...we would be wise to remember our rural roots...
"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." — President Dwight D. Eisenhower
This statement from President Eisenhower is a good anecdotal reminder for me, as a pencil pushing attorney that grew up in the "big city" of Sioux Falls. As our great community continues to grow and become more urbanized, we would be wise to remember both our rural roots as well as the fact that the agricultural industry continues to be one of the largest drivers of our city and state economies.
It's not surprising then that Agribusiness has always been one of the pillars of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. We have a highly engaged group of volunteers serving on our Agribusiness Division Advisory Council, and it is this group that annually selects a Farm Family of the Year and Agribusiness Citizen of the Year. For 2021, the Stensland family has been named out Farm Family of the Year. These days, you cannot miss their impact with ice cream at the Sanford International, retail stores around town and quality dairy products in several aisles of your local grocery store. In keeping with a similar theme, Lynn Boadwine has been named Agribusiness Citizen of the Year. His impact in the dairy industry has been significant and we thoroughly appreciate his support of the Chamber.
I would be remiss if I didn't remind you all that the 68th Annual Sioux Empire Livestock Show is coming up at the end of January. This event attracts folks from all over the county to visit Sioux Falls, and is an opportunity for agriculturalists to buy, sell and showcase their livelihood. As with all things happening during this pandemic year, however, some things will be a little different. We are fortunate that the large size of the Expo Building on the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds allows show activities to go on with plenty of space to maintain social distance among all participants.
January also brings the beginning of a new legislative season. Your Chamber has been preparing for it and monitoring activities on your behalf for quite some time. Our policy team will be ready to work for you in Pierre.
Consistent with this and the agricultural topics above, two of the Chamber's largest committees, the Issues Management Committee and the Agribusiness Division, recently held a joint virtual meeting to hear from Hunter Roberts, South Dakota's current Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources and interim Secretary of Agriculture. Roberts discussed the plans to merge the two departments into a single Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In this role, he believes the synergy of a combined department can both benefit producers as well as the environment, specifically highlighting goals for water protection.
With the rollout of a COVID vaccine and other developments on the horizon, I want to wish you all a happy new year with high hopes and prayers for a strong 2021!