A farmer shares a lunch to feed visitors for 35 cents | New

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During the South Dakota State Fair, visitors can eat a $13 lunch for just 35 cents. It’s how the South Dakota Famers Union helps consumers understand how much money family farmers and ranchers make from the food they harvest.

“It’s our way of letting consumers know that while prices are up at grocery stores, profits for family farmers and ranchers in South Dakota aren’t.” The people who do the work to raise the food ingredients get a small percentage of the price we all pay at the grocery store,” said CEO Karla Hofhenke.

The annual Farmers Sharing Luncheon is held at 11:30 a.m. during Farmers Union Day at the State Fair on Saturday, September 3. The meal will be served in the Farmers Union tent across from the Freedom Stage at the South Dakota State Fair.

“This event draws attention to the fact that farmers and ranchers are not doing as well as they appear from grocery store prices,” said Union Center rancher Dallis Basel. “We look forward to this luncheon every year because we love sharing a meal and the story of our ranch with consumers.”

The fact is, even though they raise the food ingredients, family farmers and ranchers pay the same prices at the grocery store as families who don’t work in production agriculture. And like most American families, profits from farms and ranches don’t keep up with soaring household expenses like groceries.

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“We go shopping like everyone else,” said Basel, who raises sheep and cattle with his wife, Tammy. “Even though prices are up at the grocery store, we’re not making much more than break-even on cattle and right now sheep markets have bottomed out, so we’re pulling back when we’re selling lambs from market.”

A life member of the Farmers Union, Basel said he appreciates the efforts of the annual Farmers Share Lunch because feeding more than 1,000 Fair Trade visitors helps connect consumers to the truth.

“The big food processing conglomerates and packagers are making exorbitant profits — not the family farmers and ranchers,” explained Basel, who sits on the South Dakota Farmers’ Union board of directors.

All proceeds and donations raised from the Farmer Share luncheon will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota and Montana.

“Children are our future. Supporting children with serious illnesses and their families is another way to make an impact on Farmers Union Day at the State Fair,” Hofhenke said.

Striving to hold meatpackers and food processors accountable and transparent is at the heart of Farmers Union policy. The Farmers Union will host a panel discussion focused on strengthening South Dakota’s beef industry at 1 p.m. Sept. 3 on the Liberty Stage.

Panelists include Doug Sombke, president of the South Dakota Farmers Union; Megan R. Kingsbury, Kingsbury & Associates, founder of the proposed Rapid City packaging plant; Dale Bednarek, Farmers Industries Union; and James Halverson, executive director of South Dakota Stockgrowers.

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