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SDWIA returns in 2021 

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the South Dakota Women in Ag (SDWIA) group was back on track with its 2021 conference held Oct. 7-8, at The Lodge at Deadwood.  

During the event, several highly regarded women in agriculture and industry representatives presented on a variety of topics including: building confidence and improving communication, cattle outlooks, border ranching and conservation funding, as well as a restaurant perspective on ag.  

Power of rural women 

The keynote speaker was Stacy Hadrick of Faulkton, S.D. with her presentation titled “Friday Underwear – Building Confidence and Communication.” 

“We are unique,” she said. Rural women make up only one percent of the population, and no one else has the same conversations we do.” 

She reminded the audience to celebrate both the completion of little things and the monumental things, such as the end of breeding season. 

“We all need our Friday underwear – something that gives us a boost of confidence and gets us through the day,” Hadrick added.  

 She went on to say that her Friday underwear are her shoes, but it is different for everyone. For some it may be cowboy boots, makeup or jewelry.  

“We also need this boost when it’s time to take risks,” she noted. “So, put on your Friday underwear and go tackle the world!” 

Checkoff outlook 

The schedule  included a panel discussion regarding outlooks in the cattle industry. The panel featured three speakers from different organizations. 

Karina Jones of Ansley, Neb. is a full-time field director for Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). Myron Williams of Wall, S.D. is with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Justin Tupper serves as vice president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and is owner/manager of the St. Onge Livestock Auction in St. Onge, S.D. 

Tupper was unable to be present, but each panel member had previously been given a list of questions to be asked during the panel.  One question focused on each organization’s position on beef checkoff reform. 

Williams pointed out the Beef Checkoff has been challenged several times, but has survived court rulings. According to Williams, the program gets the face of beef out in front of everyone. NCBA has been a supporter for a long time and will remain so. 

Tupper shared he is confident South Dakota uses its dollars in the best manner possible, although on a national level, he feels it should be revamped. As a whole, he says, the checkoff needs to remain in place. 

Jones reminded the audience the industry has turned over a generation of cattle producers who haven’t had a say in this checkoff. 

“Beef consumption has steadily declined since 1985 when the checkoff was made mandatory,” Jones said. “Chicken consumption has skyrocketed, and chicken doesn’t even have a checkoff.” 

U.S. Border ranching 

Erica Valdez of Animas, N.M. was on hand to discuss ranching on the U.S./Mexico border. She and her husband raise cattle and registered Quarter Horses in the very southwest corner of the state. They have a 15-year-old daughter who is homeschooled. 

Illegal aliens from Mexico have long been a presence on their ranch, she shared. In the past, they were mainly family units looking for food and water, and sometimes work. Now the population has changed. Heavily armed men wearing camouflage have replaced the families, with most carrying bales of drugs on their backs. Some of them are human smugglers bringing people into and out of the U.S. 

Valdez herself has crossed paths with the former, and since 2010, three different occurrences have shaken up their little community. 

  Valez shared, the wall constructed on the border was only partly completed, and there are gaps in it. Since construction was shut down by the current administration, it has left funnels where people can travel back and forth. The barbed wire which makes up much of the remaining border is easily cut and driven over. 

“Humans on the border is what is needed most,” Valdez concluded. “Please tell my story, because in the long run this affects everyone in the room.” 

Conservation funding 

 Sarah Eggebo of Prairie City, S.D. is a district conservationist at the Bison, S.D. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office. She explained two programs in which the NRCS helps carry out. 

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) is usually tied to emergency situations such as drought, fire and flooding. In the case of drought, NRCS conservationists evaluate existing water sources. Based on their findings, help may be available to install tanks, pipelines, etc. 

The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) is designed more for long-term planning in the event that another emergency such as drought returns. Practices have usually already been established to deal with it. 

Restaurant perspective 

Nick Caton, owner of Killian’s Steakhouse in Spearfish, S.D. wrapped up the conference with his perspective of ag from a restaurateur. Caton worked in fine dining before moving to Spearfish.  

Caton needs quality ingredients, which he obtains through food supply trucks, but also from the local grocery store, local farmers’ markets and even small farms. He shared he likes to know about his ingredients in detail, and even went to a livestock sale barn to see how cattle were sorted and sold. 

 In conclusion, Caton said, “It is important my sources deliver or self-distribute in some way,” he stated. “Convenience for me is key.” 

Melissa Burke is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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