turner county, sd
More than a dozen South Dakota state legislators are trading their suits for cowboy boots and climbing into combines.
They're getting a first hand look at this year's harvest.
Representative Tom Jones (D) from Viborg is spending the day inside the cab of this combine as it harvests soybeans in Turner County.
"It's a big machine," Jones said. "It's amazing what it can do."
He's one of more than 18 state lawmakers learning the ropes of farming from experts. It's called Harvesting with Ag's Stars, a program based on the popular TV show, Dancing with the Stars.
"And so the goal of this program is not to take out on the dance floor to dance around, but to get them in a combine and have them experience first-hand what it's like, what our farmers are going through right now with the soybean and corn harvest," South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones said.
Bones says it gives urban lawmakers an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have, personalizing the agriculture industry. But most importantly it fosters the relationships lawmakers can consult in Pierre.
"If there is an ag issue that comes up in the session, we have an opportunity. They have a go-to person, wherever they may be paired up with, wherever it was in the state. They can call them up as a resource and say, hey, we have this issue, what do you think," Bones said.
And as he walks back, Representative Jones says he's most amazed by the modern technology inside the combine a vehicle he wouldn't have had a chance to ride in without the invitation.
"I have never been in a combine," Jones said. "I was talking to Secretary Bones about that. I’ve never been in one before. It's a good trip."
Secretary Bones says he is trying to get as many representatives in combines as he can this fall before the harvest season is over.