$1.5M ag endowment announced

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Farm Forum

In one of his final acts as South Dakota secretary of agriculture, Lucas Lentsch announced a new endowment focused on investing in the future of agriculture while speaking to Redfield High School students on Tuesday morning.

The announcement was in conjunction with National Agriculture Day.

The endowment will begin with $1.5 million raised in the next five years. According to a news release from the South Dakota Community Foundation, the money will be used to support initiatives for:

• Workforce development.

• Industry development and diversification.

• Working lands conservation.

• Promotion of and service to agriculture.

• Tackling unaddressed issues.

• Supporting existing programs.

“There’s just not enough resources to go around,” Lentsch said in a visit to the American News on Tuesday afternoon. “A number of organizations are looking for financial support, and a number of folks are looking to the state or to leaders within the state to provide solutions.”

The South Dakota Agriculture Foundation will be run under the South Dakota Community Foundation umbrella, according to the release.

While the endeavor has no formal ties to state government or its ag office, Lentsch said he is excited about what means for the future of agriculture in South Dakota.

“This isn’t about government. This isn’t about the governor’s administration nor my secretary post for the Department of Agriculture, but rather, it’s about the industry stepping up and doing some things in advance of the future,” Lentsch said.

He chose Redfield as the announcement site because the endowment is for the youth of the state.

The biggest concern of the South Dakota Agriculture Foundation is workforce development, said Bill Even, advisory council member and commercial unit lead for DuPont Pioneer and a former South Dakota secretary of agriculture.

“Agriculture is the biggest industry in the state of South Dakota,” Even said. “We need to make sure there are others that are going to follow in their footsteps.”

Initial investments have come from First Dakota National Bank, Farm Credit Services of America, Dacotah Bank, Valley Queen Cheese, Legend Seeds and farmers, ranchers and other individual donors, according to the release.

Follow @kgrandstrandAANon Twitter.