Message from SD Democratic Chair Randy Seiler: 

Poor Trade Decisions and Lack of Support Calls for a New Normal for South Dakota Agriculture

Sioux Falls, SD (August 10, 2020) The farmers and agriculture industry are the backbone of our nation. Not only do they vitally support our economy, but the resources they provide help us fill our tables every meal. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives, farmers in South Dakota and all over the country are forced to adapt to a new normal. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only added to the large number of issues facing agriculture. Farmers battle flooding, dry seasons and other climate-inflicted problems often, but one of the biggest issues as of late has been our nation’s leadership. The international export markets have been decimated by ill-advised trade wars coupled with poor market conditions domestically.

I had a conversation with Kent Frerichs, from Wilmot, who is a farmer and served in the South Dakota legislature. In fact, his father, and son both served in the legislature as well. He helped me understand the status of our current trade market.

In the U.S. Constitution, Congress has authority when it comes to trade. But our president has made unauthorized decisions for us when it comes to trade deals. This overreach is the wrong way to make these important decisions. We believe a coalition needs to be formed to support and back up the trade deals. The president’s claims that revenues coming from China’s high priced tariffs are going to farmers and agriculture programs simply is not true. In fact, the tariffs are being paid by American consumers.

The Trump administration is giving billions of dollars in funding to ag operations to prop up his popularity. These one-time subsidies are not sustainable for the long term and are overwhelmingly favoring corporate interests, not the family farmer, or specialty ag. 

The trade war in China is affecting other essential areas of the ag industry. Farmers and ranchers have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in commodity checkoff programs, which promotes and provides research and information to farmers and producers. A large portion of this investment was directed toward developing important export markets for excess production of commodities. The efficient export markets that were created have been cut drastically due to the Trump tariffs, hurting U.S. farmers’ reputation as a supplier. Trade partners like China are taking their business elsewhere, such as Brazil. Years of export development that farmers and ranchers have developed for trade is now gone. 

Frerichs also believes there is room for smaller butcher shops and processing plants to help keep business in the state. Small shops, organic farms and processing plants will help keep the market where we as a state can utilize corn and other feed more regularly.

Young farmers are in a tough situation entering the field with so much discouragement. As a country, we need to develop more supplemental programs to support them. This includes partnering with local financial institutions to provide the stability for them to enter the farming profession. This should include interest rate reductions and tax incentives for farmers that want to retire and transfer ownership to the next generation.  

The South Dakota Democratic Party advocates for fair trade deals, the expansion of local food markets and regional ag-producing systems that focus on diverse and sustainable practices and programs that mentor and educate emerging producers. 

We need a new normal for agriculture in South Dakota, and the SD Democratic Party has a plan. Visit to read our 2020 platform, including our goals for Ag and Rural Life.

Please direct questions to SDDP Executive Director Pam Cole via email or phone (605) 695-1996.