The farmer will become the first woman to look after the state’s ag portfolio
By Diego Flammini
A cash crop and livestock farmer from Chamberlain, S.D. will oversee the state’s US$25.6 billion ag portfolio.
Yesterday, Governor-elect Kristi Noem appointed Kim Vanneman as the next Secretary of Agriculture.
Vanneman’s background as a farmer and former member of the state legislature makes her an ideal candidate to head the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, Noem said.
Vanneman “shares my vision to develop the state’s ag economy and give more young people the ability to thrive as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement yesterday. “She’s a life-long producer and a fierce advocate for agriculture. I’m grateful to have her on board.”
The appointment makes Vanneman the first woman to lead the state’s ag department. Women lead seven state ag departments: Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, Missouri, Virginia, Idaho and Florida.
Members of the ag community who know Vanneman are confident she will serve South Dakota producers well.
“We are excited that it’s someone we know, and we think she’ll be well informed,” Lisa Richardson, executive director of South Dakota Corn, told Farms.com.
In terms of the issues facing some producers, getting grain to ports for export is a challenge.
“We only have one Class 1 railroad that can access the Pacific Northwest,” Richardson said. “More railroad infrastructure to allow for more grain exports would be something farmers would welcome.”
Increased use of local grains could also be a priority for the new ag secretary.
Feeding South Dakota cattle local grains would help reduce the need for imports, said Larry Stomprud, past president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.
“Ag development could be something Secretary Vanneman looks at,” he said to Farms.com. “We raise a lot of corn and beans that we export, but we also export a lot of feeder cattle. There’s an opportunity there to use our corn and beans to grow our cattle.”
Top photo: Kim Vanneman