“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.” Winnie-the-Pooh

Twenty-five years ago, I got up early in the morning and flew from Pierre to Denver for a meeting. I then flew to Minneapolis for a meeting the next morning. When I got into Minneapolis, the airport terminals were reporting of the FBI raid of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco Texas. I got my rental car and proceeded to my hotel.

When I got to my hotel and checked-in, I was handed literally dozens of messages to call back to Pierre. As most of the messages were from my staff in GOED’s Division of Finance, I imagined one of our borrowers had a cataclysmic occurrence. My head raced with the possibilities of who it might be and problems like bankruptcy or a major accident.

I got to my room, turned on the TV which was more Waco so I put it on mute and sat at the desk to call back to Pierre. I couldn’t get through because the phone lines seemed busy which I thought odd everyone in Pierre would be that strung out over the Waco siege but whatever. So, I kept calling. When I got a phone to ring, nobody was answering, not even at my house.

Finally, I got through to Brenda O’Hara at home, wife to David O’Hara, Deputy Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. She just said “Have you heard?” and I responded something about Waco and I then she made a sound and lost it as she repeated over and over, “They are gone. They are all gone. The plane crashed.” At that moment, it never even occurred to me what plane it might be. Did I have my staff flying on one of the small state planes that day?

Then I heard through her cries, “The Governor, Rolly, they are all gone.”

Who was she talking about?

George S. Mickelson, 52 years old, husband to Linda and father to three children. He was serving as Governor.

Angus Anson, 38 years old, husband to Cindy and father to two children. He was serving as CEO of Northern States Power of South Dakota.

Ron Becker, 52 years old, husband to Shirley and father to two children. He was serving as State Head Pilot.

David Birkeland, 54 years old, husband to Mary and father to two children. He was serving as President of First Bank of South Dakota.

Roland Dolly, 37, husband to Lane. He was serving as Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Roger Hainje, 43, husband to Susan. He was serving as President of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and Forward Sioux Falls.

David Hanson, 45, husband to Diane and father to two children. He was serving as State Pilot.

Ron Reed, 52, husband to Barb and father to two children. He was serving as Commissioner of the Office of Energy Policy.

Since that fateful day 25 years ago, all but Rolly and Roger have become grandfathers many times over. I am sure their wives and children have lamented all they have missed. But the reality is they have missed nothing for they have witnessed it all and interceded on their behalf when necessary.

But, it is us who have missed them, more than we know. Every one of the men on that plane were people I considered my friend and some much more than just friend. As great as my sadness is for myself and the great loss of great leadership in our State, I know it pales in comparison to what these wives and children lost. My heart goes out to them and I hope they have a sense of the appreciation we have for their sacrifice.

* I am sorry that I didn’t know all the names of the children of the passengers so rather than listing those I knew and remembered, I listed none.

Krebs continues Trump support on Tariffs at debate in Sioux Falls

At a recent Congressional primary debate between Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Neal Tapio, Krebs apparently doubled down on her comments in support of the brewing trade war between President Trump and China, and that she “appreciate what President Trump is trying to do”

From TheSiouxEmpire.com:

Question: What do you think of the Trump Tariffs and the trade war (my term) with China.

Krebs: I appreciate what President Trump is trying to do.

Trump is trying to deal with China and open new markets.

China continually steals our intellectual properties and provides no recourse to fix it.

The story about seeing a truck with a fake version of the Triple M logo, instead says triple N.

She is the only one with an agricultural background and has spent time in China opening up markets for South Dakota agricultural products.


Tapio: $300 billion trade deficit in the United States. A $500 billion dollar trade imbalance.

Agrees that China steals our I.P.s

China is a currency manipulator plus we have with them a great product to product imbalance.

Trump is treating this issue correctly but taking it head-on.

It’s a terrible situation right now economically, but it has to be done.

Trump is doing Bi-lateral negotiation. And that is also partly why he is pushing renegotiation NAFTA and China.



I waited patiently and tried to get a better answer on the Trump Tariff issue; I just asked what she thought about tariffs in general?

Krebs gave me a real quick sound bite answer about supporting President Trump in his efforts, an obvious repeat talking point.

She came off to me from this sounding over-produced, and a tad slimy. Not willing to engage or answer questions with any honest thought. I know she isn’t trying to sound dishonest, just trying to keep to the safe script. So I recommend taking this how you may.

I should also point out that her speaking and presentation during the forum was excellent.

Read it all here.

The bonus part of the reporter’s story is also a bit attention grabbing in it’s stunning criticism of Krebs as “not willing to engage or answer questions with any honest thought.”   That’s not good.

Noem: Farm Bill Advances in U.S. House

Farm Bill Advances in U.S. House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today released the following statement after the House Agriculture Committee voted to advance the Farm Bill, setting the legislation up for a vote on the House floor:

“The Farm Bill is a necessary safety net, not only for our farmers and ranchers, but for our food supply,” said Noem. “With strong crop insurance and livestock disaster programs along with food stamp reforms, this legislation builds on the success of the historic tax cuts offered to farmers, ranchers, and consumers. I am proud of the months-long effort that has produced this legislation, and I look forward to helping usher this bill through the House in the weeks to come.”

Noem served on the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Committee, which acted as the bill’s final negotiating team. With fewer and fewer members representing rural districts, the legislation initially failed on the House floor. Noem, however, led efforts to resurrect the bill, taking on her own party to push the bill over the finish line.

The legislation:

  • Incorporates Noem’s reforms to strengthen commodity programs. During the 2014 Farm Bill implementation, USDA elected to prioritize county yield data from its National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which has proven unreliable in many cases. Today’s House proposal, using Noem’s language, would direct USDA to prioritize crop insurance data instead, which is a more dependable source.
  • Maintains a strong crop insurance program.
  • Increases CRP acreage to 29 million acres, while capping rental rates according to Noem proposal. Additionally, enrollment rates will be based on a state’s historical data, which Noem has previously pressured USDA to do.
  • Updates the wetland determination process so the USDA must prove the producer doesn’t qualify for an exemption before being ruled outside of conservation compliance, according to language Noem worked on.
  • Maintains meaningful Livestock Disaster Programs, which Noem fought to prioritize during the 2014 Farm Bill debate.
  • Maintains and strengthens dairy policy. The first 5 million pounds of milk production on a dairy farm is eligible for higher coverage levels at lower premiums.
  • Maintains the Beginning Farmer incentive program.
  • Enhances incentives for rural broadband development.
  • Simplifies the environmental review process requirements for forestry management, which Noem has strongly advocated for – particularly as it relates to fighting the pine beetle and other insect infestations in the Black Hills.
  • Establishes work and training requirements for SNAP benefits.Building on the economic successes of tax reform, the legislation would require that able-bodied, non-elderly individuals without young children work or participate in work training for 20 hours per week. No individual would lose benefits unless they decline to work or accept free training to learn a skill.

Thune Statement on House Farm Bill Advancing to House Floor

Thune Statement on House Farm Bill Advancing to House Floor

“Farmers throughout the country are counting on us to deliver on what has historically been a bipartisan farm bill, and I’m confident we’ll be able to accomplish our goal.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime Senate Agriculture Committee member who has been involved in writing three farm bills during his time in Congress, issued the following statement after the House Agriculture Committee voted to send its farm bill to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The Senate is expected to release its version in the next few weeks. The current farm bill expires on September 30, 2018. 

“Today’s vote is an important step in getting a farm bill on the president’s desk before the current bill expires,” said Thune. “Farmers throughout the country are counting on us to deliver on what has historically been a bipartisan farm bill, and I’m confident we’ll be able to accomplish our goal.

“For the last 13 months, I’ve been introducing numerous farm bill-related proposals that I hope are included in the Senate bill when it’s introduced in the near future. I’m glad the House has incorporated several of my proposals, including boosting the acreage cap for the Conservation Reserve Program and making it more of a working lands program. We’ve got more work ahead of us, and I’m eager to continue moving the ball down the field.”

The House farm bill increases the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage cap to 29 million acres, which is just 1 million acres shy of Thune’s proposal in his Conservation Program Improvement Act (S. 909). By increasing haying and grazing opportunities, the House farm bill would help make CRP more of a working lands program, a proposal that is also included in S. 909.

For crop acreage base acres that haven’t been planted to commodity crops for several years, the bill would convert them to unassigned base acres and make them ineligible for commodity payments, which is included in Thune’s Commodity Program Improvement Act (S. 1259).

Finally, the bill expands categorical exclusions, which would increase forest management and treatment landscapes, a proposal that is consistent with Thune’s Forest Management Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 1731).

To learn more about Thune’s 2018 farm bill proposals, please visit the farm bill section on www.thune.senate.gov.


KCCR Radio: Krebs Says Chinese Pork Tariffs Could Lead To Expanding Ag Markets

Well, here’s an outlier of a statement. Shantel Krebs is on KCCR Radio today claiming that Chinese Tariffs on pork could lead to expanding Ag Markets. Seriously. That’s the headline:

Krebs Says Chinese Pork Tariffs Could Lead To Expanding Ag Markets

Pork producers have been hit with a twenty-five percent import tariff by China, and soybean producers could soon be in the same spot.


South Dakota Republican Congressional Candidate Shantel Krebs says the process could lead to expanded ag markets…

“I can understand President Trump trying to get a better deal for Americans and of course for our farmers and ranchers. You know, right now, we’re getting ready to go in the fields, we might be facing a drought although it doesn’t feel like it right now, commodities prices are low, so I think the farmers and ranchers have every right to be concerned – so am I. But what I am hopeful for is that president Trump is going to be expanding our market options meaning opening up new markets for our exports.”

Read and listen to it here.

What? “…the process could lead to expanded ag markets…?” The farm economy is in danger of being hit hard this year, but a trade war could make it all better?    Um…. ok?

Or not ok, according to those who don’t share Krebs’ enthusiasm with a trade war leading to the land of milk and honey for the Ag economy, and are more concerned with it’s potential effect on Agriculture now. Such as US Senator John Thune:

The move was met with near-universal surprise from GOP lawmakers who were taken aback by the suddenness of the White House’s decision. Most GOP senators view the move as a tax hike on American families and expect it to specifically harm agriculture.

“It kind of came as a surprise to most of us,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the third-ranking Senate Republican. “There is no standard operating practice with this administration. Every day is a new adventure for us.”

“There’s always retaliation, and typically a lot of these countries single out agriculture when they do that,” Thune said. “We’re very concerned.”

Read that here.

And US Senator Mike Rounds:

Sen. Mike Rounds (R) issued a statement Thursday, stating that while he supports President Trump’s efforts to negotiate better trade deals, he is concerned about retaliation from other countries.

On Wednesday, China announced a proposal to add a 25 percent tariff on several U.S. goods, including soybeans and corn. China is one of the primary markets for many of these goods, particularly soybeans.


““I understand there is some time before these tariffs are imposed to allow for negotiations; however China’s tariff proposal is already having a real market effect,” Rounds said, via a press release.

Read that here.

Or Congresswoman Kristi Noem:

In a letter to President Trump Friday, Rep. Kristi Noem led 46 members of the U.S. House in outlining key priorities for agriculture when it comes to trade with China.

“We must continue to build on the success that’s come from historic tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks under the Trump administration,” said Noem. “China’s irresponsible countermeasures threaten to undermine our achievements for South Dakota agriculture. I stand firmly with President Trump in his effort to hold China accountable for its dishonest trade practices, but I urge the administration to do so in a way that avoids harmful Chinese countermeasures against American agriculture. This will help us put agriculture back on the road to prosperity.”

The letter comes after China announced significantly higher tariffs, impacting all five of South Dakota’s top five agriculture products: beef, corn, soybeans, wheat, and hogs. The nation’s eleventh largest ag exporting state, South Dakota exported $3.7 billion in agricultural goods in 2015.

Read that here.

Or Governor Daugaard:

Tony Venhuizen, Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff, confirmed the governor has been talking to the Trump administration about the risks of a trade war for months.

“The governor is very concerned that South Dakota’s ag sector could suffer from more protectionist trade policies,” Venhuizen said in an email.

Read it all here.

I’m thinking that statement is going to come back to haunt her at some point.

Update – Americans for Prosperity aren’t thrilled about the Trade war either:

If a trade war breaks out with China, South Dakota would find itself on the front lines of what could become a costly conflict with one of our country’s biggest trading partners.

Thankfully, it’s all bluster for now. But as Sen. Mike Rounds reminded us in a recent nationally televised interview, the mere talk of retaliatory tariffs on soybeans is hitting close to home. As our state’s second largest crop, South Dakota farmers are watching with trepidation as the price fluctuates with every rhetorical barb.

Read that here.

Release: Campbell County State’s Attorney Mark Kroontje Endorses John Fitzgerald for South Dakota Attorney General.


Campbell County State’s Attorney Mark Kroontje Endorses John Fitzgerald for South Dakota Attorney General.

Herreid, South Dakota: Campbell County State’s Attorney Mark Kroontje announced his support for Lawrence County State’s Attorney John Fitzgerald for South Dakota Attorney General.

I have known John Fitzgerald for almost as long as I have been a prosecuting attorney and that is 30 years. His extensive and direct involvement in the handling of criminal cases as State’s Attorney in Lawrence County has given him the experience which makes him the most qualified candidate for South Dakota’s next Attorney General.


“It’s so much more friendly with two.” ― Winnie-the-Pooh

What gave me some of the best experiences as Senator Abdnor’s driver was the unexpected. One day after classes and getting back to Capitol Hill, I was informed tonight’s itinerary was the Senator was having dinner at Vice President Bush’s House with other Republican Senators. The issue or agenda I don’t recall if I ever knew it.

On the way, the Senator asked if I had eaten anything and I told him no thinking he’d either bring me a box of the dinner or have one ran out to me. Jim Abdnor didn’t like being hungry so he always made sure those around him were well-fed.

When we got to the Naval Observatory, Senator Abdnor told me to come along and not sit in the car. Not knowing what to expect I did as I was told but was sheepish as I walked by the other Senator’s cars as their drivers sat in their car. Drivers just don’t go to meetings with other Senators and certainly not with the Vice President.

When we got in the door, Senator Abdnor grabbed one of the waiters and told him I needed something to eat. This guy was good as he knew I wasn’t supposed to go into the dining room with the others yet not wanting to offend an obvious VIP (Senator Abdnor) so I was escorted into what I assume was the family eating area, a small functional kitchen with a kitchen table and four chairs. The waiter asked me to sit down, left the room and soon came with a salad.

Shortly after I received the main meal, a “side door” which I presume went into the family living quarters opened and in entered the Vice President’s wife, Barbara Bush. As surprised as I was to see her, she was even more surprised to see me as she was dressed not quite in lounge wear but certainly not what a person of her background would wear to meet a stranger or entertain guests.

After finding out who I was and how I got there, she said she was getting a snack, poured herself a glass of milk and got a couple of cookies from the pantry and proceeded to sit down with me. What struck me about the entire exchange is she not once made me feel uncomfortable for being there, made it seem natural she’d eat her snack with me, and, most importantly, she acted like my grandmother would have treated a stranger in her kitchen, with kindness and hospitality. Two other times I saw her up close. While we didn’t ever talk again, she acknowledged me both times with a big smile and a wink.

There has been much said about Mrs. Bush’s steely resolve and capacity to chop off heads of anyone threatening her family, her humor, and her public interest in literacy. What I hoped to confirm what I think we all suspected- she was also a kind and gentle grandmother.

May the soul of Barbara Bush, by the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.

What’s that smell, Jo? It might be your claim of being a biotech company.

I caught this commercial last night, and I can’t help but call a little bit of BS on a claim that Liberal Democrat candidate for Sioux Falls Mayor Jolene Loetscher makes. Or maybe, it’s more appropriately termed “DS.”

At about 10 seconds in, Loetscher makes the bold claim that she’s “created two successful companies in biotechnology, and communications.” Wait a second… Biotechnology?

Yes, she and her spouse have a marketing firm. But as far as biotechnology goes.. I have to question the claim. Because it doesn’t really seem …accurate.

According to the website for Loetscher’s dog poop cleaning service, her business can provide genetic testing of dog poop to see if someone is letting their dog poop in places, and not picking it up. But according to her own website, they don’t do any actual genetic testing. They send it to a company called pooprints..

….who her company acts as a franchisee for:

Here’s the note on the PooPrints website noting they’re a franchisee:

The PooPrints people actually seem to be the ones who are an actual biotechnology company

Whereas Jolene Loetscher’s company…. well, it looks like they pick up doggy doo, and distribute test kits which get sent into a lab for testing and matching.   It would be like the geneology testing for ancestry.com claiming they’re a biotechnology company. Which is not a claim you hear them making.

They are a distributor of tests that get sent into a biotechnology company and are provided the results.

The only difference is ancestry.com isn’t running for mayor and trying to inflate their resume.

So is Loetscher a businesswoman? Sure. Franchisee? Absolutely.

But running a biotechnology company? I’m going to call that claim a bit of puffery.

Or “puppery,” if you will.