The region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives hosted a panel discussion this week at the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls aimed at examining the state’s agriculture economy and exploring possible relief efforts to help get the rural economy back on its feet. The panel discussion titled “Farming for the Future: A Look at South Dakota’s Ag Economy” featured South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson and was moderated by East River Electric Power Cooperative’s Communications and Marketing Manager Shayla Ebsen.
Food processing and issues with the food chain, as well as consolidation in the agricultural processing sector, were a few of the topics that the panelists discussed.
Along with Congressman Johnson, other panelists included American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings and South Dakota Corn Growers Association and South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Executive Director Lisa Richardson. Other topics discussed by the panelists included trade policies, relief options for the biofuels industry and ag sector stimulus packages.
The region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have been requesting relief for rural America throughout the pandemic. In May, East River Electric, along with 30 other electric cooperatives, signed on to a letter urging members of Congress to support additional stimulus package relief for food and ethanol processing plants, and the farmers and ranchers who serve them. The electric cooperatives represented on the letter combined serve over three million consumers across the region.
East River is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative and is the wholesale power provider to 24 distribution electric cooperatives and one municipal electric system in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.