- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A faction within one of the largest agriculture organizations in South Dakota is working to oust three of its top officers and call a special convention to replace them.

A resolution circulating at Farmers Union district meetings challenges the results of the group’s recent election, saying there were voting irregularities, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1SG83tC ) reported.

Those challenging the election are supporters of Garret Bischoff, a Beadle County rancher, who failed to unseat longtime President Doug Sombke at the group’s biannual convention in December in Huron. Bischoff and other union members who attended the convention allege that some of the county delegates who voted were appointed within two weeks of the election and shouldn’t have been allowed to vote under the group’s bylaws.

“All of a sudden there are people who show up and don’t follow the bylaws of how to organize, and they were allowed to do that,” Bischoff said. “There are certainly some questions about how that took place.”

The resolution accuses Sombke of suppressing participation in the election. It calls for the resignation of Sombke, Vice President Wayne Soren and Secretary-Treasurer Karla Hofhenke.

The Farmers Union board of directors rejects the allegations and argues that the challenge group is small and “attempting to stunt the growth” of the organization.

“We followed all of our bylaws,” union spokeswoman Kecia Beranek said. “Our board and an outside lawyer looked at the result and said it’s solid.”

So far, the resolution has been approved by two of Farmers Union’s seven regional districts. A third regional district will consider it Saturday.

The state Farmers Union has been around for a century and claims more than 17,000 members.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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