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Cattlemen, SDCA Pres. Ollerich Apologize for Trumpist, Anti-Transgender Rant

On Wednesday I wrote about South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association president Steve Ollerich’s vulgar rant in the latest SDCA magazine. On Friday, the Cattlemen posted Ollerich’s apology online:

South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, apology from president Steve Ollerich, 2019.09.06
South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, apology from president Steve Ollerich, 2019.09.06

By now many of you have read my article in the SD Cattlemen magazine. I want to apologize to anyone whom I may have offended with my comments. It was my intention to use the divisiveness we are experiencing in our country to rally cattlemen together to be proactive in maintaining our market share in the beef industry. I now realize that I missed the mark and that it sounded like a political rant. Again, that was not my intention and I take full responsibility for any harm the article has caused. I also want to stress that those were my personal views and not the views of SDCA, nor does the article reflect the policies of SDCA. SDCA members have a bond as cattlemen regardless of political leanings; I shouldn’t have allowed my views to weaken that bond [Steve Ollerich, statement issued by South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, 2019.09.06].

There’s missing the mark, and then there’s playing with weapons that you shouldn’t have laid your hands on in the first place. I’m trying to figure out how anyone can intend to “use the divisiveness” that Ollerich discussed to “rally cattlemen” to “maintain[] our market share.” Dismissing Donald Trump’s faults as disrespectful attacks by the media, ranting about welfare and illegal immigration and people from the coasts, and then threatening transgender South Dakotans with physical violence don’t have any apparent relation to maintaining beef market share. In fact, even a modestly reasonable, deliberative writer, not to mention the editor of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s magazine, would have looked at the initial concept—”Let’s say a lot of divisive things that will alienate a broad swath of current and potential customers and see if that will improve our market share!”—and recognized that such a rhetorical approach was both destructive and illogical.

Elected officials, whether of organizations like SDCA or of public bodies, need to recognize the necessary separation between their personal prejudices and interests and the duties vested in them by the voice of their constituents. An office granted you by others is not your personal soapbox. As president of SDCA, writing in the SDCA magazine under your official SDCA title, you are unavoidably speaking for the SDCA. From that platform, you must issue your every word and action with extra care, deliberation, and empathy. If you forget that duty, then you should forget keeping your position.

The SDCA itself issued its own apology later Friday morning for the editorial and specifically for Ollerich’s joke about a transgender suicide (or was it murder? Ollerich thinks we’re supposed to laugh):

SDCA members,

The association would like to issue an apology for the editorial that was published in the September-October edition of the South Dakota Cattleman magazine. The views expressed in the article were personal views and not those of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. We also want to make note of the unfortunate joke and inform those reading that mental health is an issue that affects all Americans. We encourage anyone who feels that they are suffering from a mental health issues to utilize the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) as a resource for free and confidential support for people in distress.

The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s mission is to advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen by enhancing profitability through representation, promotion and information sharing. Regrettably, personal opinion has affected the outlook of the associations’ ability to represent and promote all cattlemen and women, regardless of personal views or political affiliation. SDCA members share a bond as cattlemen and stewards of the land; personal opinions should not interfere with that relationship [South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, Facebook post, 2019.09.06]

Meanwhile, SDCA is welcoming golfers from any coast to the Sanford International PGA Tournament, which is favoring SDCA with exclusive propaganda opportunities and the designation of BEEF as “The Official Protein of the Sanford International“:

SDCA, FB post, 2019.09.05
SDCA, FB post, 2019.09.05

Yet incredibly, despite SDCA’s support, the Sanford International is encouraging its participants to go shoot and eat pheasant! How dare they! Those golfers should go rope and butcher bulls together so they can enjoy some fresh South Dakota beef!

10 Comments

  1. jerry 2019-09-08

    Like the rest of sensible people, The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association shows it needs to get a new president. This feller is way to much like the bozo head we have in Washington. All of us need to have leaders that actually lead with understanding and caring regarding all. Maybe the one thing that this guy was just taught, was that he has a responsibility of office to uphold, and to keep your barroom banter to degrade, is a long way from that. We need more understanding to promote the beef business, not more divisiveness.

    A tip of the hat to the organization South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association though for owning the error and to make a formal apology. That shows me courage and understanding. It also shows me that they have an understanding of the business platform they represent. The future of beef is that it needs to work with all to promote itself. It needs to be a part of the culture that now has choices of lab grown that could only make real beef even more of a choice. Embrace differences to promote sales. You start by doing what you just did.

  2. cibvet 2019-09-08

    SDCA offered a real apology, Ollerich was all BS.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-08

    Ollerich acknowledges that his article caused offense and harm, and he says the things he said are his views and not those of the organization that elected him… but he does say that anything he said was wrong.

  4. Porter Lansing 2019-09-08

    A proper leader of the Cattlemen’s/Cattlewomen’s Association would be working to include lab grown scientists into the group. After all, the association is about promoting the meat, the culture of eating meat, and the enjoyment of eating meat not the animal on the hoof.

  5. Porter Lansing 2019-09-08

    I nominate my Loose Meat Chislic Burger w/ Caramelized Onions & Sweet Corn Salsa for the signature burger. It’s mighty tasteeee. 🍔🍔🍟

  6. o 2019-09-08

    Cattlemen’s Association still has two issues for me:
    1) They elected Ollerich into leadership – and as such he is still “them”; further to that point, his apology is on their letterhead.
    2). They published his positions – personal or otherwise. In fact, I’m not so sure there is such thing as “only personal opinions” when it comes to published editorials. The publisher bears some responsibility for what THEY publish.

    If I offered a well-considered piece on the toxicity (both environment and individual) of beef to SDCA Magazine, they would reject that offering because it is counter to their poison on that issue. They have no obligation to publish anything handed to them; they CHOOSE to publish what they wish. The responsibility is not all Ollerich’s to take.

  7. Debbo 2019-09-08

    I agree with cibvet about the apology. There was really only one, that from the association. Olerich’s was just an ash covering exercise. In it he clearly claimed the hateful rhetoric as his own, personal hate.

    Does the SDCA really want to keep such a creature as the face of their promotional organization? I think they’d be wise to fire him. You don’t sell a product by insulting and angering a large swath of potential customers.

  8. Dave 2019-09-09

    o makes a good point. Ollerich needs to step down. The Cattlemen’s Association needs to replace its magazine editor.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-09

    As O and Dave note, the editor of the magazine bears significant responsibility for this error. The president’s column doesn’t just leap onto the page all by its lonesome, complete with an s-bomb and two crude jokes. Someone in the SDCA office looked at that column and said, “Yup, that expresses our organization’s agenda well.” Big oops, and not one that can be piled entirely on Ollerich’s shoulders.

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