South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture in Wessington
by LD Eichstadt
The Wessington Economic Development Corporation held its annual meeting on March 15, at the Sunshine Activity Center. Guest speaker was Mike Jaspers, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture. A native of northeast South Dakota, Jaspers operates a diversified crop and livestock farm in McCook, Hutchinson and Marshall counties. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanized Agriculture from South Dakota State University in 1993. In addition to operating his farm and holding management positions in several agricultural businesses, Jaspers served in the South Dakota State Legislature from 1997-2005. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed him state director of USDA-Rural Development, where he served until June 2008. He grew up on a farm near Roslyn, SD, and is a relative of WEDC board member, Mary Spicer. Jaspers has been farming since he was a teenager; a fifth generation farmer. He was involved in FFA during high school and served as state president. Jaspers and his wife, Robin, have two children.
Jaspers spoke about ag development, the State Fair, and the current state of the ag economy.
Jaspers believes it’s family farms that are of great importance to the state and its economy. One way to keep family farms in business, according to Jaspers, is in raising livestock.
“I think livestock is very vital,” he said. “It also makes every other sector of the ag economy successful as well.”
As part of ag development, Jaspers encourages farmers to try a different crop to our area, carinata.
“There might be potential for adding a new crop like carinata, a promising oilseed,“ said Jaspers. According to University of Florida researchers, carinata’s high oil content and favorable fatty acid profile make it especially suitable for the biofuel industry, especially as a biojet fuel. The research in Florida is being done in conjunction with Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., a crop company that has the world’s largest collection of carinata germplasm. Carinata has been grown commercially for several years on the Canadian prairie as a summer crop. Commonly called “Ethiopian mustard,” it is native to the Ethiopian highlands. Applied Research Associates (ARA) approached the University of Florida this past August and said they had a U.S. Navy contract that required 200,000 gallons of biofuels and there’s no dockage because it’s not an edible oil.”
The Department of Ag also provides a county site analysis to assess the infrastructure, discover what possible beneficial changes may be made, and provide resources.
“What can we do to help young farmers?” Jaspers inquired at the recent legislative session. “The financial stress for farmers is the worst it has been in a long time. Younger farmer programs with low interest rates are being offered.”
Jaspers also commented on the buffer strip bill that would encourage people to install buffer strips between agricultural land and waterways. It passed both chambers with bipartisan support last month following a veto of a similar bill in 2016. Governor Daugaard signed the bill into law March 8. The bill offers property tax breaks for those who turn land into buffer strips of vegetation to help trap fertilizer, pesticide and sediment before they reach water.
Jaspers reported that the state legislature has approved funding proposals to enhance and update the Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic Laboratory (ADRDL). The state's only animal health laboratory was built in 1967 and updated in 1993; however, new upgrades and expansions are desperately needed in order to meet today's animal health, biosafety and environmental safety needs. Given the recent outbreak of tuberculosis in a beef cattle herd in the state, there is a sense of urgency to update the lab to improve the safety for the workers and enhance the technician's abilities to handle these emergencies as they arise.
“Age 57,” Jaspers replied when asked what the average age of South Dakota’s farmers is. This information is based on the latest findings available in 2015.
Jaspers went on to explain that the agriculture economy is challenging, especially for young farmers. 2016 showed plenty of stress but he is optimistic that the tough times do not last and our future incudes many new ag careers.
“No matter where you live in South Dakota, when the ag economy suffers, the entire state suffers, "said Jaspers.
WEDC board members include Duane Casavan, Lana Dannenbring-Eichstadt, Vernetta LeGrand, James Major, Donna Runge, Ronald Runge, Patricia Schilling, Mary Spicer, Jerold Zerfoss. Karen Clarke was elected as a new board member. The WEDC makes Fun Days possible, administrates the Beadle County Nutrition Site building, and sponsors the Santa Day Parade, and more.
Job Opening: FULL-TIME or PART-TIME CITY MAINTENANCE: City of Wessington, SD. Must be able to operate a variety of equipment. Work areas include but not limited to streets, parks, snow removal, water and sewer, rubble site and swimming pool. Will be required to become South Dakota certified in water and wastewater within first year of employment. Applications accepted until position is filled. Applications available or send resume to City of Wessington Finance Officer, PO Box 38, Wessington, SD 57381 or call (605)458-2351 leave message.
The City of Wessington is now taking applications for a Pool Manager. Applications can be picked up from Lisa Aalbers or call 605-458-2291 after 5:00 pm, or 605-458-2351 and leave a message.
We will continuously update this website with the latest information so that you are always up- to- date with all our activities, new initiatives & offerings. See you in Wessington! Building a vibrant community!
Dates of Importance:
July 15, 2017 Wessington’s Fun Days, parade, car show, street dance, children’s games, pie and chili feed and contest, and much more!
December 9, 2017 Wessington’s Santa Fun Day, parade of lights, Santa, chili feed
See past and upcoming events on the events tabs!
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Please note: Wessington, South Dakota, and Wessington SPRINGS, South Dakota, are two different towns. Often times the media or uneducated folks confuse the two. We forgive you, but let’s clear up the confusion. Wessington, SD, is its own separate entity. We welcome you for a visit and this should help you remember to separate the two.
Copyright 2017 by the Wessington Economic Development Corporation, Wessington SD. All rights reserved.