SD Stockgrowers attended the 2021 SD Governors Ag Summit in Sioux Falls July 8th and 9th. On Thursday SDSGA Executive Director James Halverson as well as other members participated in many tours including a local vegetable farm and an automated feedlot. Also on Thursday, the Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden addressed attendees. There were many opportunities to visit with the Lt. Governor, DANR Secretary Hunter Roberts, other cabinet officials as well as several legislators. “It was a great day.” Said Halverson “Anytime we can be with these decision-makers in an informal setting to chat about issues is a win for our membership. We did that today, and I feel like that makes a big difference when policy is being decided. I enjoyed being able to talk with the Lt. Governor and Sec. Roberts at length. I also had a great conversation with Rep. Ladner of District 30 who is very interested in helping us fight for a fairer state property tax assessment system. This is the epitome of grassroots change.” He added.
Friday’s session was opened with remarks from Governor Kristi Noem. The Governor also graciously agreed to meet with several industry groups after her address where solutions to the crisis in the cattle industry were discussed. During her address the Governor emphasized many points. She highlighted the $5 Million grant program for meat processing expansion in South Dakota. She also talked about her and the DANR’s efforts in starting a Cooperative Interstate Shipment program for state inspected meats that will allow certain facilities to be able to market their products across state lines. Another point she made was for producers and industry professionals to stay positive and happy during tough times.
Additionally on Friday, newly appointed Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux addressed the crowd and took questions. During his address Administrator Ducheneaux emphasized the FSA is working towards more flexibility within many programs. He specifically talked about haying and grazing CRP acres and said an announcement about that will be forthcoming. Administrator Ducheneaux, along with his brothers operate the family ranch in North Central South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. He spent the day with the conference participants, and many were able to converse with him about issues facing producers throughout South Dakota. “Again, we feel very fortunate to be able to talk at length with such high-ranking officials as the Governor and Administrator Ducheneaux.” Said Halverson “I emphasized to both the tough times SDSGA members are experiencing with unfair markets and bad drought conditions.”
The summit concluded Friday evening with a banquet where Jeff Lakner of Wessington, SD was named the 2021 Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award winner, joining a list of notable South Dakota Agriculturalists.