DeMers girls are jr beef ambassadors

PIERRE, SD- The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) unveils the new Junior Beef Ambassador program for the summer, giving area youth the opportunity to share their beef story.

The program is an opportunity for youth ages 5 to 18 to help them share their beef story. The SDBIC is proud to announce that 19 Jr. Beef Ambassadors will be joining us throughout the 2020 summer, sharing photos and videos.

These young beef leaders’ stories will highlight their own ranch and what they do day in and day out. “Our youth continue to be our future and we have to prepare them and encourage them to be proud of their heritage and willing to promote the beef product,” states SDBIC Executive Director, Suzy Geppert.

The 2020 Jr. Beef Ambassadors are: Charles Barber, Jayne Blume, Lena DeMers, Maggie DeMers, Bentlee Holt, Cashley King, Koyle King, Rylee K., Brooklyn Marshall, Natalie Marshall, Baylor Pazour, Jennings Pazour, Ladd Pazour, Scarlett Radke, Fidelia Rasmussen, Kaycee Scheel, Ella Stiefvater, Kingston Wulf, and Madilyn Wulf.

These beef ambassadors come to the SDBIC program from across the state.

Follow along all summer as we highlight and recognize these young leaders and share their great beef stories!

Called to Serve

Rep. Dusty Johnson

Many may not know that Members of Congress are able to nominate students to our nation’s military academies. It’s a real opportunity to ensure South Dakota values help shape military decisions – and it’s also a real opportunity to make sure the military looks like the American people it’s responsible to defend.

Saying it is an honor to nominate students from across our great state to serve our nation doesn’t do the moment justice. These are not ordinary high school graduates. Some grew up knowing they were interested in attending an academy, some grew up in a family with a long line of military service and some have no family military history at all. But what they do have in common is a good moral character, their commitment to our nation’s defense and selfless bravery and courage. They all feel called to serve their country.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to organize a virtual academy reception for some of the students my office nominated. June is quite a transition month for these soon-to-be Cadets and Midshipmen. These students will head to their respective academies in late June and early July – surrendering civilian clothing and belongings (even their cell phones!) – and begin their military training. You can imagine this is also a transition month for their parents as well – who may only speak with their son or daughter three times throughout the summer. Very different than a traditional college drop-off.

It’s hard from Day One for a reason. It’s hard because these Cadets and Midshipmen will commission as military officers at graduation. It’s hard because when called to lead soldiers, airmen, sailors, or Marines, these young Americans will rely on the skills and training gained from experience at the academies. It’s hard because the United States is home to the mightiest military in the world, due in no small part to the dedicated young men and women who serve.

While we wish the 2024 service academy class godspeed, we also look ahead to the next round of nominations. Our office is currently accepting applications for nominations to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy until Friday, October 30. Visit my website or call one of my offices if you are interested in learning more about the nomination process.

I look at my three sons and I don’t know what the future has in store for them. I don’t know if they’ll choose to serve in the military like their grandfather, if they’ll choose a liberal arts degree, or if they’ll choose to pursue a technical trade. What I do know is my conversations with these academy candidates has helped shape who I want to be as a parent and what values I want to instill in my children as they grow older.

Focusing on the Wins

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

The world has had a rough few months. It’s easy to harp on the negatives, especially as infections and job losses continue to rise. Our country still needs to make substantial improvements in our response to this crisis, but we also should take time to focus on the positives — what we’ve gotten right.

First, I need to begin by saying thanks to South Dakotans. It didn’t take a forced stay at home order, you all took personal responsibility, stayed home, and flattened our curve.

You’ve heard the phrase “South Dakota commonsense” a lot lately, but it rings true.

We have to remember; we are doing what we’ve never done before. In the last seven days, testing in the United States has increased by 28%. Moderna Therapeutics Clinical Trial announced this week that a vaccine candidate showed participants in the trial received antibodies to COVID-19. Moderna will begin Phase 3 of this trial in July for a potential vaccine. That’s the hope and the news we need.

More than 11.5 million tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the United States. Just yesterday, more than 400,000 tests were performed. This week, we saw the most tests ever reported in a single day – our response hasn’t been perfect, but we are making big progress.

As of May 15th, the federal government has coordinated the delivery of 83.3 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 10.6 million face shields, 23.1 million surgical gowns, and 989 million gloves.

More than 20,000 South Dakota businesses utilized the Paycheck Protection Program – keeping thousands on payroll. States throughout the country are beginning to enter opening phases.

This is welcome news. I don’t want to sound tone deaf though, I know thousands of South Dakotans have lost jobs and are struggling to make ends meet, but there’s hope on the horizon.

Like I said, our efforts as a nation and as a government haven’t been perfect. But as we strive daily to improve our response, we should occasionally recognize the progress we’ve made so far.

The efforts of so many researchers, health care workers, public health experts, and frontline employees have made a real difference in the lives of millions.

Bad Reputation

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

People like to compare the U.S. and China, so much so I think many people have forgotten a key point – our values are not the same, not even close. Large economies, yes, but China is a communist, authoritarian nation with a state-run media and a government obsessed with surveillance and control.

China’s handling of this worldwide pandemic has brought these differences to the forefront once again. For weeks, China covered up the COVID-19 outbreak and continued to allow travel from Wuhan to other parts of the world. China kicked out foreign journalists and they hid valuable information from the rest of the world. These actions will be a blood-red stain on China’s reputation for generations to come.

For years, the United States and China have developed an increasingly interdependent economic relationship, and it’s put us in a position where we excuse and accept their behavior out of convenience. It’s time for change.

Republicans in the House have established a task force aimed at combating threats posed by China. This is a good starting point, but now – more than ever – we need actions, not political theater or words without consequences.

While we still need a comprehensive investigation on the spread of the coronavirus from China, as leaders, we must be forward thinking. How does the U.S. ensure we are never in the same position again? How does the U.S. better prepare for future pandemics? How does the U.S. stockpile and develop an industrial base for supplies moving forward?

The U.S. is in an unstable relationship with China – every time they tell us they will change their ways, we see the same irresponsible behavior. This pandemic has exposed flaws in our supply chain, both domestic and abroad. More than 72% of active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured abroad.

Government should stay out of the business of private enterprise. At the same time, our nation’s leaders have an obligation to protect the American people. These values are in tension with each other. With that said, I find it unwise to watch a majority of our pharmaceuticals, processing plants and personal protective equipment become increasingly dependent on a good-standing relationship with China.

America needs to do better. We need to rely on companies here at home, like 3M, to produce our PPE stockpile. We need to ensure bad actors aren’t investing in our food supply chain. That’s why I signed onto the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act to allow USDA to analyze any foreign investment into our nation’s food supply. COVID-19 has reminded America that our food security and our ability to quickly produce supplies are vital.

Most of all, we need to hold China accountable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to make sure this accountability happens.

Outside In move forward!

Taryn Pike, Rapid City, formerly of Winner, was one of three finalist chosen in the female founder’s veteran small business award grant program.
Pike is the daughter of Phil and Cyndy DeMers of Winner.
Pike along with her sister Kelsey Baird own a Rapid City business known as Outside In, which is a children’s indoor playground.
Since Pike is a veteran she qualified for this special award.
Pike served 10 years in the National Guard which qualified her to apply for this special grant. The public was allowed to vote for the persons they felt should be awarded the grant.
Pike, as one of the top three finalists, will have the opportunity to pitch her business at the StreetShares foundation pitch competition event.
Due to COVID-19 plans are underway to have a virtual Virginia Women Veterans Summit which will be held on line. This is where Pike will give her pitch to win the grand prize

Secretary Vanneman Announces Retirement

Secretary Kim Vanneman, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, publicly announced her retirement on May 5. Her last day as Secretary of Agriculture will be May 8.

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden will step in as Interim Secretary of Agriculture.

“Kim and I have worked together on agriculture policy for almost twenty years, and she is a dear friend to me and to South Dakota agriculture,” said Governor Noem. “Her service has been invaluable for today’s farmers and ranchers, the next generation to follow them, and the state of South Dakota as a whole. While her title will change, she will continue to be a valuable advisor and advocate to me on behalf of South Dakota farmers and ranchers.”

Prior to her time as Secretary of Agriculture, Vanneman of Ideal, served as a director for Farm Credit Services of America, Farm Credit Council, Farm Credit Foundations, and FCC Services. She was a member of the State House of Representatives from 2007-2013, serving on the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee all six years.

“I want to thank Governor Noem for the opportunity to serve as South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture. It has been an honor to work with the producers and agricultural organizations promoting, protecting, and preserving South Dakota agriculture,” said Secretary Vanneman.

“The remote work model the past several weeks has made me aware of what I am missing out on with my family and operating our family farm. It’s spring—a time of new beginnings. It is time for me to spend more time home with family and focus on our 111 year old family farm.”

Vanneman and her husband, Clint, own and operate Vanneman Farms north of Winner. Their diversified operation includes row crops, small grains, feeder pigs, a commercial beef cow herd, and a feedlot.

Kim and Clint have three children and four grandchildren.

“I also want to thank Kim for her years of service fighting for South Dakota agriculture,” said Lieutenant Governor Rhoden.

“I realize these are big shoes to fill, but given that my life’s work has been in agriculture, I appreciate the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our state’s number one industry.

My immediate focus will be on helping our state’s agriculture industry turn the corner following this pandemic, especially the meat producers who have become all too familiar with supply chain bottlenecks.”

“Lieutenant Governor Rhoden has been instrumental in helping South Dakota’s producers handle the fallout from the Smithfield situation,” said Governor Noem. “He’s well-prepared to step into this role. I know he’ll serve as the strong leader our agriculture industry needs right now.”

Governor Noem Announces ‘Back to Normal’ Plan

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem announced her plan to help South Dakotans get “Back to Normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic on April 28.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed the path so many South Dakotans were on. Some of us lost friends and loved-ones,” Noem said. “This disease also stole our most precious commodity—time.

In addition to the health costs, the social costs of this virus are historic in the worst way. I have let science, facts, and data drive our decision-making, and we will continue to do so.

“South Dakotans have taken personal responsibility for their health and safety seriously.

They have done a tremendous job practicing good public hygiene and social distancing. Together, we’ve cut our projected peak infection rate by more than 75 percent.

South Dakotans have lived up to our state’s motto: ‘Under God, the people rule.’
“The plan I am unveiling continues to put the power of decision-making into the hands of the people – where it belongs.

Today’s plan relies on South Dakotan’s continuing to exercise common sense, reasonableness, innovation, and a commitment to themselves, their families, and – in turn – their communities.”

For the rest of the story, pick up this week’s edition of the Winner Advocate or subscribe to the Winner Advocate call (605)842-1481!

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week and announcing Regional Teachers of the Year

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Kristi Noem has proclaimed May 4-8 Teacher Appreciation Week in South Dakota.

“While schools and communities won’t be able to hold face-to-face Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations this year, I hope they find some unique ways to thank teachers for all they do,” said Secretary of Education Ben Jones.

“I continue to be amazed at everything our state’s teachers are doing to ensure that South Dakota students keep learning, even during these extended school closures.”

The Department of Education will be using the hashtag #ThankATeacher on social media throughout the week.

Members of the public are invited to share a message of thanks for the teachers impacting students across the state and country.

As part of this special week, the South Dakota Department of Education is pleased to announce the following individuals as South Dakota’s Regional Teachers of the Year:

Region #1: Lisa Weier, Project Lead the Way, George S. Mickelson Middle School (Brookings)
Region #2: Marissa Whipple, second grade, Baltic Elementary
Region #3: Amanda Hargreaves, sixth grade, Mitchell Middle School
Region #4: Spencer Cody, science, Edmunds Central Middle and High School
Region #5: Luke Erfman, computer/STEAM, rural schools, Meade School District

A statewide panel of educators will select one of these regional finalists to represent the state as the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

The 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year will be announced sometime this fall. That individual will be South Dakota’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching.

The 2021 National Teacher of the Year will be announced during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in spring 2021.

Business is up for a grant

Submitted photo
Taryn Pike, formerly of Winner, is pictured with her two sons Wylie and Weston. She is the daughter of Phil and Cyndy DeMers of Winner. Her business has the opportunity to receive a $15,000 loan from a program that helps veterans.

A Rapid City business with Winner connections has a chance to receive a $15,000 grant from a program that helps veteran-owned businesses.

Outside In, a children’s indoor playground, is owned by Taryn Pike and Kelsey Baird, both daughters of Phil and Cyndy DeMers of Winner. They have owned the business since 2018.

Since Pike is a veteran she qualified for this special loan from Street Shares Foundation, a nonprofit organization that exists to inspire, educate and support military entrepreneurial community.

Persons in the Winner community can help Pike by voting. They can go the website at:

The deadline for voting is May 3.

For the rest of the story pick up a copy of the Winner Advocate or subscribe by calling (605) 842-1481!

More Relief on its way

By U.S. Sen Mike Rounds (R-SD)

We’re now in the end of April and COVID-19 is continuing to impact our daily lives. Around two thousand cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in South Dakota, and social distancing continues throughout the state.

While we hope the end of this period of uncertainty is coming soon, Congress continues to pass legislation to address the crisis and provide much-needed relief.

Recently, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law a $480 billion dollar package that provides more funding for hospitals, nationwide testing, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so more small businesses can now participate.

The PPP is a loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for businesses with 500 employees or fewer, as well as self-employed individuals. As of Friday, April 24, casinos with 500 or fewer employees are now eligible for PPP loans.

I’ve been urging the SBA to make sure tribally-owned casinos and gaming operations in Deadwood are able to receive financial assistance during these times, so I’m glad the administration has now modified their rules.

The PPP provides up to $10 million in loans to businesses to help cover payroll costs for employees, as well as pay for rent, interest on mortgages and utilities. Businesses who use PPP loans to keep employees on the payroll can have most of the loan forgiven.

The PPP was originally allocated $350 billion in the CARES Act, but that money ran out in less than two weeks. This is a sign that the program is working, and businesses are able to keep their staff on the payroll for the time being.

However, because of the high demand for the program, our recent legislation provided an additional $320 billion for the PPP so even more businesses can receive these partially-forgivable loans. The Small Business Administration estimates that more than 80 percent of our small businesses in South Dakota have utilized the PPP so far.

If you’re interested in participating in the program, your local lender will be able to assist you in applying for a loan.

The bill we passed also clarifies that agricultural enterprises are eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), a program that got a funding boost in our legislation.

These loans will provide up to $10,000 of economic grants to businesses hurting because of COVID-19. Our ag community has been struggling for years due to low commodity prices, ongoing trade negotiations and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is finalizing a proposal to provide a relief package to farmers and ranchers whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. As a vital component of our nation’s food supply chain, we must do everything we can to make sure they can continue to put food on the tables of America’s families.

The proposal isn’t final yet and needs to go through the official approval process in the federal government, but USDA’s goal is to begin taking applications in May and for farmers and ranchers to begin receiving their relief packages in June.

What we’ve learned about the proposal so far is that USDA will issue a single payment determined using two calculations: for price losses that occurred between January 1 and April 15, 2020, producers will be compensated for 85 percent of the price lost during that period.

The second part of the payment will help to cover 30 percent of expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters. USDA’s proposal sets the payment limit at $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity.

We will continue reviewing the proposal to assess its impact on South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. We’d also welcome input from the ag community in our state so we can share it with USDA.

We know businesses and families are struggling right now, and we hope that we’ll be able to safely reopen the country in the near future. In the meantime, we’re working to provide aid for those who need it during this crisis. Stay safe, and don’t hesitate to contact my office if there’s anything we can do to help.