Perdue visits S.D., talks with few ranchers — Rather than a fair market, Perdue says ranchers should build a packing plant.

Perdue visits S.D., talks with few ranchers

Carrie Stadheim

October 27, 2017

Gary Peterson, John Heidler, Sharon Longwood, Peggy Veal, Ryan Veal, Lynn Briggs and several others traveled to Timber Lake, South Dakota, to meet with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue but the secretary did not take part in the scheduled meeting. Photo by Carrie Stadheim

Sonny Perdue, the United States Secretary of Agriculture visited South Dakota, Oct. 26. He first toured the Prairie Pothole Region with staff near Aberdeen.

Next he met with the intertribal ag council at the Timber Lake, S.D., Natural Resources Conservation Services office to discuss the methods that office uses to engage producers.

Deb Ducheneaux, director of the Farm Service Agency in that office, said Purdue met with several ag and conservation groups from on and off the reservation to learn how the Timber Lake office functions.

Several ranchers traveled to the meeting to visit with the secretary during a publicized 6:05 p.m. media availability event to question him about the recent GIPSA actions.

Perdue left the office before the media availability event was scheduled to begin, and most of the ranchers who had hoped to talk with him did not get the chance.

Meghan Rodgers, assistant to the secretary told Tri-State Livestock News the following day that the secretary left early because he had not received any RSVPs from the media for that event. Tri-State Livestock News did not receive an event invitation, but heard about the meeting via social media and was not aware of an RSVP opportunity.

John Heidler, and Gary Peterson, both from Mud Butte, and Les and Cindy Lensegrav, Meadow spoke with the secretary momentarily, asking why his office had recently decided not to implement the proposed GIPSA rules.

"He told us we should all get together and build a packing plant," Lensegrav said. "I told him that has been tried and has been unsuccessful. The big packing companies undercut the small plants."

Lindskov said he also asked the secretary why he didsn’t support country of origin labeling of beef and was again encouraged to build a packing plant.

Heidler said he went to the meeting in hopes of being able to share his thoughts about GIPSA and COOL. He had gone to a GIPSA hearing in Colorado several years ago and had appreciated the chance to share his thoughts about the industry, on the official record.