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Published December 10, 2012, 10:27 AM

Farmers can make voices heard

After enduring one of the most volatile growing seasons in history, it is time for us in agriculture to step back, evaluate our year and plan on where our farms and ranches are headed next year.

By: Walt Bones,

PIERRE, S.D. — After enduring one of the most volatile growing seasons in history, it is time for us in agriculture to step back, evaluate our year and plan on where our farms and ranches are headed next year.

A lot of this soul-searching is done at our commodity group and farm organization’s annual meetings.

Each year, we gather with our peers, analyze policy at a grass roots level, and bring policy resolutions forward. Sometimes, these resolutions are approved at the local and state levels and are submitted for national consideration. We’ve had good local ideas become part of a federal farm bill. Regardless of where the discussion leads, it is the discussion and the input that is important.

We in South Dakota embrace local, grass-roots control. There are 66 counties, 913 townships, 123 state boards and commissions and other local and statewide leadership positions that are available, filled by producers and citizens. It seems logical to me that with our small population, South Dakota has a higher percentage of its population involved in the policy-making process than any other state.

Getting involved

I encourage all of you to get involved. Make your ideas and thoughts on the issues known. You can make a difference. As the saying goes, “the world is run by those that show up” or “if you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.” Never has that been so true.

That is the ongoing role of the agricultural policy division at the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. We are constantly advocating for our farmers, ranchers and processors so they can do what they do so well. There is not a week that goes by that we are not commenting on policy proposals out of Washington, D.C., or helping a constituent. We have excellent relationships with our congressional delegations. They are looking for input on issues that are relevant to our producers, too.

This holiday season, let’s remember that South Dakota’s greatest blessing is the people who live there. Every one of you contributes to make this state what it is. We need your input. We need to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you are not a member, please join and support the process that serves you so well.

Editor’s Note: Bones is secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

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