Dakota Rural ActionDakota Rural Action http://dakotarural.org Grassroots Organizing for the Future Wed, 11 Mar 2015 22:29:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Grassroots Organizing for the Future Dakota Rural Action no Grassroots Organizing for the Future Dakota Rural Action http://dakotarural.org/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://dakotarural.org The CAFO vs. the Family Farm in South Dakota http://dakotarural.org/the-cafo-vs-the-family-farm-in-south-dakota/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-cafo-vs-the-family-farm-in-south-dakota http://dakotarural.org/the-cafo-vs-the-family-farm-in-south-dakota/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 20:59:25 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4748

Join us today as we talk with Nancy Kirstein, Dakota Rural Action member and farmer. Nancy and her husband run the Good Earth Farm, and we spoke with her about some CAFO legislation going through in Pierre this year, and about the future of agriculture in South Dakota.

Check out this episode!

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Uranium Mining in the Black Hills http://dakotarural.org/uranium-mining-in-the-black-hills/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uranium-mining-in-the-black-hills http://dakotarural.org/uranium-mining-in-the-black-hills/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 11:51:40 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4744

Dakota Rural Action members Becky Leas and Gardner Gray talk about the proposed Dewey-Burdock Project, an in situ leach uranium mine proposal in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. Why, with so many downsides, is the project still on the table?

Check out this episode!

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Renewables in South Dakota http://dakotarural.org/renewables-in-south-dakota/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=renewables-in-south-dakota http://dakotarural.org/renewables-in-south-dakota/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:05:53 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4741

Today we hear from Dennis Williams of Williams Power Systems in Sioux Falls about the promises – and barriers – to small-scale electric generation in South Dakota. The Legislature will be talking about these systems this year, and Dennis geeks out a bit with us to share why these systems are so important to our energy future.

Check out this episode!

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Raw Milk for South Dakota in 2015 http://dakotarural.org/raw-milk-for-south-dakota-in-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=raw-milk-for-south-dakota-in-2015 http://dakotarural.org/raw-milk-for-south-dakota-in-2015/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:03:22 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4733

Last year, our raw milk legislation did not pass, but we did get a Raw Milk Working Group set up to deal with the laws and regulations affecting our raw milk farmers. The result of that Working Group is Senate Bill 45, a great piece of legislation that will hopefully put a bright end on nearly six years of work. Listen in to find out more!

Check out this episode!

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2015 Legislative Preview http://dakotarural.org/2015-legislative-preview/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2015-legislative-preview http://dakotarural.org/2015-legislative-preview/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:42:09 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4722

Dakota Rural Voices is back for another session! Listen in as Rep. Jacqueline Sly and Sen. Bernie Hunhoff talk about what to expect from South Dakota’s 2015 legislative session.

Check out this episode!

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PUC grants – in part – TransCanada’s limit to KXL hearing http://dakotarural.org/puc-grants-in-part-transcanadas-limit-to-kxl-hearing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puc-grants-in-part-transcanadas-limit-to-kxl-hearing http://dakotarural.org/puc-grants-in-part-transcanadas-limit-to-kxl-hearing/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 18:17:53 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4707 Today, the Public Utilities Commission decided on a key issue in the certification process for South Dakota’s portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last month, TransCanada filed a motion to limit discovery – in essence, a limit in what we as intervenors can ask of TransCanada in this hearing. Several parties, including Dakota Rural Action, filed responses, noting their motion was preemptive and clearly trying to keep out issues which should be included in this hearing.

TransCanada, in their motion, has basically attempted to define South Dakota’s state law. And in accepting that motion, the Public Utilities Commission has perhaps allowed a Canadian corporation to define South Dakota’s state law. Seems to be a dangerous precedent.

Commissioner Chris Nelson put forward a granting of TransCanada’s motion that discovery be limited to the amended permit conditions, the findings of fact TransCanada itself identified as bring important, or anything “reasonably calculated to discover admissible evidence.” This seems to be quite broad, and we appreciate the slight opening, as we appreciate the longer timeline granted today by the commission. It is still a tight timeline and there is a lot of work to be done, but we’ll do it all as well as we can.

We have a good team put together and we will make our best case – and we are asking you to do the same. The Public Utilities Commission needs to come from citizens of this state about the Keystone XL pipeline. So join our team today, and let’s stop Keystone XL: Yes! I want to join the Keystone XL Team.

Hearing timeline:

Initial discovery requests due: January 6, 2015
Initial discovery responses due: February 6, 2015
Final discovery requests due: February 20, 2015
Final discovery responses due: March 10, 2015
Pre-filed testimony due: April 2, 2015
Rebuttal to pre-filed testimony due: April 23, 2015

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Farmer Veteran Coalition Joins DRA in Reaching Out to Veteran Farmers http://dakotarural.org/farmer-veteran-coalition-joins-dra-in-reaching-out-to-veteran-farmers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=farmer-veteran-coalition-joins-dra-in-reaching-out-to-veteran-farmers http://dakotarural.org/farmer-veteran-coalition-joins-dra-in-reaching-out-to-veteran-farmers/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:11:17 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4693 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 19, 2014

Contact: Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher, Organizer, Dakota Rural Action, 605-697-5204heidiku@dakotarural.org

By Request:  Additional spokesperson contact information and photos of graduates.


Farmer Veteran Coalition Joins Dakota Rural Action in Reaching Out to Veteran Farmers


Rapid City, SD – The Farmer Veteran Coalition, a non profit organization working with veterans, their families, and employers to support those returning to or beginning careers in food and farming, is sponsoring veterans scholarships for a farmer and rancher training program that will be offered in Rapid City this winter.


The course, called Farm Beginnings, is hosted by Dakota Rural Action, and is a 10-session training program providing participants the opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and ranching and the tools to successfully launch a profitable enterprise. This is the second time Dakota Rural Action has offered the course in Rapid City and the class will likely move to another location in the state next year.  The class is taught by local farmers, ranchers, and agriculture professionals.


Zack Carter, a young veteran who took the Farm Beginnings course last year said, “”The Farm Beginnings class was such a great experience that opened up several new avenues.  I now run cattle with another student from class who was also sponsored from the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The class and the farmer network were and still are involved with decisions I make on a daily basis.”


The course is open to anyone interested in getting started in farming or ranching.  Need-based scholarships are also available for non-veterans who need financial assistance with tuition cost.  Farm Beginnings participants can be of any age, do not need to currently own land, and come from wide range of experiences and farming and ranching interests. Over 50 families have enrolled in the course in the past five years and 83% of graduates are currently engaged in farming activities.


Prospective participants can contact Dakota Rural Action at 605-697-5204 x 220 or email Program Coordinator Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher at heidiku@dakotarural.org.  The course deadline has been extended until the class fills. Course information and online application can be found at www.dakotarural.org/farmbeginnings.


Farm Beginnings® is an established curriculum developed over a decade ago by the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project that is now replicated in several different states, including IL, NE, ND, and NY. Dakota Rural Action has adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of South Dakota farmers and ranchers. The project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-03066.



Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life. www.dakotarural.org

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DRA landowners slam Noem, Thune for anti-rancher votes http://dakotarural.org/dra-landowners-slam-noem-thune-for-anti-rancher-votes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dra-landowners-slam-noem-thune-for-anti-rancher-votes http://dakotarural.org/dra-landowners-slam-noem-thune-for-anti-rancher-votes/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:21:39 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4688 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Contact: Paul Seamans, landowner crossed by Keystone XL: 605-280-7546

John Harter, landowner crossed by Keystone XL: 605-840-9478

Sabrina King, Dakota Rural Action Office: 605-939-0527


Noem votes against requiring Keystone XL operator to pay into Oil Spill Liability Fund, while Thune speaks on the Senate floor in favor of pipeline despite unfinished in-state process

Brookings, SD – With the Senate once and for all voting no on Keystone XL, South Dakota’s landowners continue to be dismayed at Representative Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune’s ongoing representation of big oil interests, rather than the interests of their own constituents.

Noem took a stand last week against South Dakota’s ranchers by voting no on an amendment to HR 5682, which would have required operators of tar sands pipelines like Keystone I and Keystone XL to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Fund. And today, Thune advocated for TransCanada on the floor of the United States Senate.

“TransCanada wants to duck responsibility to pay into the trust fund, and at the same time they want to shift liability of spills to landowners,” says Paul Seamans, in response to Noem’s vote on HR 5682. Because the product carried by both Keystone I and Keystone XL is diluted bitumen for Canada’s tar sands mines, not oil, carriers are not required to pay into the fund that covers oil spills. As a result, those costs and risks are shifted onto landowners and taxpayers.

And despite South Dakota’s on-going review of the pipeline permit by the Public Utilities Commission, today Thune advocated for the passage of S 2280, forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. John Harter, a South Dakota landowner crossed by the route and facing on-going legal battles to protect his land from TransCanada, called Thune out for his statements, saying, “Republicans are trying to pull what they’ve been slamming President Obama for: forcing policy through without going through the proper channels. They’ve been slamming him and now they’re doing it.” Harter and other South Dakota landowners have met with Thuen about the pipeline, and he says, “Thune knows the farmers and ranchers aren’t for this. It will hurt our water resources and our agriculture.”


Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life.www.dakotarural.org

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Still space available in the Farm Beginnings class! http://dakotarural.org/space-and-scholarships-still-available-for-farm-beginnings-class/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=space-and-scholarships-still-available-for-farm-beginnings-class http://dakotarural.org/space-and-scholarships-still-available-for-farm-beginnings-class/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:25:59 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=2125 FB Do you Want to Farm

Now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 class in Rapid City

Farm Beginnings is a farmer and rancher-led training and support program offered by Dakota Rural Action that provides participants an opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and offers the tools to successfully launch a farm enterprise.




  Dyck Farm


What is the course?

Farm Beginnings is a training program taught by local farmers and ranchers that provides participants with the support and education needed to launch a profitable and sustainable enterprise. Beginners of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to apply and participants do not need to currently own land.

This is the sixth year DRA has offered the Farm Beginnings course in South Dakota. This year classes will be held every other Saturday in Rapid City. All sessions are led by established local farmers and ranchers and agriculture professionals. Classes provide real world skills in areas such as Whole Farm Planning, Financial Planning, Marketing, Business Planning, Connecting with Resources, and Connecting with Mentors. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of on-farm tours and skills sessions offered during the spring and summer, as well as engage in mentorships or apprenticeships with local farmers.

The course provides a solid base of knowledge around farm business planning as well as the opportunity to network with both beginning and established farmer mentors.


Who should take Farm Beginnings?

Anyone interested in developing or transitioning their enterprise. Participants can be of any age, do not need to own land, and prospective, beginning, part-time, and full-time farmers are welcome!


What kind of enterprises are participants engaged in?

Participants come with a wide array of sustainable farming interests and experience, including:

  • Cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, poultry, and other livestock
  • Dairy
  • Grazing
  • Vegetable and fruit production
  • High Tunnels
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets
  • Crops and Hay
  • Fiber production
  • Specialty products like value-added foods
  • Flowers and herbs


The size and scale of production ranges from very small (just a few acres or a small urban plot) to large (hundreds or thousands of acres in production). Experience levels range from no experience farming to currently owning and operating their own farm.

Read about some of the experiences of people who have completed the course:

Graduate Profiles and Student Feedback


Is there an on-farm component?

Yes, the course is closely connected to DRA’s Farmer Network, a group devoted to making connections between beginning and established farmers through resource sharing and education. Opportunities within the Farmer Network include access to on-farm internships/apprenticeships, farm tours and field days, land and equipment linking, and more.


When and where are classes held?

Classes begin in December and will be held in Rapid City, SD at the West River Ag Center.

2014 Class Schedule

How do I apply and when is the deadline?

Class size is limited and early application is encouraged. Deadline was Oct. 31, however we will accept applications until the class fills.  Apply ASAP.  A $100 non-refundable deposit is required with your application. Applications can be completed online or in paper format. Information packets and paper copies of the application are also available.

Apply for the class


What is the tuition and is there financial aid?

The cost of the class is $1500 per farm unit for the 10-month program. There are a limited number of scholarships for up to $750 that are generously donated by community members and businesses to help support participants who need financial aid. Participants also have the option of spreading out payments over the 10-months of the program.

Participant tuition only covers a fraction of the course costs and Farm Beginnings is made possible through grant support from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Veterans: Special retraining funding are available to help with course tuition. Please contact us to learn more.


Have questions about the course, the application process, or would like to request an information packet? Contact Us!

Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher
Organizer/Farm Beginnings Program Coordinator
Ph: 605.697.5204 ex. 220
Email: heidiku@dakotarural.org

DRA’s Farm Beginnings program is a member of the The Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings, a farmer training model that is community based and farmer led.


This project was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-03066.

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South Dakotans to fight TransCanada on their own turf http://dakotarural.org/south-dakotans-to-fight-transcanada-on-their-own-turf/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=south-dakotans-to-fight-transcanada-on-their-own-turf http://dakotarural.org/south-dakotans-to-fight-transcanada-on-their-own-turf/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:25:33 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4672 Press conference: Capitol Building sidewalk, 15 minutes after PUC hearing ends
Press call: Wednesday, October 29, 11:30am CT: 866-952-7528, Passcode KXL

Dakota Rural Action will be live-tweeting the PUC hearing; follow @DakotaRural


Pierre, SD – The fight to stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline can add one more state to its battleground: South Dakota. A powerful coalition of local allies has intervened in the certification of the pipeline permit at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, and the battle for the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota could be decided by voters strongly opposed to Keystone XL.

Four tribal nations and a number of grassroot Native groups, each belonging to the Oceti Sakowin, have petitioned to intervene. Those tribes are the Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and Yankton Sioux Tribes. Dakota Rural Action, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and several South Dakota landowners have also petitioned to intervene. This coalition is comprised of tribal nations, non-profit organizations, individual tribal citizens and non-tribal landowners; each dedicated to the protection of Mother Earth and the natural resources of South Dakota and is called No KXL Dakota.

TransCanada has opposed the intervention of several applicants to party status, including the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utility Commission Office, both Native entities dealing with energy issues in South Dakota. The Public Utilities Commission will decide Tuesday, October 26 at 11:00am CT who will be approved as a party.

This high-profile pipeline battle has intensified with the South Dakota congressional race. Republican candidate Mike Rounds is the only candidate fully endorsing the pipeline, while Democratic opponent Rick Weiland has gained local support because of his opposition to Keystone XL and Independent Larry Pressler has also courted the Native vote.

No KXL Dakota allies have pledged to stand their ground and not back down in the now-local battle over property, land, water, human trafficking, and treaty rights.

Contacts: Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network Organizer: (507) 412-7609

Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Protect the Sacred: (605)481-0416

Paul Seamans, Dakota Rural Action Board Chair: (605)280-7546

Lewis Grassrope, Wiconi Un Tipi Lower Brule Organizer: (605)208-0606


Supporters: Pte Ospaye Cheyenne River Spirit Camp

South Dakota Peace and Justice Center

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utility Commission Office


Contact Quotes:

Paul Seamans, Dakota Rural Action: “The PUC treated people involved in the KXL permit hearing in 2009/2010 with much respect. They listened to us, were fair with us, and added 50 conditions to the permit, due in large part to the testimony of concerned citizens. I expect things to be no different this time.”

Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Protect the Sacred: “At a time when North American is reeling from violent acts, we cannot forget about violent acts against the environment. Our water is already polluted and we are at a tipping point for destruction.”

Lewis Grassrope, Wiconi Un Tipi: “We are here to ensure that this committee [the PUC] hears our voice on this opposition to the pipeline or any pipeline through these lands. We are only spiritual human beings trying to protect and preserve our rights under natural law. Our concerns are the many problems that will come from this pipeline. Oil spills into our only drinking supply of the Missouri River and the Ogallala Aquifer. The man camps that will be coming if the pipeline is built. The destruction and depletion of lands, water, wildlife, and people. Now after hearing that all we see coming is death to our ecosystem and people.”

Joye Braun, Pte Ospaye Spirit Camp: “Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp mission is stand in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the social evils that come with Big Oil, to educate the people about the KXL Pipeline, fracking, and the pollution that occurs with oil production. Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp is located just outside of the Bridger Community on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and 2.2 miles from where the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline proposes to go through. It is a hugely historic area known for centuries as a crossroads for Natives Peoples to travel through on their way to the Black Hills. It is ground zero for the Lakota people fighting this pipeline as it would have to pass through this area first to try and get to the other camps and Nebraska.”


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