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SD Ag Secretary Urges Youth To Come Home

Thursday, June 19, 2014

By Rob Nielsen 

The tone of the ninth annual Yankton Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Gala was simple — there’s a bright future for South Dakota agriculture and a reason for youth to return to the state.


Keynote speaker, S.D. Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, told gala attendees that it’s time to stop telling young people in ag families to leave the state.


“All we’ve been doing for generations now is telling our children to leave get away from South Dakota and make something of their lives,” Lentsch said. “I’m here to tell you, the closer you are to agriculture, the closer you are to an existence that is worth living. It’s good, it’s honest, it’s hard work and at the end of the day you see the results of your labor. At the end of the year you see your family involved. Those are all wonderful things.”


As secretary, Lentsch said he’s seen a lot of people coming back because the state’s number one industry has become more profitable in recent years.


“It’s been exciting this last decade seeing all the young families coming back home to rural South Dakota,” he said. “The reason is because there is money to be made in agriculture. Profit is not a dirty word, but it still takes work.”


Lentsch that agriculture is continually investing in the rural areas of the state, even at a global level.


“The long and short of it is in agriculture, there is opportunity,” he said. “When we talk about South Dakota continuing to invest in rural South Dakota  — and we’re all part of it — is agriculture. And when you look at the rural economy, sometimes we wonder, ‘Where is it at? Is it coming?’ It’s here. Later this year we get to enjoy the grand opening of a state-of-the-art French-owned cheese plant in Brookings, South Dakota.”


He added that there’s still a need for local involvement in agriculture.

“Agriculture is continuing to evolve — it never stands still,” he said. “The opportunities exist the platform and the community embracement to make that a possibility. One of the best things about my job is I get to travel the state and visit with different communities. What might be working well in Harding County might be completely different than what happens in Roberts County, or Yankton County, but that’s your choice. That’s part of the excitement of living in a state like South Dakota where local control is what we run to. We embrace it and we want you to do what’s good for you and your communities.”


He also highlighted the need for powerful minds in the business and how it goes beyond just crops.

“We need the best minds that we can have working in and around agriculture,” he said. “It’s diversity — it isn’t all just about corn or soy beans; it isn’t all just about beef cattle or dairy cattle or pigs — there’s so many unique value added opportunities that make innovation possible. If you’re one of those people that have a creative idea, talk to somebody about it and keep looking at your alternatives because that’s how you make a difference, not only in your community, but in your state and the industry that you’re here to serve.”


Lentsch ended off the evening by thanking both the present generation of ag industry participants in attendance as well as the next.


“If you’re one of the generations that have been here your entire life and you have tended to your crops and you’ve tended to your community — thank you,” he said. “And if you’re the next generation that’s here, maybe picking up tables, or thinking about moving home, thank you for being willing to look at a future in agriculture because the future is very bright.”


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