2020 AgVocates of the Year: Zane and Sandy Williams

Posted: 12/18/2020

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Zane and Sandy Williams of Irene, S.D., were named the 2020 AgVocate of the Year by the board of directors for Agriculture United for South Dakota. The award was presented to the Williamses in recognition for their commitment to promoting agriculture and livestock production and role in founding a new advocacy group in Yankton County.

The seventh annual AgVocate Award recognizes South Dakotans for their work in sharing their story of modern farming with the public. The award is typically presented during Ag United’s annual luncheon, however, the 2020 event was not held in person as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve known Zane and Sandy for a number of years and have admired their tireless commitment and drive to share information about modern day agriculture,” said Richard Vasgaard, Centerville, S.D., farmer and president of Ag United. “Agriculture and livestock production are critical to our state’s economy and rural communities, and voices like theirs are important to telling our story.”

The Williamses feed cattle and raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa on land near Irene that his great-uncle originally homesteaded 125 years ago. They specialize in raising high quality alfalfa hay for dairy farms. Zane is also a member of the Yankton County Planning and Zoning Commission and Marindahl Township Board.

The Williamses were involved in the founding of Families Feeding Families – AGvocacy! which is a group of family farmers in southeastern South Dakota who work together to host events and share information about how they raise animals and care for the land they farm.

"Zane and Sandy are a great pair, they complement each other with Zane being the one who is vocal and Sandy is more behind the scenes. Together, they are a team that is constantly advocating for agriculture,” said Jim Petrik, Gayville, S.D., farmer. “This has never been more evident than their work these past years in setting up Families Feeding Families in the Yankton area.”

“I have known Zane and Sandy for years through the hay business,” said Ray Epp, Mission Hill, S.D., farmer. “Zane is focused and passionate about farming and is equally passionate about advocating for agriculture as a farmer and serving on the planning and zoning board. Sandy is a tireless organizer in raising the awareness of modern ag practices in our community."

As 2020 winds down, Ag United marks its 16th year of supporting South Dakota farm and ranch families and rural communities. Since its founding, Ag United has enabled more than 35,000 consumers to visit South Dakota farms and connected with more than 13,000 students though Adopt-A-Farmer and National Ag Week programs. In addition, Ag United staff have assisted families in 32 counties with permitting and zoning issues. Visit www.agunited.com, South Dakota Farm Families on Facebook and Instagram, or @SDFarmFamilies on Twitter for more information on Ag United’s activities.


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