards to livestock deprivation.
“We have over 7,000 elk in the Black Hills that come down to eat harvested feed in the winter,” says Eric. “In the spring, they often hit hay meadows which can be costly to hay producers.”
Also on the wildlife front, SDCA has worked on getting the gray wolf delisted to help ranchers avoid predation of their herds.
“We have also been very involved with meat labeling issues,” Eric states. “Labels such as country of origin, organic and natural need to be accurate and verifiable.”
He continues, “For fake meat products, consumers need to know what they are purchasing and eating.”
“Its really important for us producers to have a good livestock association in the state to represent us,” says Eric. “Our staff keeps track of issues 12 months a year so we are able to guide and direct policy before its written.”
He continues, “SDCA is a constant vigilance for issues.”
Visit sdcatlemen.org for more information.
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.