2019 South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit

July 15, 2019

A perfect storm of challenges gave this year’s gathering of ag professionals at the 2019 South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit the framework for meaty discussions and speaker topics.

Prevented plant acres, trade disputes, volatile markets and consumer influence drove conversations among hundreds of people from across South Dakota and the nation. Highlights included:

  • South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman opened the event and shared the stage with Master of Ceremonies, Maggie Stensaas, the strategic communications officer from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.
  • Governor Kristi Noem led a panel of Millenial and Gen Z farmers as they talked about their passion for keeping farming vibrant even in tough times. This new generation is a hopeful light for the future of agriculture in our state.
  • South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn shared his vision for our land grant university. By creating an environment where the right research flourishes and prepared graduates take on future challenges, agriculture will remain a driver in our state’s economy.
  • Roxi Beck from the Center for Food Integrity discussed a strategy for bridging the divide when advocating for modern farming practices and dealing with consumer fears. Empathy, active listening and shared values can build relationships creating the trust required to share the science of ag.
  • Sue Martin from Ag and Investment Services and Mike Pearson of Ag News Daily explained the current state of the marketplace in an entertaining and informative way.
  • Joe Fiala from the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development spoke on navigating the ins and outs of livestock development, an essential facet of the future of rural South Dakota.

A Washington, D.C. update was given by Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky, who fielded the most contentious questions regarding NASS reporting of planted acres from the attentive crowd. Welcome news included the opening of new beef market exports to Japan and progress in stopping the misuse of the small refinery exemption which harms corn growers.

One of the most surprising parts of the Summit was the tour of SAb Biotherapeutics near Canton, S.D. A cutting-edge facility for developing human antibodies, SAb hopes to transform the treatment and prevention of diseases and provide a value-add to agriculture in our state.

Finally, a big congratulations to the 2019 Governor’s Ag Ambassador, Paul Casper! Paul personifies the best of farming by stepping outside of his farming operation to lead the growth of value-added agriculture in South Dakota and other states.

After attending the Summit, the consensus from the attendees is one of grit and hope—the two traits that have and will always sustain agriculture.


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