With mid-term elections just around the corner, it’s more important than ever before to participate in our national and state elections and make your voice heard. Giving South Dakota corn farmers’ voices power is exactly what the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) does in Pierre. SDCGA has a political action committee, CORNPAC, which also works to support candidates for state office right here in South Dakota who have agriculture’s interests in mind.
Making sound policy decisions, even on a state level, can advance South Dakota’s number one industry. Those decisions cover a multitude of topics, from value-added agriculture to biotechnology, crop insurance, transportation and so much more.
“CORNPAC’s ultimate goal is to keep the dream of family farming and being able to provide a safe and affordable food source to the world and supply livestock with affordable feed, all while leaving the land better than we found it,” says Scott Stahl, SDCGA Board secretary/treasurer from Emery, S.D. “CORNPAC allows us to pool resources and make sure we’re getting our story told and not being forgotten in rural South Dakota.”
The non-partisan CORNPAC only supports candidates for South Dakota state races, and actively looks to strengthen rural South Dakota and the issues that influence South Dakota corn farmers across the state.
The SDCGA has a strong presence in Pierre, and the SDCGA Board of Directors and our lobbyist have built effective working relationships with state legislators.
One example of a big win in the 2017-2018 legislative session was passing legislation to fund the Precision Agriculture Facility on the South Dakota State University (SDSU) campus in Brookings, S.D.
“We definitely sought out candidates who were in support of that effort,” Stahl adds. “We were looking for leaders and champions of that project who were supportive of enhancing that program that will have a huge impact on our agriculture industry right here at home.”
Another topic that’s always at the forefront is property taxes, Stahl notes.
“We want candidates who are mindful of the burden that property taxes can be on landowners and how those landowners pass those costs on to their tenants,” Stahl says. “In the last three to four years, we’ve seen farm income drop 30 to 40 percent, but property taxes haven’t gone down. Issues like property taxes can make it very hard for young producers, especially, to operate.”
Other key topics that CORNPAC supports include agriculture development, livestock development, ethanol, zoning, rail, infrastructure and more. Stahl says that as a grassroots organization, CORNPAC supports issues that are brought up by farmer members of SDCGA.
“We want to continue to strengthen South Dakota’s agriculture presence,” Stahl says. “As the number one industry in our state, we want to make sure that it’s a continued focus in Pierre.”
How to Get Involved
Stahl recognizes that although the agriculture economy is tough right now, it’s still important for the agriculture industry to maintain a constant presence in front of legislators—and to make sure that resources are available to fight for South Dakota corn farmers.
“It’s important to remember how much pressure that farmers are under,” Stahl says. “We fight through weather events, drought, hail, excess water, and on top of all that, there are a lot of groups out there that don’t appreciate what we do to grow a safe, affordable food supply.”
Stahl says that investing even a small amount can go a long way. If financial giving isn’t feasible, Stahl adds that conversation and ideas are helpful, too.
“We want to be able to discuss with corn farmers across the state what the challenges are and how we can lower those barriers for farming in South Dakota,” Stahl says.
*Contributions to political action committees are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Individuals and corporations may contribute up to $10,000 to a political action committee each year.