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South Dakota Farmers Union feeds farmers during harvest

HURON- During harvest, mornings come early for South Dakota farmers like Greg Mehling. By 7 a.m. the Wessington farmer and his son, Cole are greasing combines or they are behind the wheel en route to the local elevator to unload trucks. By mid-mo...

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Wessington farmer, Greg Mehling, visits with a South Dakota Farmers Union staff member after receiving a sack lunch as part of the Farmers Union Harvest Lunch Program.

HURON- During harvest, mornings come early for South Dakota farmers like Greg Mehling. By 7 a.m. the Wessington farmer and his son, Cole are greasing combines or they are behind the wheel en route to the local elevator to unload trucks. By mid-morning they are in the field combining soybeans. That's where Greg and Cole will be until about 9 p.m."Sure the days are long, but this is my favorite time of year," says the fourth-generation farmer who raises corn, soybeans and some wheat. Working within a small window of time allocated by Mother Nature to get the crop harvested before the weather turns, Mehling explains that there is no time to stop - even for meals. So, when Mehling was handed a sack lunch as he was unloading at Wheat Growers' Wolsey elevator the other day, he says it was appreciated. "Usually during harvest we're living off sandwiches, so it's nice to change things up a bit - and it shows that they are thinking about you," Mehling says. Feeding those who make their career out of growing crops to feed the world is the focus of South Dakota Farmers Union Harvest Lunch program, explained Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "It is one way we can say 'thank you' to family farmers for what they do to feed the rest of us and care for the land," Hofhenke says. "These are some of the people who make up our state's number one industry." Each harvest, Hofhenke along with other Farmers Union state staff, visit cooperative elevators handing out hundreds of lunches to farmers as they pull up to unload grain. "We even make field stops if we see someone combining," Hofhenke says. She adds that because of low commodity prices this harvest, the team at South Dakota Farmers Union hopes these lunches also bring encouragement to farmers. According to Chad Dylla, General Manager of Prairie Ag Partners cooperative near Lake Preston, it works. "When Farmers Union shows up with the lunches, farmers see that someone recognizes what they are doing this time of year," Dylla says. Dylla adds that although prices are down, yields are better than expected, so farmers are optimistic. "At least the yields are there, so if we get a turn in the markets, 2016 harvest could turnout decent." Like the farmers they serve, Dylla and his team put in long hours during harvest as anywhere from 100 to 300 trucks pull in to unload at the elevator. Dylla says they expect to take in about 16 million bushels of grain this harvest. To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit  www.sdfu.org .

Related Topics: HEALTHSOUTH DAKOTACROPSFOOD
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