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SDFU Urges Senators to Stop Merger, Support Disapproval Resolution
South Dakota Ag Connection - 03/05/2021

South Dakota farmers and ranchers opposed to merging the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have one more chance thanks to Senate Resolution of Disapproval 901. If passed, Senate Resolution of Disapproval 901 would not allow Governor Kristi Noem's executive order to go into effect.

This would be a positive move for the state's number one industry, agriculture, said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President and fourth generation Conde farmer.

"Merging these two departments will result in fewer seats at the table for our farmers and ranchers. South Dakota Farmers Union calls upon the 2021 South Dakota Legislature to reject any plan to merge these two departments or any other state agency," Sombke said during his March 4 testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. "An industry creating $32.5 Billion dollars annually to our economy deserves its stand-alone department ensuring our family farmers and ranchers remain a priority to the great state of South Dakota."

Sombke testified on behalf of the more than 20,000 family farmer and rancher members of South Dakota Farmers Union. As part of their grassroots 2021 policy development, members voted unanimously to oppose the merger during the 106th South Dakota Farmers Union State Convention.

"Our agriculture industry depends upon the Department of Agriculture remaining a stand-alone agency to best serve the many hard working South Dakota community-minded family farmers and ranchers," Sombke said. "Invariably there will be conflicts on land use, water issues or air quality that will involve modern agriculture. Currently there would be someone from DENR investigating those issues. With the planned merger, we are very concerned about who will stand up and defend agriculture in those scenarios."

South Dakota Farmers Union urges citizens opposed to merging the Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources to contact their senator today. The vote could be held as early as March 8.

It reads: Merging of SD Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

South Dakota's number one industry is Agriculture, and the states farmers and ranchers are the backbone of this industry. South Dakota's farmers and ranchers need to be a priority of the state government and be ensured adequate voice when it comes to resources, policies and support for production agriculture.

The purpose of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is to protect air, water and land, while the purpose of the Department of Agriculture is to promote and protect agriculture in South Dakota. These two missions stand independent of one another, while they also serve as a check and balance system for one another.

To learn more about how S.D. Farmers Union works to support family farmers, ranchers and rural communities, visit www.sdfu.org.


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