Farmers Union District 7 Meeting 1 p.m. Today in Aberdeen

District 7 of the South Dakota Farmers Union will meet this afternoon at 1 p.m. here in Aberdeen, in the community meeting room in the Brown County Courthouse basement. The Farmers Union website lists this meeting as a quarterly meeting. Members of the Save Farmers Union Coalition, which has been winning support for resolutions calling for resignation of SDFU leadership and a new election at other district meetings, says the meeting is a “surprise,” with District 7 leadership notifying members of the meeting by postcard just last week Friday.

Districts 1, 2, and 3 have voted in support of the resignation and new election resolutions. According to opposition coalition spokesman Michael O’Connor, those three districts represent 60% of SDFU members. District 3 passed the resolutions Saturday at its Watertown meeting (Dana Ferguson reports the vote as 2 20–15; Michelle Rook says it was 20–14). Ironically, SDFU leadership is casting doubt on the validity of that vote for the same reason Save Farmers Union Coalition members are challenging last December’s statewide Farmers Union election:

Union spokeswoman Kecia Beranek said Monday that the union had not yet accepted the votes on the resolution as they hadn’t verified that all those who voted were members in good standing [Dana Ferguson, “SD Farmers Union Schism Widens After Watertown Vote,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.04.18].

District 7 is South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke’s home district. It is also the home district of Garret Bischoff, who challenged Sombke in December’s election and who is backing the drive for new elections.

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  1. Update: Meeting took an hour-plus, about 60 people present, non-members and press barred by District pres. Chad Johnson. Members voted overwhelmingly to reject (only 8 votes aye) the resolutions calling for resignations of President Doug Sombke, VP Wayne Sorne, and exec Karla Hofhenke. Members voted unanimously to continue support of Amendment T, the independent redistricting commission ballot measure.

  2. I have known Doug Sombke for two years. He seems like an honorable man. I joined the farmers Union after visiting with him.

  3. “seems” is the operative word there. If you have to stack the delegates to win an election, that is not honorable. Farmers Union is an honorable organization and I hope you continue your association with the organization. In my 40 years of working at SD Farmers Union they have never ever denied the press to cover the meeting. It used to be an open and honest organization, now there evidently is something to hide by denying access to the press. A TV station was also there and denied entrance.

  4. Information about the time and date of the District 7 meeting seems to have been suppressed, as it was not even posted on the SDFU website until the day before, ensuring that leadership-friendly voters could pack the house.

    Those in the districts that haven’t voted yet should find out when their meetings will be held. The SDFU that was known for integrity and helping the little guy is slipping away.