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Economy Heavy on the Minds of South Dakota Farmers and Ranchers

February 18, 2009

Aberdeen, SD – There'll be plenty to talk about when farmers and ranchers come together this weekend in Aberdeen for the annual South Dakota Farmers Union Convention, and high on the list will be the soft economy and the effect it's having on rural South Dakota.

President Doug Sombke of the Farmers Union says 2008 was a topsy-turvy year for producers, who were swept along by a whirlwind of high fuel and fertilizer costs, alongside wildly-fluctuating commodity prices. He says all of that, combined with a very soft economy, is putting producers in a bind.

"This is a scary situation to be in right now on the producer side of things. We're looking at commodity prices that are on the slide or barely holding their own. We're not seeing a decline in input costs. Chemical costs are up. Seed costs are up. It's going to be serious; I mean, the margins are not going to be very big. This is a world issue."

Sombke says it's easy get into a doom-and-gloom mood these days, but he's optimistic that South Dakota will be a major player in some fields, especially in the growing wind energy industry.

"I think we have a lot of potential ahead, and I still think in this country, we have the wherewithal and gumption to move forward together and move our country into the next century of wind, the renewable fuel."

The 94th annual South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) state convention begins Friday in Aberdeen at the Ramkota Hotel Convention Center. This year's theme is the "Changing Winds of Agriculture."

For a full agenda of convention information, go to www.sdfu.org

David Law, Public News Service - SD