South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit 2024: A Focus on Agriculture’s Vital Role

The South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit was held on June 12 and 13 at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron, South Dakota. This event brought together industry and business leaders from across the state to discuss important issues affecting agriculture, South Dakota’s leading industry.

Governor Noem’s Address

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem spoke passionately at the Summit, emphasizing the state’s strong agricultural heritage. She highlighted the significance of agriculture in South Dakota:

  • Family-Owned Farms: About 95% of South Dakota farms are family-owned and operated, a point of pride for the state.
  • Economic Contribution: Agriculture contributes over $32 billion to the state’s economy, making up 30% of the economic output.
  • Global Impact: Noem underscored the importance of agricultural policy in ensuring food security and supporting farmers and ranchers.

“We do agriculture better than anybody else in the world, and we do it better in South Dakota than anybody else in the country,” Noem said. “When ag prospers, all of South Dakota prospers.”

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Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award

Governor Noem presented the 2024 Governor’s Ag Ambassador award to Jerry Oster, a longtime WNAX radio newsman from Yankton, South Dakota. This award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the agricultural community.

Avian Influenza Update

Beth Thompson, South Dakota’s state veterinarian and executive secretary of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, provided an update on avian influenza. She reported that while highly pathogenic avian influenza had not affected poultry recently, there have been cases in the dairy industry. Thompson stressed the importance of biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Biosecurity is important because you want to keep whatever disease you may have on your site, on your site, and not share it with your neighbors,” Thompson said. “But you also want to keep anything off your site, too.”

Foreign Agricultural Trade

A panel discussion on foreign agricultural trade was led by Luke Lindberg, president and CEO of South Dakota Trade. The panel included:

  • Jerry Schmitz: Executive Director of South Dakota Soybean
  • Dennis Harstad: General Manager of Houdek
  • Cesar Garcia Arevalo: Export Sales and Marketing Manager for Advanced Sunflower
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Lindberg highlighted South Dakota’s strong position in agricultural exports, noting that the state exports about $5 billion worth of agricultural products annually, making it the second-highest per capita ag exporter in the nation.

Commodity Prices Outlook

Market economist Elaine Kub discussed the outlook for commodity prices in 2024 and 2025. While the market outlook appears less favorable than in previous years, Kub suggested strategies for producers to navigate this period, such as managing production costs and being strategic about marketing their products.

Optimism for the Future

Despite the challenges, Hunter Roberts, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, remains optimistic about the future of agriculture in South Dakota.

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“We have plenty of challenges like every state, every industry, but agriculture itself is in a great spot,” Roberts said. “I think things are looking up.”

Day Two Highlights

The second day of the Summit included:

  • Historical Presentations: Discussions on the history of the South Dakota State Fair.
  • Tours: Visits to the Spink Hutterite colony and Kasemeister Creamery.
  • Entertainment: A concert by country music artist Thomas Rhett at the DEX building on the fairgrounds.


The 2024 South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit highlighted the vital role of agriculture in the state and provided valuable insights into current challenges and future opportunities. With strong leadership and a focus on innovation and biosecurity, South Dakota’s agricultural industry continues to thrive, ensuring prosperity for the state and contributing to global food security.


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