Dakota Rural ActionDakota Rural Action http://dakotarural.org Grassroots Organizing for the Future Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 2014 Annual Meeting -SAVE THE DATE http://dakotarural.org/2014-annual-meeting-save-the-date/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2014-annual-meeting-save-the-date http://dakotarural.org/2014-annual-meeting-save-the-date/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:36:48 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4468

Save the Date


27th Annual Meeting

November 7 – 8, 2014

Pierre, South Dakota

Exciting things are in the works for the 2014 Annual Meeting scheduled for November 7 and 8 in Pierre, SD.

This year Dakota Rural Action will celebrate the new relationships being formed by our work on the Keystone XL pipeline, Uranium mining, local foods and Beginning Farmers.

Stay tuned for new, exciting announcements in the near future.


$20 Friday | $20 Saturday | $40 Full Weekend | $60 Couples/Families Full Weekend


CAN’T JOIN US? Consider donating the cost of registration to still support us from afar. Our Annual Meeting is our largest fundraising event of the year. All monies raised go to our general operating fund that allows us to continue the work we do and take on projects not covered by existing grants.


Dakota Rural Action’s adopted resolutions are a guide for our members on how we stand on certain issues. We are now accepting suggestions for new or modified resolutions to be presented at Saturday’s Business Meeting. Please review and submit suggestions HERE.


For more information about the annual meeting, contact Eowyn at eowync@dakotarural.org or 605.697.5204

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Black Hills Power attacks solar energy http://dakotarural.org/bhpattackssolar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bhpattackssolar http://dakotarural.org/bhpattackssolar/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 20:01:31 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4453 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 4, 2014


Steve and Lynn Hammond, Dakota Rural Action members with home solar system: (605)484-4410

Sabrina King, Dakota Rural Action Organizer: (605)939-0527


Rate design will effectively kill solar industry in Black Hills Power electric territory


Rapid City, SD – Black Hills Power, an investor-owned utility which provides power to residents in western South Dakota, is using its most recent rate increase request to put the brakes on growing interest in independent electricity production, particularly small-scale residential solar electric systems.

The company is requesting approval from the Public Utilities Commission for a 10 percent increase in electric rates. But hidden in the request is a change in how they deal with customers who choose to generate their own electricity. If approved, customers in Black Hills Power’s service territory who put up an electric generating system like solar or small wind will be required to pay the “Residential Demand Service” rate. This rate will result in an additional $5 to $20 beyond what a non-generating customer pays. These costs will make investing in small-scale electricity production nearly impossible for residents, hurting local solar businesses and solidifying Black Hills Power’s monopoly in the region.

“Putting in a Residential Demand Service charge is really a hidden fee or penalty charge on solar energy and is the wrong thing to do,” says Steve Hammond, Dakota Rural Action member and owner of a solar electric system. “Solar energy saves our fossil fuels for future generations and solar energy will reduce everyone’s electric bill.”

Dakota Rural Action has intervened in the Black Hills Power rate case and will defend local energy production and the right of citizens and small businesses to invest in, generate, and sell electricity in western South Dakota.


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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Free Farm and Ranch Estate Planning Workshops July 22 & 24 http://dakotarural.org/free-farm-and-ranch-estate-planning-workshops-july-22-24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free-farm-and-ranch-estate-planning-workshops-july-22-24 http://dakotarural.org/free-farm-and-ranch-estate-planning-workshops-july-22-24/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 22:16:15 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4317 Risk has always been a part of agriculture. One of the riskiest, most stressful, and ignored issues of critical importance to ranch and farm families is estate or transition planning.

For this reason, Dakota Rural Action and the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline are jointly hosting a free workshop on farm and ranch business succession and estate planning, as well as new beginning farmer initiatives in the 2014 Farm Bill.  Workshops will be held:


  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in Spearfish at Hudson Hall, Room C, 222 West Hudson Street


  • Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Pierre at Best Western Ramkota, Lake Rooms, 920 W. Sioux Avenue.  (A carpool from Sioux Falls/Brookings is possible, contact heidiku@dakotarural.org)


The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


Presenters include Dave Goeller (Univ. of Neb. Lincoln Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator) and Joe Hawbaker (farm and ranch attorney).

Ignoring estate transfer planning and family decision-making can increase family stress levels. Successful farm and ranch estate planning includes transfer of assets (inheritance) and handing over the business control (succession) to the next generation in a way that increases a family’s economic and interpersonal well-being. Ranch and farm families desiring to establish a successful transfer plan need accurate and current legal, tax, economic, and human relationship information.

This workshop will provide participants:

  • Legal and economic tools for developing effective estate plans and generational farm transfers.
  • Discussion on the importance of family communication, of setting goals, and understanding expectations.
  • Information on using trusts, wills, and titling for business entities in making the farm family estate and business succession planning successful.

Register for the workshop by calling the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

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Now accepting applications for 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 Thu, 26 Jun 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. The deadline for applications is Oct. 17, 2014. 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 may be 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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Keystone XL and South Dakota http://dakotarural.org/keystone-xl-and-south-dakota/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=keystone-xl-and-south-dakota http://dakotarural.org/keystone-xl-and-south-dakota/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 19:14:01 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4265 As of June 29th, TransCanada has a permit they can’t build with.

While their permit may not be expiring, the need to certify the permit opens up the door for all South Dakotans to come together to protect our land, water, farms and ranches, and our way of life – as well as standing up for those all up and down the pipeline route from Alberta to Texas who have to deal with tarsands in its various forms.

South Dakota Codified Law 49-41B-27 requires that if construction has not commenced within four years after a permit has been issued, the utility (in this case, TransCanada) must certify to the Commission that the pipeline continues to meet the conditions upon which the permit was granted. So, if TransCanada wishes to go forward, the company will need to make a filing for certification.

Due to the immense opposition in Nebraska and across the country, TransCanada has not been able to break ground in South Dakota since their permit was granted in 2010. So we now have an opportunity to go back to the PUC, with all the information we have now that we didn’t have back then, and make the case that South Dakota doesn’t need this pipeline.

We don’t intend to ask for a re-route; that simply takes the burden off one rancher and puts it on another. We don’t want any farms or ranches to be put at risk of a spill, and there is a lot to protect here in South Dakota, including the Sandhills, the Mni Wiconi Rural Water System, and the Missouri River.

Will will continue celebrating our growing alliances within South Dakota, and we will be ready when TransCanada files for certification. We hope you will be right there with us.



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Homegrown Sioux Falls hosting 3rd Annual Tour de Coop June 8th http://dakotarural.org/homegrown-sioux-falls-hosting-the-3rd-annual-tour-de-coop-june-8th/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homegrown-sioux-falls-hosting-the-3rd-annual-tour-de-coop-june-8th http://dakotarural.org/homegrown-sioux-falls-hosting-the-3rd-annual-tour-de-coop-june-8th/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 18:01:20 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4249 2014 Tour de Coop

Homegrown Sioux Falls Hosting

3rd Annual Tour de Coop on June 8th

Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls residents are invited to the 3rd Annual Sioux Falls Tour de Coop, a celebration of backyard chickens, on Sunday, June 8th, starting at 2:00 pm. The tour features five coops and kicks off at 1216 N. Main Ave., Sioux Falls, SD. Over 70 people attended last year’s Tour to learn more about raising chickens in the city.

The event is point-to-point, meaning tour participants will move as a group from stop to stop.  Pariticipants will be able to view a variety of coops and receive presentations and resources regarding backyard chicken-raising.  Maps will be distributed at the beginning of the Tour.  Refreshments and door prizes will be featured at the last stop where participants are invited to stay and mingle with other chicken aficionados.

Katie Barnes, whose coop will be featured on the Tour, says that raising backyard chickens helps her family live more sustainably. “It’s a small green contribution that works well for our family. Chickens not only provide fresh eggs for us but are also an asset to our garden.  They add nitrogen to the soil, assist with composting, and they love weeds.  We like to know where our food comes from, especially when raising our children.  We want to share our chicken coop to show how easy it is and hopefully inspire others to raise chickens as well.”

Chickens are also easy to care for, says Ty Kaiser, another tour host, “With proper planning of the coop, feeder and water, raising chickens can be much easier than raising dogs.  Chickens are also very entertaining to watch and interact with.  Each of the “ladies” has a personality all their own.  In having our own flock we’re able to show our friends, family and neighbors that raising your own food in town can extend beyond the garden.”

The tour is hosted by Homegrown Sioux Falls, a chapter of Dakota Rural Action.  It is free and open to the public.



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

Sioux Falls Tour de Coop event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/714762848567242/

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How the grassroots work http://dakotarural.org/how-the-grassroots-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-the-grassroots-work http://dakotarural.org/how-the-grassroots-work/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:53:14 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4089 It’s always good to check in and remind folks why we do what we do – so without further ado, here’s a great overview of Dakota Rural Action.

From Board Chair Paul Seamans and Black Hills Chapter Secretary Gena Parkhurst:

The past few years has seen Dakota Rural Action garnering a higher profile across the entire state. With this increased awareness of our presence comes the question of who is DRA, and what do we stand for? It might help to know why we came into being.

Over 26 years ago DRA was started in the rural areas of eastern South Dakota in response to the 1980’s farm crisis. The cause of the crisis was drastically lower commodity prices along with dramatically higher interest rates (interest went from 7% to over 20% in very short order). From our modest start DRA has grown to over 500 memberships in six chapters across the state, with a main office in Brookings and a West River office in Rapid City.

Today, DRA continues to work on issues important to farmers and ranchers but we have become so much more. We work extensively on the many issues associated with local foods and we have had great success in our beginning farmer program. We have a member committee involved in promoting renewable energy and other member groups promoting urban chickens and still others working on revising the states raw milk laws.

Of major concern to our members is the protection of our environment. The protection of our natural resources is very important to us with the protection of our water being the most important. DRA is allied with the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance to protect our water from uranium mining in the Black Hills and we have allied with our native friends and neighbors in our quest to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.  DRA has no history of working on issues of a social nature. DRA’s membership hasn’t expressed the desire, nor does it have the resources, to address most social issues. DRA feels these issues are best left to individual members to resolve according to their own conscience.

DRA is a membership driven group…meaning the issues we work on are chosen by members. We use the consensus model, to achieve common ground. The consensus model creates strength by unifiying members who then drive our work.

DRA empowers members to get involved with government. DRA employs an organizer who serves as a part-time lobbyist in Pierre during the legislative session. Her role is to work with members to get them to feel comfortable when speaking with legislators directly, and to keep members informed of happenings in Pierre.

DRA’s empowerment of members extends far outside of the group: several membersare running for state and local elected office. Many members have had success when getting involved with community issues.

In spite of the predominance of bad news in the headlines, Dakota Rural Action empowers people who care to make a difference!

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Farm Bill Passes; Protects COOL, Livestock Provisions, Farm Beginnings http://dakotarural.org/2014-farm-bill-passes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2014-farm-bill-passes http://dakotarural.org/2014-farm-bill-passes/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:36:41 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4066 The US Legislature passed the Farm Bill earlier this week, and Dakota Rural Action (DRA) is taking time to thank state officials for their leadership in the protection of County of Origin Labeling (COOL) and rolling back limitations to the USDA’s authority to address certain business practices of meatpackers.  Protecting these provisions in the Farm Bill is seen as a big win for South Dakota ranchers.

“Dakota Rural Action members have worked closely with our congressional delegation to secure Country of Origin Labeling and stronger enforcement capabilities of the Packers & Stockyards Act as far back as the 2002 Farm Bill,” explained SD Rancher and DRA Member Holly Waddell of Shadehill, SD.  “These two pieces of agricultural policy offer great benefit for independent meat producers.  They also help guarantee food sovereignty and security for the United States of America.”

South Dakota’s Senators Johnson and Thune and Representative Noem all acted as leaders on these issues.

“Our ranchers will benefit significantly from this bill,” said Sen. Johnson. “Not only does this compromise enable Country of Origin Labeling to continue as well as maintain USDA’s ability to ensure a fair and transparent marketplace, but it also contains critical livestock disaster assistance programs to help ranchers in my State who are still recovering from the 2012 drought and last year’s terrible blizzard.”

“I commend Senators Johnson and Thune and Representative Noem for their perseverance in defending these important pieces in the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Waddell.

In additions to wins on COOL and Livestock Provisions, beginning SD farmers and ranchers will also see support from the Farm Bill. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) will be fully funded in order to support programs like the Farm Beginnings Program offered by DRA.  The Farm Bill also took some steps to improve a beginning farmer’s access to land.

While the bill did include many wins, there were also some disappointments.

The final bill eliminated reforms to the commodity program subsidies which had passed in both chambers of Congress.  By increasing the subsidy limit and leaving in certain loopholes wealthy farms will be able to collect many times the current payment limit.

SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), a program which provides individuals and families in need with access to food, will be cut by $8.6 billion.

For more information about the work being done at Dakota Rural Action visit www.dakotarural.org or call 605-697-5204.

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Dakota Rural Voices – Raw Milk in South Dakota http://dakotarural.org/dakota-rural-voices-raw-milk-in-south-dakota/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dakota-rural-voices-raw-milk-in-south-dakota http://dakotarural.org/dakota-rural-voices-raw-milk-in-south-dakota/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:34:12 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4064

Check out this episode

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Dakota Rural Voices – Protect Our Water http://dakotarural.org/dakota-rural-voices-protect-our-water/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dakota-rural-voices-protect-our-water http://dakotarural.org/dakota-rural-voices-protect-our-water/#comments Sun, 09 Feb 2014 19:11:30 +0000 http://dakotarural.org/?p=4063

Hear about South Dakota’s HB 1193, an act to protect our water from in situ leach uranium mining, and learn about how things are not always as they seem when it comes to the so-called financial benefits of uranium mines.

Check out this episode

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