South Dakota Stockgrowers host successful convention
The South Dakota Stockgrowers' 121th Annual Convention and Trade Show wrapped up after three days of speakers and meetings to update members on policies, election of officers for the Association and adoption of several new policies.
"This year's convention was very successful and we were glad to see so many members and friends join us," said Shane Kolb, president of the Stockgrowers Association from Meadow, S.D. "We had some very interesting speakers and had some very good discussions with our members about our policies and work as we look to the future of our industry."
Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, started off the convention with a very informative presentation about a variety of issues impacting Stockgrowers policy on the national level. Among other things he updated Stockgrowers members on recent developments with Country of Origin Labeling, beef checkoff reform, animal identification and the farm bill process.
South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones gave the keynote address during the Awards Banquet and presented information regarding the Department of Agriculture's efforts to promote livestock production, specifically feeding capacity, in South Dakota. Bones also shared the results of the Key Leaders Roundtable planning session hosted in June to help guide the department's priorities on items like water management, youth in agriculture, infrastructure development, zoning, research at SDSU and increasing livestock production.
George Chambers, president of R-CALF USA, addressed the audience, urging producers to get involved in organizations like Stockgrowers and to represent their industry with pride. Chambers said, "The issues we face today will shape our children's ability to be successful in the cattle business. We need every producer to be 'all in' if we're going to keep moving forward."
Greg Hanes of the U.S. Meat Export Federation based in Denver spoke about his organization's efforts to promote beef in foreign countries. Hanes focused his presentation on the growing demand for beef in Asian countries where the consumer purchasing power is growing much faster than their ability to produce quality beef. He shared several very interesting facts about the export opportunities for US raised beef and comparison to other beef producing countries' capacity to grow their market shares. Joining Hanes was South Dakota Sen. Shantel Krebs, who spoke about her recent trip to China.
The Brand Committee meeting featured a panel of speakers that included Brand Board members Scott Vance of Faith and Wanda Blair of Vale, and Brand Board Director Larry Stearns. The discussion focused largely on the proposed brand legislation and the recent fee increase for inspections. The Board is now proposing several additional legislative changes dealing with shippers permits, rodeo stock, and elimination of horse inspection.
The Wildlife Committee hosted the Wall FFA Ag Issues Team to present their research regarding the Adrian v. Vonk court case dealing with prairie dogs in the Conata Basin. The team of students will travel to the National FFA Convention in October after winning the State FFA contest last year. The students presented the case and answered questions about the case which attempted to hold the state of South Dakota accountable for damages caused by the explosion of the prairie dog population and encroachment onto private lands.
Other speakers included Max Main, attorney from Belle Fourche speaking about oil and gas leases on private property, U.S. Congressional candidate Matt Varilek, Vicki Olson speaking about wilderness designations and coordination with local governments, South Dakota Rep. Stace Nelson, South Dakota Cattlewomen, and Dr. Amanda Blair, who spoke about her research on fetal programming in beef cattle.
During the membership meeting, Stockgrowers members re-elected Shane Kolb as the president and Bob Fortune as vice-president. This is the second one-year term for both men. Kolb is a rancher and brand inspector from Meadow and has been an active member of Stockgrowers for many years. Fortune ranches with his family on their operation south of Belvidere and he serves as a member of the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.
Randy Volmer of Owanka was elected as Region 3 vice-president. Marvin Jobgen will serve as director from District 3, and Matt Kammerer of Rapid City was elected to represent District 8, replacing Craig Shaver whose term ended this year. Brad Bunker of Arlington replaced Joan Wollschlager as director in District 17.
New policies adopted
Stockgrowers policy platforms that guide the Association throughout the year are adopted by members during the convention and this year four committees proposed policies to be adopted.
Cattlemen's Beef Board members Vaughn Meyer and Linda Gilbert spoke during the convention and explained the procedure that their committee uses to approve funding requests for Checkoff dollars to be spent. The Marketing committee proposed a policy that includes several specific points for reforming the Beef Checkoff to include more transparency and accountability from contractors and to call for the separation of the checkoff funds from policy organizations. The policy was adopted by the membership.
The Stockgrowers Wildlife Management Committee adopted a very comprehensive policy that seeks to address the funding mechanism in the State Prairie Dog Management Plan. The policy resolution adopted by the members calls on the state Department of Agriculture and the South Dakota GF&P to fully fund the management plan as required by the existing state law.
Stockgrowers also amended their agriculture land taxation policy to include strong call for the continued implementation of the production based property tax system with an allowance for the actual use of the property rather than a strict highest-and-best use approach currently being used.
Stockgrowers honor members and present awards
Bill Kluck of Mud Butte, Joan Wollschlager of Lake Preston and Scott Edoff of Hermosa were each presented with a Regional Workhorse Award. The award recognizes them for their dedication and outstanding work to represent Stockgrowers policy, recruit members, and support the work of the Stockgrowers Association.
Mike Maher received a new hat from Star of the West Hat Company and Larry Nelson received a Stockgrowers coat for recruiting the most members in the last year. Maher recruited 31 new members and Nelson recruited 23 throughout the last year.
Amanda Kammerer of Rapid City received a $1,000 Guy E Ham Beef Industry Scholarship from the S.D. Stockgrowers Association and the S.D. Cattlewomen.
"This convention was a great example of the wide number of issues that our members are involved in and the policies that impact so many aspects of the ranching industry," said Kolb. "We appreciate everyone who attended the convention and all the businesses and individuals who donated to our auction and sponsored the events."