Featured Partner: SDGFA, Kathy Zander

Posted: 4/28/2015


South Dakota Grain & Feed Association Members Support Farmers as Planting Season Begins


Spring is in the air and farmers in many parts of South Dakota have started spring planting. 


Planting begins in late April or May when soil temperatures warm up, but farmers have been preparing for months.  From selecting inputs like seed, crop protection products and fertilizers, to creating detailed plans with precision agriculture equipment, to tillage and fertilizer application … the process is much more complicated than just driving a tractor each spring.  And, it should be.  Unlike those of us with hourly wages or monthly salaries, crop farmers have one chance a year to raise the most productive crop they can.  That’s why farmers rely on a small team of advisors and service providers to help make decisions for each planting season. 


Many of these partners work for local grain elevators, agribusiness and supply companies located around the state.  They, too, have been preparing for the 2015 growing season for months— stocking products, helping farmers create 2015 planting plans, applying fertilizer, and much more. 


The South Dakota Grain & Feed Association (SDGFA) is an organization that represents about 325 grain elevator firms and other agribusinesses involved in the grain, feed, and farm supply business.  SDGFA was established in 1906 as the Farmers Elevator Association of South Dakota to support members’ interests, especially with policies regarding transportation, marketing, insurance, bonding, legislation, and regulations.


“Agriculture and farming has changed significantly over the years, but the partnership between farmers and suppliers remains important,” said Kathy Zander, executive director of South Dakota Grain & Feed Association.  “And, nearly 108 years after the founding of SDGFA, we are still providing support to members that helps them better serve their farmer customers.”


As farming practices and technologies have changed, so have the services that elevators and ag supply companies are offering to their customers.


“South Dakota farmers have seen the advantages of using new technologies since 96% of the corn and 93% of the soybeans planted in 2013 contained biotech traits.  As biotechnology, precision ag and other technologies advance, SDGFA members will be diligent in their efforts to ensure their customers get the best service possible,” said Zander.


SDGFA members also face challenges depending on growing conditions or regulatory issues each year.  The association provides a voice for its members in working with government agencies, regulators and other industries. 


In 2014, an excellent growing season led to the second largest corn crop in South Dakota history.  With about 787 million harvested bushels, finding storage for all the harvested corn became a priority. 


“Managing the large harvest last fall was a challenge but the members of SDGFA rose to the occasion and did everything they could to accommodate their customers,” said Kathy.  “SDGFA members will continue to work with their customers to market grain that is stored on the farm to get them the best service possible.”


Kathy Zander has served as the executive director of the South Dakota Grain & Feed Association for since 2007.  She has also served as the executive director the South Dakota Agri-Business Association since 1995.   She graduated from high school in Pierre and obtained a degree in Agronomy from South Dakota State. 


Kathy is the proud parent of her daughter, Marie, who she adopted from China when she was 13 months old. 


“Marie is taking after her mother and graduating from high school in Pierre and heading to SDSU next fall to pursue a degree in biology with an emphasis on pre-med,” said Kathy.


SDGFA has been a supporting partner of Ag United since 2012.


“As agriculture is challenged by outside forces that do not understand agriculture, SDGFA felt it was important to support Ag United in their efforts to promote and advance farm and ranch families and rural communities in South Dakota,” Zander said.


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