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Beyond ag advocacy: Showing ag’s heart

Beyond ag advocacy: Showing ag’s heart
South Dakota Farmers Union helps a boy’s wish to visit Walt Disney World come true.

A tip of the hat to South Dakota Farmers Union, whose members recently donated $5,000 to Make-A-Wish South Dakota. They helped make an 11-year-old boy’s wish to go to Walt Disney World come true. The boy, from Lower Brule, S.D., has dilated cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening medical condition.

SDFU raised the $5,000 through donations given during the Farmers Share Luncheon held during the 2016 South Dakota State Fair, as well as additional donations from members.

WISH COMES TRUE: South Dakota Farmers Union helped a boy’s wish to be able to visit Disney World come true. SDFU donated $5,000 for the trip. (Photo by Garth Vaughan/Disney via Getty Images)

I wish more farm organizations would make these kinds of donations. Nearly everyone has gotten a lot better at telling consumers about how well their members care for the land and livestock, but I think some could do more to show that their members are good neighbors, without have to wrap it up in an ag advocacy message.

The news of SDFU’s Make-A-Wish donation is pretty powerful for public relations. SDFU did a good deed for a child without expecting anything in return. To me, at least, it says SDFU members care about others and are generous with their time and treasure. They are people I’d like to know; people I’d listen to, trust and maybe side with when there is a political or social issue that was important to them.

Other farm groups have been donating to charities. The South Dakota Farm Bureau and South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation give generously to Feeding South Dakota. North Dakota Soybean passes out stuffed animals (made from soy fiber) to children in hospitals in North Dakota. Agribusinesses all across the Dakotas give generously to Farm Rescue and a host of other community projects.

Many individual farmers and ranchers give generously, too. In my hometown of Baltic, S.D., one of our former neighbors — the late Bob Waagmeister — gave land to build a new school and football field on. There are many people in other communities who have made major gifts to their local hospitals, churches and civic groups, but you don’t hear about them. Gifts are often given anonymously, or else it just isn’t news outside of the local community. It’s too bad. Spreading the news of farmers’ and ranchers’ generosity would help counter the picture that the Environment Working Group, Heritage Foundation and others paint of farmers as greedy businessmen with their hand out for government subsidies.

There ought to be a day each year when we recognize all that farmers and ranchers do besides producing all the food and much of fiber and fuel we need to live our lives.

I would put SDFU members near the top of the list this year for recognition.

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