Remembering Richard Ekstrum’s contributions to South Dakota agriculture

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Farm Forum

Huron, SD – Agriculture lost a long-time friend recently with the passing of Richard Ekstrum, who served as president of South Dakota Farm Bureau from 1975 to 1995. He will be remembered as a visionary leader of Farm Bureau and a tireless advocate for all of agriculture.

“Richard was a strong leader for the Farm Bureau organization, taking it from near financial ruin to being a powerful, prosperous voice for agriculture,” Scott VanderWal comments. “He was a great mentor, a personal friend, and someone who always set a good example for young agricultural leaders. His wisdom and enthusiasm for agriculture will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Richard was an early adopter of modern farming practices, including housing hogs indoors and using artificial insemination in beef cattle. In 1962, he was named “Outstanding Young Farmer.” In the late 1960s Richard helped found the South Dakota Pork Producers Council and in the early 1970s was part of the effort to organize the Aurora-Brule Rural Water System, serving as chairman for more than 40 years.

During his 20-year tenure as president of SDFB, Richard served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board for 10 years, 3 of those on the executive board. He served on advisory committees to three U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture, traveling extensively to over 40 countries. In 2003, Richard was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, later serving on its board and as its president for several years. He and his wife, Agnes, started the SDFB Scholarship Fund in 2005, which has thus far gifted $28,000 in college scholarships to children of Farm Bureau members.

Richard, age 83, was laid to rest on Sept. 15 in his hometown of Kimball. Grateful for having shared his life are Agnes, his wife of 53 years, and their daughters Lori and Marcee.