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Northwest Salmon




Day County farming family is featured on

roadway billboards across the state

Horters become face of ‘Hungry for Truth’ campaign

by Emre K. Erku

It’s not top 100, but one Day County local and his son are on the billboards.

To promote the Hungry for Truth initiative, a campaign which stems from the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, John Horter and his son Dane are pictured studying soy bean pods on large roadside billboards. One can be found in Aberdeen, another near Florence.

How Horter and Dane became poster children of this initiative is simple: As an acting member of the soybean council, Horter became one of six founding members of the Truth initiative, which, he said, aims to bring the subject of farming practices to the kitchen table, “Where a lot of conversations are had.”

By modeling, Horter’s amplifying the message.

“It’s pretty humbling to be the face of what’s going on,” said Horter. “It’s very rewarding to me. Farming’s been good to me and I want to give back – to tell people what we’re doing is good.”

While consumer awareness can be an all-year harvest, Horter, who oversees 10 times the acreage of his grandfather, says that it’s important to inform the public of how farming has changed over the years.

“When my grandpa farmed, he farmed on 600 acres,” Horter said. “He had a chicken barn, and they had milk cows. All their crops basically went to feed the chickens or the cows, and they kept the milk and the eggs, and of course they sold some of the eggs too. Generations before that were more reliant because they didn’t have Walmart. They had to make it work.”

Things are a little different now.

According to Horter, 60 to 65 percent of Mt. Rushmore State crops are exported. They’re shipped to places like Japan, China, and other parts of the Pacific Rim. Horter said most of his soybeans are rendered into feed and they sustain “chickens and poultry and hogs all around the world.”

Feed produced from locally cultivated fields even support foreign aquaculture, said Horter; meaning, “They’re gonna feed fish.”

In light of this global market comes farming techniques. This is where the initiative comes into play.

Although, said Horter, Truth doesn’t advocate for any specific farming technique, its meant to spark discussion on genetically modified organisms and the importance of farming.

It also includes conservation.

“Sustainability is a big buzz word,” Horter said. “For us, Dane is our sixth generation on our farm, and, to me, its being able to pass down what’s been passed down to me and to continue that.”

As a first-grade student at Langford School District, Dane Horter is already gaining an agricultural expertise. According to the Hungry for Truth website, Dane “rides along in the tractor during planting and in the combine during harvest. He’s even become a budding newscaster, giving crop reports from the field, sharing what he’s learned about the safety of GMO seeds, the latest farm technology and how to care for animals from his dad.”

Dane was asked about the importance of crop reports.

“To tell everybody who’s not on the farm what we’re basically doing,” he said.

Also on the Hungry for Truth website is a blog. There, anyone from the public can have open conversations about farming practices. Horter said that GMOs and pesticides are “our hot topics.”

He even personally participates in the blogs, he said.

“It’s really nice that once you explain to these people – most people – that this is why we do it and for what reason, they’re really open to that. You see that conversation starting and you gain that trust, and the next time they read an article they say, ‘Hey, maybe that ain’t all bad.’”

The billboards themselves aren’t the only time Horter has been in the spotlight.

During past lobbying trips to Washington D.C., Horter said he’s interviewed with various publications, including a piece with USA Today. He’s no stranger to the offices of U.S. legislators Sen. Mike Rounds, Rep. Kristi Noem and Sen. John Thune.

But Horter’s favorite part of being in the farming industry isn’t the trips to D.C. or being on the billboards. Rather, it’s something a lot more simple.

“Harvest,” he blurted. “You get to see everything you worked for all year. You get to see the results. They might be kind of disappointing depending on the weather or if you make a mistake. Winter’s coming and the weather’s not ideal, but you get to be outside all day and kind of reap what you sow.”

For more information on Hungry for Truth, visit their website at hungryfor

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