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The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots organization whose individual producer members determine issues of importance to the state's livestock industry. With input into the policy development, each member has the opportunity to influence SDSGA's policy and priorities. Individual members of the Association pull together to make powerful decisions - dedicated to promoting the livestock industry and enhancing the opportunity for profitability.

SD Stockgrowers News

SD Stockgrowers Association Applaud Decision on Insurance Claim

SD Stockgrowers Association Applaud Decision on Insurance Claim

 

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association applaud the ruling by the Supreme Court, finding that DeSmet Farm Mutual Insurance was required to pay for livestock lost in the 2013 Winter storm Atlas.   The Supreme Court ruling, issued last Wednesday, requires DeSmet Farm Mutual Insurance to pay Richard and Lorayna Papousek of Quinn, for 93 head of yearling heifers that were killed in the blizzard.

Stockgrowers President Bill Kluck said, “We’re really happy to see that the Papousek’s are finally going to see a payment for their lost livestock. It’s really a shame that it took a Supreme Court ruling for this family to be paid by their insurance company. We’re glad that this case settled in favor of the ranchers, and appreciate Justice Janine Kern’s decision.”

Winter Storm Atlas hit western South Dakota in early-October 2013. Papousek’s submitted an insurance claim for the death of 93 heifers. The family’s veterinarian determined the cause of death to be drowning from water found in the animal’s lungs, which had been inhaled from the heavy blowing snow and rain. The company denied the claim on a technicality saying that the cattle hadn’t died by submersion in a body of water and therefore hadn’t drowned. The court case centered on the definition of “drowning” which was not clearly defined in the insurance policy purchased by the Papousek’s.

In the July 20 ruling, the South Dakota Supreme Court Justices all concurred in Judge Kern’s ruling on the side of the Papousek family’s claim and required DeSmet Farm Mutual to pay the claim.

“If you pay your insurance company for coverage, it shouldn’t be too much to ask them to take care of your claim when you have a loss like this. It’s hard to keep your business going through a disaster if your insurance company doesn’t back you up. I really hope that we don’t see this type of case again,” said Kluck.

“I’d encourage everyone to make sure you review your livestock insurance policies so you know what’s in the fine print and feel confident that you’re working with a company that will take care of business when you need them to.”

 

Supporters Urge Congress to Take Action and Pass Meaningful Commodity Checkoff Program Reform

 Supporters Urge Congress to Take Action and Pass Meaningful Commodity Checkoff Program Reform

 

Washington, DC – More than 140 organizations, ranchers, farmers and businesses applaud Senators Booker and Lee for filing legislation that, when passed, will stop commodity checkoff program abuses. Yesterday, the Senators filed the Commodity Checkoff Program Improvement Act (S. 3201), which would put an end to the most egregious abuses committed by the boards of the federally-mandated commodity checkoff programs. In addition, Senator Lee filed the Voluntary Checkoff Program Participation Act (S. 3200), which would ensure no farmer or rancher is forced to pay fees into programs that do not promote their market segment. The 143 organizations, individuals and businesses delivered to the sponsors and to other Senate offices a joint letter of support.

Checkoff programs were established to provide equal benefits to all producers of a particular commodity by using funds gained from mandatory assessments to conduct promotion and research for that commodity. Laws establishing checkoff programs explicitly prohibit the use of funds in ways that would directly influence legislation or government action in order to prevent unfair distribution of benefits amongst producers. Despite this aim, misuse of checkoff programs has allowed for inappropriate relationships between checkoff boards and lobbying organizations. This has created an anticompetitive effect, benefiting certain producers to the detriment of others, and forcing some producers to pay into a system that actively works against them.

For over six years, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) ignored the U.S. Agriculture Secretary’s direct warning about the need for checkoff integrity, which would require, for example, the independence of the Federation of State Beef Councils from the control of the NCBA. During that entire time, the Secretary waited while industry groups self- selected participants to work harmoniously with the NCBA to develop a plan for reforming the Beef Checkoff Program. No meaningful plan was ever developed.

Fred Stokes, spokesman for the Organization for Competitive Markets, said: “These checkoff programs were designed to help the U.S. farmer and rancher, but they have been hijacked by corporate interests. The half-billion dollars that these programs generate each year has been mostly diverted and used to the detriment of producers. These funds have mostly become the cash cow for organizations that work against fair competition and market transparency. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is a glaring example of such abuse. The NCBA derives more than eighty percent of its total revenue from the beef checkoff, while working against the interests of nearly all U.S. cattle producers. They opposed country of origin labeling, blocked efforts to renew market competition through enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, and used checkoff dollars to defend big packers’ anticompetitive ownership of livestock.

The millions of checkoff dollars NCBA receives is their life-blood. Successful passage of this proposed legislation is critically important to restoring fair markets and rebuilding our domestic family farm and ranch agriculture.”

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said: “Our joint letter provides clear evidence that independent cattle producers are tired of the conflicts of interest, misspending, and other abuses rampant in our beef checkoff program. We are now appealing to Congress to take action to stop these commodity programs from harming the very individuals who are forced to pay into the checkoff funds, such as the $1 per head cattle tax that U.S. cattle producers must pay each time they sell an animal.”

The joint letter highlights the major reform provisions of S. 3201, which would end the glaring abuses of the program boards.

The legislation would:

1. Stop federally mandated checkoff dollars from being transferred to parties that seek to influence government policies or action relating to agriculture issues.

2. Enforce the prohibition against conflicts of interest in contracting and all other decision- making operations of the checkoff program.

3. Stop federally mandated funds from being used for anti-competitive programs or from being spent to disparage another commodity in the marketplace.

4. Increase transparency of the individual boards’ actions by shedding light on how federal checkoff funds are spent and the purpose of their expenditures.

5. Require audits of each program every five years to ensure their activities are in compliance with the law.

Further, the joint letter requests Congress pass S. 3200, ensuring that in this complicated, multifaceted market, no farmer or rancher is forced to pay into a joint marketing and research program unless they see a benefit to their farm, ranch or business by doing so.

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