Rural Ramblings News from Ag United. Thu, 28 May 2020 09:25:10 -0500 Featured Farmer: Zane Williams FEATURED FARMER:  Livestock Have Been Important for Generations on South Dakota Farm

The farm that Zane Williams’ great uncle homesteaded 125 years ago has changed over the years, but there has been one constant: livestock have always been an important part of the farm for each of the four generations that have lived there.

“In 125 years on our farm, we have never sold corn off the farm. The corn we raise always gets fed to livestock, whether that is dairy cows, beef cattle or hogs,” said Williams.

Zane and his wife Sandy live near Irene, South Dakota, in Yankton County, where he feeds cattle and raises corn, soybeans and hay. He specializes in raising high quality alfalfa hay for dairy farms. Williams is also a member of the Yankton County Planning and Zoning Commission and one of the founding members of the Families Feeding Families-AGvocacy! group that shares information about agriculture with area students and community members.

Williams grew up on the family’s dairy farm. He was the youngest of five children, and his father had health issues, so he began taking a lot of responsibility on the farm at a very early age. He operated his own dairy farm until 2001, then raised Holstein heifers for other dairies. He has also raised pigs and and continues to raise beef cattle.

Each year, Williams raises about 500 acres of hay, which is baled into large square or round bales and sold for feed for dairy cows or beef cattle. Timing and weather are important elements to ensure that the hay is the highest quality. He also stores square bales in sheds to preserve quality before they are trucked to dairy farms.

“The last two years, the weather has been very challenging,” he said. “During the summer, we’re constantly looking at the weather forecast for the next two weeks to see if we can find a stretch of days that will stay dry.”

Williams tries to get four or five cuttings of alfalfa off each field during the growing season, harvesting each field every 27 to 30 days. After it is swathed, the hay lays in the field for a few days to dry down to the right moisture content, then is raked and baled.

“We do everything we can to preserve the hay and get it dry so it will provide the best feed value for cattle,” he said. “Constant rain and high humidity make that very difficult.”

He has been a member of the Yankton County Planning and Zoning Commission for several years. The commission is responsible for reviewing applications and information on plats and building projects throughout rural areas of the county; including new or expanded facilities for raising livestock.

“Adding livestock production to a farm often gives the family’s next generation an opportunity to join the farming business”, he said, noting that it is important for farmers to stay in communication with their neighbors and be proactive when considering new barns for their farms. A number of resources are available to farmers as they plan and design facilities to ensure that they meet zoning requirements, as well as provide the best environment for animals and preserve natural resources.

Williams is also involved in Families Feeding Families-AGvocacy! which is a group of family farmers that include  livestock producers and grain farmers who work together to share information about how they raise animals and care for the land they farm.

“As people, even here in South Dakota, many are generations removed from living on a farm, it is more important than ever that we talk about what we do,” he said. “The technologies and tools we have today mean farmers can take better care of their animals and land, and raise food more efficiently, but that also requires farmers to make a huge dollar investment.”

The Families Feeding Families-AGvocacy! annual Farm Families Speak Up! will start at 5pm on Saturday, March 21, in Yankton. It will feature a meal, silent auction and live music. The keynote speaker is comedian Damian Mason and Trent Loos will serve as MC. All are welcome, admission is a free will donation. 


Sun, 08 Mar 2020 14:16:00 -0500
FEBRUARY PROFILE: Livestock Shows Provide Business, Networking and Outreach Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers 83112288_10151378690204990_6672748512045694976_n.jpgLivestock shows have been an important tradition for U.S. farmers and ranchers for more than a hundred years. Beginning in the early 1900s, groups of farmers would bring together cattle to showcase the latest genetics, sell animals and share information on caring for animals, growing crops and new technologies for the farm.  

“Before radio, television and the internet, getting together to promote genetics, evaluate livestock and learn from each other as producers were all important reasons for fat stock shows,” said Holly Rader, agribusiness division manager for the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.   

Over the decades, technology in communication and agriculture have changed significantly, but livestock shows are still important to the industry.  They’ve also evolved to share information about animal agriculture and livestock production with the public.

The Sioux Empire Livestock Show held its 67th annual show in January 21-25 at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.  The show is coordinated and hosted by the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Division and has grown to include not only livestock competitions for agriculturalists and youth competitors, but also includes a trade show, educational seminars, judging competitions and exhibits, as well as activities for the public. 

Each year the show draws over 1,000 exhibitors of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, and, in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Farm Show, brings over 30,000 visitors and an estimated $3 million economic impact to the Sioux Falls area.  83005260_10151378690324990_3085277726878203904_n.jpg

Rader said the 2020 show was a tremendous success, even though they felt the pinch of a difficult farm economy this year with fewer purebred cattle consignors traveling to the show.

“We worked hard to put together a series of educational presentations and seminars so that it was still worth the trip for producers to come to the show, even if they weren’t able to make the commitment to exhibit their livestock this year,” she said. 

The final day of the show is one of the highlights for Rader.  On Saturday, more than 500 young people participate in livestock judging competitions, including about 250 4-H and FFA students and nearly 300 collegiate students from across the country.  They evaluate animals and explain their decisions to judges on why one animal is better or worse than the others and how it will perform better or worse, regardless of market avenue.

“The skills and confidence students develop while evaluating livestock, forming their own opinion of how the animals will perform, then organizing their thoughts and presenting to the judges will help them succeed in their education endeavors and throughout their life,” she said. 

84092158_177905100236511_4329988510871191552_o.jpgLocal, regional and national livestock shows happen across the country, with each having its own focus and niche in the industry. The Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo is underway in Rapid City from January 31 to February 8, which will draw 331,000 people to the western festival that features 120 different livestock, horse and rodeo events along with over 300 vendors to shop from. 

Rader is a Texas native who moved to Sioux Falls in 2017.  She was born and raised on a small cattle operation in south Texas and was involved in 4-H and FFA.  She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in animal science and was a member of the school’s championship livestock judging team.  After then graduating with her Master’s degree from Oklahoma State University, she worked as the auctions manager for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo before making the move to South Dakota.

The Agribusiness Division of the Chamber includes over 70 members who are active throughout the year, with 15 voting members on the advisory council.  It takes more than 200 volunteers to plan and execute the Sioux Empire Livestock Show each year.

“Our goal is to strengthen ties between the city and agriculture community, which includes providing some 27709473_783391688452858_5781065360541717998_o.jpgeducational programming and exhibits for consumers at the Sioux Empire Livestock Show to emphasize the importance of agriculture in our region and our world,” said Rader. “It takes an entire village to put on the events each year and the business community really comes together to put make everything a success.”

The Agri-Business Division also hosts an annual meeting each spring to recognize the hundreds of volunteers, buyers, and sponsors. Retiring members of the Agri-Business Division Advisory Council are honored along with the Farm Family of the Year, the Agri-Business Citizen of the Year, the buyers at the Mayor´s Round-Up and Sale of Champions, and the Outstanding Livestock Show Volunteers.  The 2020 Farm Family of the Year is the Eggers family, and the 2020 Agri-Business Citizen of the Year is Brian Gilbert

“Agriculture is the backbone of Sioux Falls, our state and our region,” she said.  “When I talk to people at Chamber events or programs, I emphasize that If you are wearing clothes or have eaten a meal, agriculture is important to you,” she said.  “When the ag economy struggles, every industry and community in our state struggles; and when agriculture thrives, everyone does.”  


Wed, 05 Feb 2020 15:10:00 -0600
2020 Ag United Summer Intern IMG_2349.jpg

POSITION TITLE:  Intern, Summer full-time paid position located in Sioux Falls, SD (Position is also shared with Midwest Dairy.) 


*Weekend of South Dakota State Fair is a required activity. Other start and end dates depend on applicants school schedule. 

Application Deadline: January 24th, 2020 

Please include cover letter, resume, and at least 2 references.

Intern will work out of and be supervised by the Ag United for South Dakota office in Sioux Falls, SD. 

Agriculture United for South Dakota is a coalition of farm organizations formed in 2005 with a goal of keeping family farms and ranches growing. Coalition members of Ag United includes: the South Dakota Cattleman's Association, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Pork Producers Council, the South Dakota Soybean Association, the South Dakota Dairy Producers and the South Dakota Poultry Industries Association.  

Ag United works toward promoting and advancing farm and ranch families and rural communities with four guiding principles:

  • Developing communications on the connection between farm life and South Dakota's economic and social well-being.
  • Engaging those who do not tell the truth about agriculture and food production.
  • Educating consumers about the importance of food production.
  • Providing assistance to South Dakota farmers and ranchers.  


Assist with planning and carrying out events. This is a snapshot of some of the activities that will be completed over the summer.  

  1. Farms After Five farm tours – Designed to take South Dakota consumers to the farm, this position helps in organizing details for these events including the farms, ag professionals on the bus, participants, meal, promotion and materials for the day.
  2. Open Houses – Several open houses are hosted through-out the summer to early fall.  Open houses are an opportunity for the public to visit South Dakota dairy, hog and beef farms. Intern will assist with promoting the event, obtain sponsors and ordering supplies for this event. 
  3. Sioux Empire Fair, State Fair – Work the dairy booth at both events and promote dairy to consumers at Sioux Empire Fair. 
  4. Golf Tournaments – Help with set up, registration, and working various golf activities for Ag United coalition members.  

Public Relations 

  1. This position will require blog posts on a timely agriculture related issues.
  2. Develop marketing and promotional materials for various Ag United events and programs.  
  3. Communicate with the general public and answer questions about today’s agriculture
  4. Manage social media accounts and online activities.  This includes but is not limited to:
    1. Ag United’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube accounts.  
    2. Ag United’s website.
    3. Ag United’s email list  


  • Answer various email and phone inquires.
  • Perform daily office management duties such as ordering office supplies, making copies, picking up mail, and answering the phone.
  • Other duties as assigned. 



  • Reports to work and completes tasks in a timely manner
  • Adheres to all policies and procedures
  • Acts as a role model within and outside the organization
  • Performs duties as workload necessitates
  • Maintains a positive and respectful attitude
  • Maintains a demeanor that creates positive team atmosphere
  • Communicates regularly with supervisor
  • Travels as directed for various meetings and events.


  • Enrolled in a bachelors degree program.  
  • Agricultural industry career experience or an ag background preferred.
  • Must have excellent communications skills with the ability to work with the public.
  • Excellent organizational skills, time management, customer service and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to multi-task several projects and activities at one time.
  • Strong work ethic and able to work independently or as part of a team.
  • Ability to work with computer systems including Microsoft Office and design programs.
  • Available to work weekends and evenings to implement programs and events.
  • Have reliable transportation to and from work. 
  • General design, picture and video editing skills is helpful.  


Working conditions include farm settings and a normal office environment, travel within the state. Some lifting is required. Must have valid drivers license. Proof of car insurance is required to drive company vehicle. Some weekends and evenings will be required.

This job description is only a summary of the typical functions of the job, not a comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks and duties.  The Executive Director reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.  Employee may be asked to perform other duties as assigned. 


Ag United for South Dakota

PO Box 507

Sioux Falls, SD 57101


Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:48:00 -0600
Adam Mohrhauser named 2019 AgVocate of the Year DSC_0004.jpgAnswering questions from a roomful of fourth graders would strike fear in the heart of many South Dakotans, but for Adam Mohrhauser, it is one of the highlights of his year.   

Adam serves as an adopted farmer for Ag United’s program that connects farmers and ranchers with fourth grade classrooms across the state.  He sends a video each month that highlights activities from the farm each month, from harvest or planting to calving season.  Once a year he visits each classroom in person.

“It is fun to hear what they are interested in and every time the questions are different,” he said.  “My daughter is the same age, so the students are interested in and ask about many of the same things she does at home.”

As recognition for his work as an adopted farmer and other outreach activities, Adam was named the 2019 AgVocate of the Year by the board of directors for Ag United in December.  Adam farms with his father, Gilbert, on farmland between Hartford and Crooks, northwest of Sioux Falls.  They raise corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and cover crops and also have about 120 beef cows that calve in January and February each year.

Adam and his wife, Ye, have a daughter Chanel, who is 9 years old.  Adam met Ye when they were both IMG_0708.jpginterns at John Morrell.  She is a nurse at Sanford hospital.

Adam has been participating in the Adopt-A-Farmer program since the 2014-15 school year, currently working with classrooms in Humbolt, Mitchell and Harrisburg.  In addition to sharing farm updates, he tries to find ways for students to connect the math and other skills they are learning in the classroom with real-world examples like calculating how much feed a cow eats in a month or year, or how much corn or soybeans are produced in a field.  

He sees value in outreach programs because it is an opportunity to share information with students who may be two, three or more generations removed from production agriculture. 

“Many people drive by fields of corn or soybeans every day, but don’t know anything about what the crop looks like or how it can be used,” said Adam.  During classroom visits, he brings samples of corns, soybeans, and cattle feed rations so students can touch, smell and feel them.  


In addition to his volunteer activities with Ag United, Mohrhauser serves on the Lyons Township Board, Sioux Basin Cattlemen board, Minnehaha County Planning and Zoning Commission, St George’s Knights of Columbus board and volunteers for Minnehaha County 4-H and Tri Valley FFA Alumni. 

“Adam’s work as a community volunteer and leader is a tremendous example of the positive impact that farmers and ranchers have on communities across the state,” said Richard Vasgaard, Centerville farmer and president of the Ag United board of directors. “We appreciate his commitment and service.”

Learn more about the Mohrhauser farm by reading this profile from 2017

Thu, 09 Jan 2020 14:05:00 -0600
Featured Farmer: Focused on Top Quality Beef for the Holidays and All Year Long 4H0A0689.jpgLike many South Dakota families, prime rib will be the centerpiece of the holiday table for the Bieber family this year.  For more than 40 years, it has been a tradition to serve beef at their Christmas dinner.

It has special significance for the family because the work they do on their Bieber Red Angus Ranch all throughout the year is focused on improving the quality, health and efficiency of beef raised on their ranch and across the country.

Bieber Red Angus Ranch was founded by Ron and Lois Bieber near Leola, in north central South Dakota, in the late 1950s.  Their son Craig and his wife Peggy run the ranch today along with five employees, including their daughter and son-in-law.  They began raising Red Angus breed cattle in 1966.

Over the years, the ranch has grown into one of the 30 largest seedstock ranches in the United States.  A seedstock ranch raises cattle that are purchased by other ranches as breeding stock for their herd.  The Biebers have about 900 registered Red Angus cows in their herd.  Cows and their calves are registered with the breed association to record their pedigree, or family history, and document genetic and performance traits.4H0A0058.JPG

“Our goal is to produce high quality bulls that will help other ranches improve the genetics of their herd, resulting in higher quality beef,” said Craig Bieber.  “We use a variety of genetic and performance data to select cattle that are both efficient and will produce great-tasting, quality beef.”

The Biebers raise calves born on the ranch, then sell them as bulls or heifers to other ranches.  They have three large sales each year, two in South Dakota and one in Georgia for customers in the southeastern U.S. Each year they sell about 550 to 600 bulls. 

The Biebers have been early adopters of a number of technologies that help them better predict performance of their animals, such as using ultrasound for carcass testing.  They also respond to changing consumer trends and preferences such as leaner beef or smaller steak cuts by breeding and raising animals that will meet those demands.   

Improved genetics in their herds can also help ranchers boost the efficiency of beef production. 


“We want cattle to be better ‘upcyclers’ by being able to more efficiently turn the grass and feed they eat into more beef,” he said, noting that cattle eat grass or forage for about 75 to 80 percent of their lives. 

“Across the industry, beef producers are using improved genetics and management practices to raise more beef with fewer animals,” he said.  That results in better use of land and resources on ranches as well as beef feedlots and processing plants.

Learn more about Bieber Red Angus Ranch and see photos of the cattle and the team that raises and cares for them on their website and Facebook page. 

The Biebers have been active in the beef industry and promotion efforts for decades. Craig is a past president of the South Dakota Red Angus Association and has served on the South Dakota Beef Industry Council and US Meat Export Federation.


In fact, it was Lois’ work with beef promotion programs in the late 1970s that prompted her to make the switch from a more traditional turkey or ham dinner on Christmas to prime rib. Click here for more information on selecting, preparing and serving prime rib dishes for the holiday season and all year long!

Wed, 11 Dec 2019 10:35:00 -0600
South Dakota Sports Rivalry Goes Beyond the Field and Court  


The athletic rivalry between the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University dates back 130 years to the first football meeting of the two universities in 1889.  Over the years, the schools have competed in more than 560 collegiate athletics head-to-head match-ups in football, basketball, volleyball, softball, women’s soccer, women’s tennis.  They also compete in Summit League competitions for track and field, golf and swimming and diving. 

The friendly rivalry was taken to a new level with the creation of the South Dakota Showdown Series presented by South Dakota Corn in 2012.  The Showdown Series tracks head-to-head matchups and conference championship results in 16 sports with each school accumulating points toward the overall series championship. The Series also recognizes outstanding academic achievement by the schools’ student-athletes.

The school with the most points each year receives a trophy and bragging rights, but the biggest winner in the showdown is Feeding South Dakota, a statewide not-for-profit with the goal of ending hunger in South Dakota.  It has also provided an opportunity for the state’s farmers to share information about modern agriculture in South Dakota.   

“Over the first seven years, the Showdown Series has donated more than $300,000 to our efforts, which has provided more than 900,000 meals to South Dakotans in need,” said Matt Gassen, CEO of Feeding South Dakota.  “That alone is a huge number.  In addition, the partnership has led to relationships with other agriculture organizations and companies as well as increased awareness and fundraising efforts by students and athletic programs at both schools.”

The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council has been the title sponsor of the program from the beginning, in partnership with Learfield Sports on behalf of both SDSU and USD athletic departments.  

“When USD moved back to Division I NCAA competition in 2012, we knew that the in-state rivalry games would capture the attention of students and fans,” said Teddi Mueller, marketing and legislative director for South Dakota Corn.  “It provided a great opportunity for a new program that would start conversations about modern agriculture and food production and support Feeding South Dakota at the same time.  After all, the main mission of South Dakota farmers is to feed people, whether they are around the world or in the communities across our state.” 

Mueller said the Showdown Series has gained momentum and excitement with each season, resulting in new promotions and activities at the series competitions and involvement from more students, coaches, fans and businesses each year.  

“The SDSU and USD football game draws interest from current students and generations of alumni. It's a fun time to take pride and support your institution and thousands of South Dakotans are paying attention. As a former player and lifelong resident of the state, I can tell you that it is a special day,” said Jeff Schultz, former SDSU football player and a dairy farmer from Freeman.  “As farmers become more modern and efficient, less labor is required to produce agricultural products. Events like the Showdown are a good way to tell the public, most of whom no longer have a connection to the farm, that their food supply, which is the most abundant, cheapest, and safest in the world, is being produced responsibly and sustainably right here in South Dakota.” 

The program raised $32,000 for Feeding South Dakota in the 2012-13 season, and has increased to about $70,000 each year.  

According to Gassen, one in nine South Dakotans are considered food insecure, and one in six of those are children.  Feeding South Dakota operates three distribution centers that provide food to charities and organizations in all 66 counties in the state.  

“We know we are probably touching more than 100,000 lives each year through Feeding South Dakota’s efforts,” said Gassen, noting that the organization distributed 15.4 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2019. 

The 2019-20 Showdown Series is underway, with USD currently leading the points standing.  The next matchup is the USD and SDSU football game on Saturday, November 23, in Vermillion.  Excitement is already building … watch for more details about gameday activities on social media!

“The game between the Coyotes and the Jacks was one that you didn’t need any extra motivation to get ready for, this game was about bragging rights for the entire state of South Dakota. In my situation, it was also about bragging rights in my own family,” said Brian Alderson, Hartford cattle feeder and former USD football player.  “The idea that two football rivals can come together to help raise awareness and funds to fight hunger in our state is a testament to the giving spirit of South Dakota farm families.” 

“It has been fun to see how the student athletes and coaches have gotten involved in the Showdown Series and Get Off The Bench programs with videos and photos on social media,” said Mueller. 

Attendees at every Showdown Series game can donate to Feeding South Dakota at donation boxes, and anyone can participate in the “Get Off the Bench” program by donating at




Tue, 12 Nov 2019 14:27:00 -0600
October Featured Partner – Bruce Vollan, Vollan Oil 1564492919046_vollan_oil.jpgIn a typical year, corn and soybean harvest in South Dakota is in full gear throughout the month of October. However, there has been nothing typical about 2019 for many of our state’s farmers.  With wet weather that delayed or prevented planting, many crops are well behind schedule and farmers are hoping that Mother Nature cooperates for crops to mature and dry in time to harvest before winter weather sets in.

For both corn and soybeans, there is an ideal moisture level for the harvested grain to ensure that it doesn’t spoil or lose quality when it is stored and transported.  In some years, the grain dries naturally in the field and is at about 15 percent moisture when the corn is harvested. In other years, farmers need to harvest when the corn is wetter, so they rely on drying equipment in grain bins to dry the harvested grain to the proper levels. 

In most cases, the drying equipment runs on propane, so good relationships with propane suppliers during busy fall months are important to farmers. 

Bruce Vollan, owner of Vollan Oil in Baltic, South Dakota, delivers a full range of fuel and oil products and has started delivering and selling propane to customers in the past few years. He works closely with farmer customers to make sure their tanks are full and equipment is ready to go when harvest and drying season is underway.

“This year especially, everyone is concerned about harvest timing and quality,” he said.  “Our goal is to get propane supplies to farmers quickly when they are ready to run dryers.”

He pointed out that maintaining grain quality could be an even bigger challenge this year because of wet areas of fields that will cause variability in moisture levels within the field.  Farmers will be monitoring grain bins closely throughout the harvest season and while it is being stored. 

For farmers and Vollan Oil, safety is a top priority during the busy harvest season.  

“We can’t stress safety enough to our employees and everyone we work with,” he said.  “This time of year we need to be very cautious and on the look out for potential issues.” 

Vollan Oil was started as Midway Station in 1921.  In 1978, Bruce’s father began leasing the station and eventually bought the Midway Corner property and Wold Oil Company in 1988.  The business became Vollan Oil Company.

Bruce grew up about 7 miles from the business and attended Garretson schools.  His appreciation for farming and agriculture grew as he worked for several neighbor farms, milking cows, caring for pigs and helping with equipment and field work as needed.

“I enjoyed working with the area farms and became the local ‘fill-in’ for chores when they needed help,” he said.   

He began working at Vollan Oil after school and on weekends when he was 16 and started at the station full-time in 1989.  Bruce, his wife, Pamela, and three children live near Baltic. 

The business has evolved and grown significantly over the past 10 years. 

“It was just my mom, dad and myself with a gas station and a fuel truck, then we started branching out to deliveries and have grown quite a bit,” said Bruce. “Adding blender pumps for ethanol use also diversified our products and helped set us apart.” 

With 4 transports and 6 tank wagons and 11 employees, Vollan Oil now provides a full range of fuel and oil products, including ethanol and biodiesel options as well as propane, diesel exhaust fluid and heating oil.  They work with a variety of ag and commercial customers across South Dakota and into Minnesota and Iowa. 

“We work with a wide variety of customers and are able to give them multiple product options and stay flexible to meet their needs,” said Bruce.

As farmers prepare for another harvest season, so are thousands of partner businesses and service provides across the state.  Like Vollan Oil, they each have an important role in making sure that the harvest is safe and productive for everyone involved.  


Fri, 04 Oct 2019 08:15:00 -0500
Featured Farmer Kevin Hoffman image0000.jpgAs summer winds down, many South Dakota gardeners are busy canning and freezing the bounty of their gardens.  Jars of pickles and other produce or freezers full of sweet corn and tomatoes provide a taste of summer even in the coldest South Dakota winters.  

Livestock farmers take a similar approach to some of their crops to provide a high quality and nutritious source of feed for animals all year long.  One example is corn silage.  Rather than wait until later in the fall to harvested the corn kernels, farmers “chop” the entire plant while it is green in August or September then store in silage piles or bunkers.

The chopped corn plants in silage piles are compacted, then tightly covered and allowed to ferment. Favorable bacteria grows and produces acids to prevent spoilage and preserve the plants as a high quality feed source.  

Kevin Hoffman is a dairy farmer from Dolton, South Dakota, who has also been running a custom chopping business across eastern South Dakota for nine years.  He owns and operates the harvesting equipment and trucks to chop and haul feed for farmers, and works with dairy farmers and beef producers to ensure that crops are cut at the right time to ensure the best feed possible.image0000.jpg

Kevin’s business started by buying the equipment for his own farm, then getting calls by neighbors to help them chop their fields. Every year he continued to chop for neighbors then eventually grew bigger.

“By hiring a custom chopper, farmers can still have an affordable option to get quality feed for their livestock without the expense of owning and operating the machinery themselves,” said Kevin.  “My role in livestock farming is to all ow farmers to produce quality feed for their livestock all year.” 

He is busy in May and June cutting alfalfa, rye and oats, then again in August and September for corn silage.  

Kevin grew up on a farm outside of Dolton where he and his wife, Judy, still milk about 70 dairy cows and raise crops.  Their daughter, Rebecka, is a sophomore at South Dakota State University studying dairy production.  She helps with the operation and plans to return after graduation.  

Kevin’s brothers, Steve and Jim, are also involved in the custom chopping business as truck drivers and mechanics.

“It’s a very family-based business and we try to help each other where needed,” he said.  

Because silage is an important part of their cows’ diets, it is key for dairy farmers to chop the corn when it is at the right moisture level to ensure that it has the most nutrients and stores and ferments properly. 

“Dairies are looking for a higher quality feed,” he said. “This changes the when we chop to get the best quality.”

Mon, 09 Sep 2019 14:53:00 -0500
“All Hands On Deck” at Dakotafest Pork Loin Booth Dakotafest magaizine pic by bales.jpghas grown to be the largest farm show in South Dakota, drawing an average of nearly 29,000 attendees from 13 states over its three-day run each year.  The show, to be held August 20-22, 2019, in Mitchell, features product demonstrations, educational sessions and activities, but one of the most popular stops is the Davison County Pork Producers stand featuring pork loin sandwiches.  

Planning for and running the booth is a labor of love for a small group of farmers each year, with the proceeds used to benefit their communities and share information about pork all year long. Throughout the show, the pork producers and a small army of students and volunteers will grill, slice, and serve about 3,000 pounds of pork loin.

Ryan and Amy Storm farm and raise pigs near Ethan, South Dakota, and have been involved with the Pork Producers’ stand for more than 20 years.  

“When we make a sandwich, we don’t skimp,” said Amy.  “We want people to get a great sandwich that shows off our delicious pork.  We also try to keep prices reasonable for families who are attending.”  

During the show, the grills are started early in the morning with the goal of having sandwiches ready by 10:00 a.m.  In addition to friends, family members and industry professional who volunteer at the stand, students from the Mitchell Technical Institute Ag Club help grill and serve sandwiches.

“It is great to work with our own kids and students from the Ag Club, and it is important for them to learn the community side of agriculture and be part of working together in the industry and promoting our product,” she said. IMG_7502.JPG

Proceeds from the stand are used throughout the year to promote pork at state and local level and to provide meat for cookoffs and fundraising events, holiday programs, and other activities. They also provide several scholarships to high school students in Davison County who are pursuing agriculture related degrees.  

The Pork Producers also grill meat for community events, weddings, and graduations, but as members are busier with their own farms and families, the Dakotafest stand is the primary effort each year.

Ryan and Amy dated in high school and married after graduating from South Dakota State University.  They joined Ryan’s parents, Chuck and Dee Storm, in the farming operation in 1998.

“Raising pigs provided the opportunity for us to come back to the farm,” she said.  They build a finishing barn and became shareholders in a Pipestone System sow barn, receiving weaned pigs and raising them in their own barns. They also raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and cattle.

The Storms have three children: Jake graduated high school this spring and will attend Mitchell Tech in the fall studying precision agriculture; Kory is a high school freshman; and Luke is a 6thgrader.  

 “I was born and raised on a farm, and now as a mom, I wouldn’t trade it for any place in the world to raise kids,” she said. “There is no better place to learn life lessons of being neighborly, having a work ethic, caring for animals, and understanding lessons of life and death.”  

Each family member has a role on the farm, and also keep busy with school activities and community groups. 

“Making a farming operation work with the five of us doing the work is not always fun, but we are learning how to solve problems together and work as a team,” she said. 

IMG_7495.JPGIn addition to her involvement in the farm, Amy has a photography business, is an EMT on the local fire department and is president of the school board.  Ryan is active with the South Dakota Pork Producers Council, serving as president a few years ago and a member on various committees.  They are both members of the local township board and involved in their church.  

The Storms and other Davison County Pork Producers members are busy planning for the 2019 Dakotafest booth and looking forward to three days of working together and promoting the industry they love.

“As farmers, our goal is to share our stories and encourage people to enjoy the pork products we work hard to raise,” she said. 

Tue, 06 Aug 2019 10:49:00 -0500
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Wed, 03 Jul 2019 10:25:00 -0500
Right Place, Right time - Farmers Using Technology to do More with Less Patriot_4440_Sprayer_0168_07-13_mr.jpgInnovations and technologies in agriculture are allowing farmers and the professionals they work with to be both larger and smaller at the same time. How is that possible?

Andrew Holland, owner of Yield Pro, a custom application and retail business in Montrose, South Dakota, is a great example. In May 2010, he started his business to custom apply fertilizer and crop protection products on farmers’ fields. He also sells crop inputs like 

seed and fertilizer, and provides a number of services to help farmers be more productive, including soil sampling and precision agriculture consulting.

During busy seasons, Andrew and a team of five employees face tight timelines to apply the right product to fields at the right time.  Each product has a detailed label with specific instructions on application rate and timing for each crop. And, they often have to change plans quickly when Mother Nature deals a challenge like rain or high winds.  

The equipment he uses to apply fertilizer and other products is impressive.  The sprayer has two booms that unfold in the field to a full span of 120 feet (as comparison, a football field is about 160 feet wide from sideline to sideline)!  The sprayer’s tank can hold 1,200 gallons of liquid.

However, when you see sprayer equipment moving through fields, it is important to note that most of that liquid is actually water.  It just requires a small amount – as small as a cup of coffee – of chemical on each acre(about the size of an entire football field). Check out this videoof North Dakota farmer Sarah Wilson explaining that the chemicals used on their farm is really “not a latte.”

Even more impressive than size of modern equipment, though, is the technology that allows Andrew to control the rate and amount of product applied throughout the field, adjusting even the droplet size. Farmers are able to measure and track what is planted, applied and harvested from their fields not just to the acre, but even to the square yard, foot or inch. 

Farmers work with professionals like Andrew to review their fields before, during and after the growing season to make sure they are being as productive and sustainable as possible. 

Soil sampling is an important part of many farmers’ planning process.  Small samples of soil are taken in grids or zones across a field, then analyzed.  A map is created to show the amount of nutrients in each section of the field.  Andrew then works with the farmer to develop a plan or “script” to apply different rates of fertilizer to the fields depending on what areas need it most.  

“I do a lot of variable rate work for my customers, from writing the recommendations and developing the scripts, then uploading to their equipment,” said Andrew.  “This is one area that has helped my customers’ succeed over the past five years.”

This type of variable rate technology is also used for other crop inputs.  For example, planting higher rates of seed in areas of the field where soils are more productive.  

“GPS along with automatic shutoffs on sprayers and planters has allowed us to be more precise on the amount of seed planted and amount of fertilizer and crop protection products we apply,” he said. “We are placing the products where they need to be for the customer to be successful and significantly reduced overseeding and overapplying that may have happened 10 years ago. 

Using GPS systems with autosteer and other technologies, farmers and customer applicators like Andrew can follow the scripts exactly and keep records to review during the season and after harvest.   

“I work a lot with precision data capture to help farmers see realtime results in their fields throughout the growing season,” he said.  “Then we can go back and look at those maps to make recommendations for following years.” 

Andrew was raised on a cow calf operation near Montrose, South Dakota, and also helped local grain farmers.  He and his wife Jessica have two sons: Macon and Angus.

Andrew notes that the technology advancements and improved management practices – whether they are large or small – have an important effect on not just farmers, but rural communities across the state. 

“Many of the local businesses depend heavily on the business they do with our farm families,” he said. “The development of new opportunities for young farm families in rural South Dakota is crucial to the sustainability of our communities.”    

Wed, 03 Jul 2019 09:25:00 -0500
Partner Profile:  Dave Christensen, Valley Queen Cheese Each June, National Dairy Month is a great opportunity to enjoy delicious dairy products and to recognize the people who make those products possible.  From farm to grocery store, it takes a team of dedicated professionals to produce, deliver and process the milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and many more products20180917_VQC_109.jpg we love.

Dave Christensen has been a milk hauler for Valley Queen Cheese for seven and a half years.  He is responsible for transporting milk from farms to the Valley Queen cheese plant in Milbank, but that is only the beginning. Dave and other milk haulers play a critical part in ensuring the quality of each tank load of milk, and ultimately, the cheese that is produced by Valley Queen and shipped around the country.

Dave grew up on a farm near Marvin, South Dakota, and has been involved in agriculture his entire life. He worked on farms of several neighbors, then owned his own tractor-trailer to haul livestock for about 15 years before joining Valley Queen.  Dave and his wife Jolene have two adult children and one grandson.

“As a milk hauler, I am home every night,” he said.  “Valley Queen is a good company that turned 90 years old this year. The dairy producers are good to work with and so are my fellow employees.” 

Each day, Dave picks up two to three loads of milk, each containing 52,000 to 53,000 pounds.  Even during challenging weather conditions like South Dakota has faced this winter and spring, it is critical that milk is picked up from the farm.

“We maintain constant communication with our dairies to ensure milk is picked up in a timely manner,” he said.  “The only time we don’t pick up milk is when the roads are impassable – when travel becomes a safety issue.”

 He also has a milk sampler/grader license that is issued and maintained by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.


“When I pick up milk, I am responsible for grading the milk to verify acceptability and rejecting all milk of unsatisfactory quality,” he said.  “I also use proper measuring techniques to determine the amount of milk picked up, and I am the official collector of samples that are to be used to determine payment and quality of milk.” 

He collects small samples of milk at the farm to measure temperature and check for presence of bacteria and antibiotics.  Farmers use medicines like antibiotics when necessary to treat sick cows, but milk from treated cows must be kept out of the milk supply for a specified amount of time. The milk is also sampled 20180917_VQC_101.jpgfor “components” like protein and butterfat.  These components determine a portion of what dairy farmers are paid for their milk.  

Dave notes that the dairy farmers take a number of steps to ensure the quality and safety of milk, including making sure that animals are healthy and comfortable, and that the barns, parlors and other facilities are clean and well-maintained.  They work hard to provide clean bedding, good air movement and ventilation, water and feed supplies, control flies, and schedule regular check-ups by veterinarians and training for employees. 

The samples that Dave takes at the farm are just the first step.  Valley Queen is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and there are a number of checks and balances to ensure consumers that dairy products are safe and wholesome to consume.

“When I arrive at Valley Queen, a load sample is pulled and tested for antibiotics.  The milk isn’t unloaded until we know that it is negative for antibiotics and safe for human consumption,” he said.  The tanker is also checked for smell, acidity and whether water has been added.  The tanker is washed inside and out at the end of each day.  

Valley Queen Cheese was founded in 1929 and celebrating its 90thanniversary in 2019.  The company was founded when cheese makers Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach were looking for a new home for their small Wisconsin cheese plant.  Alfred Gonzenbach stopped for fuel in Milbank on his way to Montana to look at a plant site, but was approached by local businessmen and decided to stay in South Dakota. 

The company currently processes 4.3 million pounds of milk each day.  The plant is in the midst of a $53 million expansion that will be completed this summer.  Once the expansion is complete, the plant can process about 5.3 million pounds per day, for a total yearly cheese capacity of 200 million pounds per year.

The plant produces American-style cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack, gouda and Havarti. The cheeses are all shipped in 700-pound boxes to customers who slice, shred and chunk cheese into retail and food service packages.  

20180917_VQC_137.jpgIn addition to cheese, Valley Queen produces whey protein concentrate, lactose and anhydrous milkfat. Whey protein concentrate is used primarily in infant formula, sports nutrition and bakery applications. Lactose is used in milk chocolate production and is also exported to New Zealand for use in the standardization of dried milk powders.  Anhydrous milkfat is used in chocolate production, processed cheese and other prepared foods. 

Across the state of South Dakota, the dairy industry is responsible for creating more than 6,200 jobs and generates more than $2.4 billion in economic activity each year — that is about $26,300 in economic activity per cow!  

Want to learn more about dairy farming and see where those delicious dairy products get their start? Click here to check out the list of 2019 open house events and tours.  We hope to see you there!

Mon, 03 Jun 2019 15:52:00 -0500
Growing a Passion Hi, I am Rebecka Hoffman and I am a farmer’s daughter and the summer intern for Ag United. 


I grew up on a small dairy farm outside of Dolton, South Dakota; there I was very active with helping my Dad and Mom run our dairy herd. On our farm, my duties included milking in the afternoons, helping with calves, and spending most summers in the alfalfa fields. During high school, I was very active in FFA and 4-H. In both organizations, I judged and showed dairy cattle. Through these activities and experiences, I have grown to have a strong passion for the agriculture industry.

Working on my family’s farm for as long as I can remember has taught me many lessons and skills. Through working, I have gained a strong work ethic and found it to help me throughout my high school years and my first year of college. I have also learned how to take responsibility, even when things do not go as planned and how to handle unplanned situations. 

In high school as I served as an active FFA and 4-H member, I found myself becoming more passionate about dairy and advocating for the agricultural industry. My passion grew as I was constantly meeting consumers who did not understand what happens on farms or where their foods came from. While working with consumers, my love and passion for the dairy industry grew as I got to share my dairy background with others. Because of my passion for agriculture, I decided to attend South Dakota State University, where I will be a sophomore this fall, majoring in Dairy Production and minoring in Agricultural Business.


After college, I would like to return to my family’s dairy and take over our family’s operation.  On our farm, we milk 80 Holstein and jersey cows. In the future, I would like to expand our herd and update our facilities. I would enjoy running my family’s dairy to continue my love for the dairy industry and to share with consumers about my passion of farming through social media and farm tours.

This summer, I am very excited to learn more about the different types of agriculture, along with helping farmers and ranchers promote their stories. I cannot wait to attend events throughout the summer that help bring the producers and consumers closer together!

Mon, 13 May 2019 16:26:00 -0500
Featured Farmer: Celebrating and Supporting Farm and Ranch Families IMG-6262.JPGMore than 500 people gathered recently in Yankton to celebrate and support the role of farm and ranch families in providing a safe food supply and strong communities.  Josh and Deanna Johnson and other organizers of the Farm Families: Speak Up event planned an evening to share their stories with town and rural neighbors and support each other during a challenging time for many farmers and ranchers.  

“We decided to start a conversation as a group to get ideas on how to change the communities’ outlook toward local farmers. Unknown to us, a small group was meeting, planning a benefit for the same purpose,” said Deanna. “We joined as a group and ‘Families Feeding Families: Agvocacy’ began."

For five generations, Josh’s family has lived on and farmed land in southeastern South Dakota near Mission Hill, about 10 miles northeast of Yankton.  Josh’s father, Louie, lives about a mile away from the farm on the family’s original homestead that was settled in 1869.

Today, Josh farms about 800 acres of corn and soybeans and has a 2,400 head swine nursery.  The family also has small herds of Pygmy goats and boar goats.  Josh and Deanna have three children:  Trinity, 16, Mack, 3, and Charlie, 16 months.  55529817_2385086234891538_7773859693016907776_n.png

Deanna has served as a trooper with the South Dakota Highway Patrol for nine years, and sees some similarities between law enforcement and farming professions.

“There are not many people who make a lot of money in either profession. They are more of a calling, a lifestyle of serving the public and making the world a better place. We have a passion in what we are doing,” she said, also noting that both positions were at one time well respected and now both are under attack by some people.

Working together as a family is one of the most rewarding aspects of agriculture and livestock production for the Johnsons.  

“Farming really is a family job. Josh does it full time but if he needs help with pigs, in a field or anything else we help. His father still helps quite a bit and we are a close-knit group,” she said. “It’s fulfilling to put a lot of work into a field and get rewarded with high yields or watch the pigs grow.”

56492560_2460619187296104_5987878992735109120_n.jpgSharing their stories of how family farmers are using modern technologies and updated management practices to provide better care for animals and protect the environment is one of the goals of the Families Feeding Families effort, especially since many South Dakotans are multiple generations removed from growing up on a farm. 

The April 13 event featured a meal, presentation by Nebraska rancher and advocate for agriculture Trent Loos, opportunities to learn more about area farmers, silent and live auctions and a band.  Proceeds from the event will fund future activities to strengthen relationships and build understanding between families.  For more information, check out their website and Facebook page

Wed, 01 May 2019 15:50:00 -0500
March Agvocates Thank you March Agvocates.jpgThank you to our March Agvocates!
March was filled with many fun events. Despite the winter weather our agvocates participates in a variety of events from Ag Week classroom visits, Livestock Seminar, Ag Day at the Washington Pavilion, our annual Families Feeding Families banquet, and our Sioux Falls Beef Crawl. 

Ag Week Visits: 
Gregg Ode 
Bruce Burkhart 
Annelies Seffrood
Adam Krause 
Gary Jardie
Brad Greenway
Peggy Greenway 
Ray Epp 
Heidi Zwinger 
Greg Moes 
Julie Moes 
Shari Thiewes

Livestock Seminar: 
Tom Nealon
Mandi Anderson
Brian Friedrichsen
Kurt Turner
Dan Boehmer
Brad Hohn
Ty Eschenbaum
Clint Overskei
Mike Jaspers
Bob Gale 

Ag Day: 
Kaelyn Platz 
Katelyn Groetsch 
Rebecka Hoffman 
Calissa Lubben
Sanne De Bruijn 
Brooke Engstrom 

Families Feeding Families Banquet: 
Elenore Dick 
Truman Dick 
Richard Vassgard 
Don Rasmussen
Kyle Huniker 
Kayleigh Koch 
Ty Stender 
Julie Hammer 
Jason Appel 
Rich Albretch
Sydney Becker 
Congressman Dusty Johnson 
Reid Rasmussen 
Maia Kennedy 
Karlye Maras

Sioux Falls Beef Crawl: 
Shirley and David Thompson
Stacey and Troy Hadrick 
Scott and Amanda Stahl 
Tim and Kari Ostrem 
Phil Eggers 

Fri, 12 Apr 2019 13:00:00 -0500
Rural Dictionary: Crop Rotation crop-rotation.jpgCrop rotation is the systematic planting of different crops in a particular order over several years in the same growing space. According to SDSU Extension, benefits of good crop rotation are numerous and include reduced soil erosion and improved soil water management, soil tilth, and fertility. Along with this Crop rotation can also reduce pest issues and reliance on pesticides. Rotations also allow farmers to spread their workload and better utilize labor and machinery resources. The risk from weather related incidents can also be reduced with a good crop rotation.

Mark Salvador, Strategic Accounts Manager for Pioneer states, each corn or soybean variety has traits that make them suitable to a farmer’s crop rotation or management practices. Things like root strength, plant standability, tolerance to diseases, rought, insects and herbicides are important to farmers depending on their management style and geography. Watch a Video here.

Fri, 12 Apr 2019 10:54:00 -0500
Making Decisions Ahead of Busy Planting Season image001.jpgWith warmer temperatures, sunshine and drying fields, South Dakota’s farmers are preparing for spring planting.  It is also a busy time for ag industry professionals who provide inputs and services to farmers.  Mark Salvador, Strategic Accounts Manager for Pioneer based in Sioux Falls, and his team are focused on helping farmers choose the right seed products for their farms.    

As farmers are inspecting, repairing, calibrating and getting farm equipment ready for long hours of operation, people in the seed business are busy staging seed products for delivery and working with growers to ensure the proper placement of corn hybrids and soybean varieties. 

Because an entire year’s production and profit often relies on one growing season, the decisions a farmer makes are critical.  Farmers typically have a small team of advisors to help with selecting the right seed, crop protection, fertilizer and other inputs for their farm.  These can include agronomists, seed or crop protection company representatives, staff of local cooperatives or seed dealerships, as well as independent crop consultants.

“Corn and soybean products are designed for specific growing environments,” said Mark.  “Yields can be affected by as much as 30 percent if farmers plant seeds on the acres they were born and bred to perform in. At the same time, planting seeds that aren’t a good fit for that field can easily cost a farmer yield and sap the profit out of an entire field.”

There are a number of factors that farmers take into consideration when choosing seed products, including:

  • Each corn or soybean variety has traits that make them suitable to a farmer’s crop rotation or management practices. Things like root strength, plant standability, tolerance to diseases, image001.jpg rought, insects and herbicides are important to farmers depending on their management style and geography
  • Corn and soybean plants have different “maturities,” which is how long it typically takes the plant to reach physiological maturity and be ready for harvest.  In northern areas like South Dakota, it is important to plant “shorter season” hybrids because our growing seasons are shorter.  Corn hybrids typically reach maturity between 120 and 150 days after emergence.  
  • Farmers may choose to plant a range of products with different maturities so those crops are ready for harvest at different times in the fall. It is one way to spread the workload during a busy season.
  • Each year seed companies launch a number of new varieties and hybrids, so farmers typically plant a combination of new products and older ones that have proven yield and agronomic performance in their areas. 
  • And, cost is always a major factor.  Farmers work with input providers to put together the most cost-effective combination of seeds and other products. 

Technologies are allowing farmers to make more informed decisions than ever before, and keep a closer eye on their crops all season long, said Mark.

“Precision Agronomy tools are booming these days! To save money and to do right by the environment, increasingly we see farmers adopting digital production tools such as variable rate seed and fertilizer applications,” he said.  “By taking a soil map and overlaying it with historical yield data for that field, we can create personalized prescriptions with exact amounts of fertilizer for each area of the field.  We can optimize farm inputs and avoid over-applying plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.”

By combining satellite technologies and modeling software, farmers can also make sure that their crops have the nutrients and protection they need during the growing season.

“We now have a tool called “Granular Crop Insights” that can help predict whether a corn crop will have the nutrients needed to make a full crop and also, if we are running short due to extraordinary weather events,” he said. “It provides some advanced warning and an opportunity to rescue a crop if it appears it will run out of groceries!” 


Finally, we now have subscription-based farm management software that allows our customers to break down farm profitability right down to the specific field. We will soon be able to see profitability at the individual acre basis. Everything we develop in the precision agronomy space is designed to intensify crop management, optimize inputs, drive continuous improvement (sustainability) and increase profitability.

Mark grew up as the oldest of four siblings on a farm on the high-plains of northeastern Colorado.  After graduating fr

om Colorado State University in Fort Collins, he returned to the family farm for a few years before moving to Des Moines to work for Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to work in various aspects of public policy as an advocate for farm and livestock families.  He joined DuPont Pioneer and worked for several years in Des Moines, then moved to Sioux Falls four years ago.  His wife, Courtney, is a dental hygienist.  

“I am passionate about grassroots advocacy, remain a card-carrying member of the Iowa and South Dakota Farm Bureau Federations and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association,” he said. “If and when Courtney and I have spare time, we like to hunt, fish and travel.”

He works with a team of sales and agronomy professionals in South Dakota, and is one of more than 20,000 employees that work for the agricultural division of DowDuPont, which is known as Corteva AgriScience.   

“While there are almost twenty of us working as staff in the South Dakota seed and crop protection businesses, we have nearly two sales agencies per county across the same geography,” he said.  

In addition, a research station in Volga, South Dakota, is seven years old. Scientists work to develop seed products that are suited specifically for the region’s climate and soil types.


Tue, 09 Apr 2019 14:51:00 -0500
Busy calving and lambing seasons pay off with healthy animals Newborn calves and lambs are an iconic sign of spring, but it takes planning, care and work all year long to ensure those young animals are healthy and ready to enjoy the green pastures of spring and summer.  

2018 (13 of 129).jpgD.J. Buseman and his family raise cattle, sheep and crops on their farm near Canistota, South Dakota, and are especially busy from mid-January through March during calving and lambing season.  

“On the most hectic days, we may have 30 lambs or 20 to 30 calves born,” he said.  “Our goal is to keep them warm and dry to give them a healthy start.”

D.J. grew up on the farm and came back to join the operation full-time after college graduation.  He farms with his father, Joe Buseman.  His mom, Kim, is a kindergarten teacher in Marion, South Dakota.  D.J.’s wife, Danya, is the agronomy training coordinator for Hefty Seed Company and also helps with the farm when she can. 

Like most farms, the Busemans have evolved their business over the years.  They now focus on raising beef cattle. Of the several calves born from their cow herd each spring, the Busemans raise about 90 Angus bulls to be sold to other farmers and ranchers.  The remaining calves are typically raised to about 700 pounds and sold as feeder calves. 

They raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats and have started planting cover crops that can be used for grazing in late summer and fall.  They have also expanded their sheep flock in recent years. 

“Both my grandparents had sheep and we had a small flock at our farm when we were growing up and my sisters and I showed them for 4-H,” he said.  “When I graduated from college and returned home, I took over the flock and began keeping replacement ewes and occasionally buying additional ewes.”

They now have a flock of 160 Hampshire Suffolk cross ewes.  IMG_0314 (1).jpg

“Raising sheep is a great sideline whether you have cattle or are strictly crop farming,” he said. “Sheep really don’t take much labor with the exception of lambing season, and your return on investment may be higher than other livestock right now.”

For the Busemans, calving and lambing season begin with beef heifers (animals having their first calf) in mid-January, then sheep in February and the remaining beef cows in March. 

All animals are watched carefully the first several days to make sure they are nursing and healthy. Lambs stay inside a heated lambing barn for about the first four days, then are moved to another barn depending on their health and the weather conditions. 

“We keep a close watch on all the livestock as they grow and as the seasons change. The health of the livestock is the most important factor we deal with,” said D.J.  “We give vaccinations as the livestock get older to prevent sickness that could occur as they grow. We always make sure the livestock have a balanced diet and we supplement mineral.”

Ensuring that young animals are protected from extreme temperatures and winds is a top priority, and the Busemans use a combination of barns and shelter to make sure calves stay warm and dry until the weather cooperates and they are strong enough to be outdoors. 

For D.J., the hard work and long hours of calving and lambing season pays off as the animals grow.

“The most rewarding part of raising livestock is seeing the babies grow and change over the course of the year,” he said.  “You work hard to get them up and going in the cold, then get to see the progress through the green grass of the summer.”

IMG_0450.jpgBecause the Busemans sell both bulls and bucks (male sheep) to other farmers for breeding in their own herds and flocks, they also get feedback on how those animals perform 

“When customers call and tell us how happy they are with the calves out of our bulls, or how well their lambs grew out of my bucks, it makes it even more worth it,” he said. 

Continuing the family tradition of farming is important to D.J. He lives on the farm where his grandparents live and his dad grew up, and now has the opportunity to work with his father every day.

“A rewarding part about farming is working outside and alongside my dad on the farm that he has worked to keep going his entire life,” said D.J.  “There will always be challenges in farming and ranching. I think it is important to eliminate risk where you can, and have faith that the Lord takes care of you in situations that are out of your control.” 

Fri, 08 Mar 2019 09:14:00 -0600
Being a South Dakota Dairy Ambassador IMG7756140329640158941.jpgBy: Angel Kasper 

Although I didn’t grow up on a dairy farm my love for it started at a young age. As a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was tag along with my dad and grandpa when they went to visit my uncles dairy farm. I loved talking to cows, feeding the calves, and playing in the hayloft. 

When I was old enough to help out at the dairy I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to learn more about what went into dairy farming and of course, spend more time with the cows. While working on the farm I learned how to milk, detect sickness in our livestock, administer medication, and so much more. 


I look back at my experience helping out on the dairy farm and I took away much more than just learning how to milk a cow. I learned about passion and love for an industry as I watched my uncles Danny and Mike continue to devote themselves day after day to their farm and their beloved cows. I learned about the bond a farmer can have with his animals and the sacrifice that goes into taking care of them. I learned about tradition when my uncles would teach me about farming practices passed from one generation to the next. I learned about pride and being proud of producing a clean wholesome product. Being on the dairy farm taught me so much more than just farming, it taught me to love what you do! I loved the experience that I had working on the dairy, but being able to work with such great role models and farmers made it even better. 


This past year I had the opportunity to serve as a one of the first five South Dakota Dairy Ambassador. I served alongside Katelyn Groetsch, Nelson, Sanne De Bruijn, and Jenna Van Wyk. We were chosen to travel all over the state representing the industry we all loved so much, dairy. We attended a variety of different events from Central Plains Dairy Expo to the South Dakota State Fair, to the very first Dairy Experience Forum. At these events, we had the opportunity to grow our knowledge of the dairy industry, but also talk to multiple consumers about dairy farms and the products they produce. 


While serving as an ambassador, I not only grew my passion for the dairy industry butalso found what I loved to do, advocate for agriculture. Throughout the year, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of people from consumers and producers, to my fellow ambassadors, to our advisors Tracey Erickson and Tom Peterson. Because of the many conversations about dairy that I had, I learned how to share the story of agriculture in a positive light.


For me being an ambassador wasn’t about just getting to travel all over South Dakota to the many events. It was about sharing the story of agriculture and the many amazing men and women within it. It was being able to talk to consumers about my love for the dairy industry and the wholesome products that come from it. Being able to answer their questions and help put their mind at ease about the products they were buying was a highlight of my experience because I knew they were able to make a more informed decision about the products they were putting on their tables.

I am so thankful for the opportunities and experiences growing up on a farm gave me. Working on the dairy farm not only grew my love and passion for the dairy industry; it grew my story in agriculture. Being an ambassador helped me learn how to share that story. 


Listen to this weeks Farmers Daughter radio segment: SD Farm Families - Farmer's Daughter Feb4th.mp3

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 11:42:00 -0600
January Agvocates We would like to thank Kevin Scott for participating in the Harrisburg Family Stem Festival at Horizon Elementary. At this event, Kevin taught students about the use of technology in agriculture. We would also like to thank Richard and Joyce Vasgaard for helping us with our Rapid City school visits. Next month our volunteers have a busy month planned with visits to 50 classrooms across South Dakota! 
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 11:23:00 -0600