I just wanted to give a few notes about Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones who was the speaker at the Union County Fair Dinner tonight as he gave a presentation to several hundred people in attendance.
Walt Bones was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by Governor Dennis Daugaard and officially began his service on January 8, 2011. Walt currently farms, in partnership, with two brothers, a brother-in-law, and three nephews, operating their family farm near Parker homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1879. Walt’s family raises cattle, runs a custom cattle-feeding business, operates a dairy, and raises corn, soybeans, and wheat.
In 1974 Walt graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. For several years Walt has held numerous leadership positions in South Dakota and nationally. He has been active in the National Corn Growers Association, the Midwest Dairy Association, the South Dakota Hereford Association, the South Dakota Cattleman’s Association, the South Dakota Farm Bureau, and a graduate of the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.
For ten years Walt served on the Minnehaha County Planning and Zoning Commission, including three years as chairman. He is currently a member of the South Dakota Agricultural Land Assessment Implementation and Oversight Advisory Task Force, which oversees the new productivity valuation system for taxing agricultural land.
Bones spoke a few minutes tonight about the drought, and how it has hurt South Dakota Producers. As noted in recent news reports, Bones has noted that “the drought is hurting state cattle producers. Watering holes are getting low and there’s going to be a lot of folks that are going to be weaning early,” Bones had told RRFN, “I’ve heard of guys weaning before Labor Day, just to take some of the additional stress off those cows, get those calves in, and get them started.” Bones said he is thankful for the USDA Secretarial declaration, opening up additional CRP acres for haying and grazing.
State Ag Secretary Walt Bones says the South Dakota Drought Task Force activated by Governor Daugaard is taking a two pronged approach focusing on fire suppression and immediate assistance for livestock producers including haying and grazing on CRP.
Secretary Bones is in a unique position this year, having been part of the Governor’s Flood response in 2011, as he worked with Governor Daugaard to warn agriculture producers to prepare for record levels for the Missouri River, and just a year later, is preparing producers for record droughts. The Department of Agriculture manages the incident management team which responded to the flood evacuations and other emergencies last summer.
Significant points in his speech tonight included how for the last three years, unemployment had impacted much of the country, but in the Midwest, especially the Dakotas, we weathered the unemployment wave because of Agriculture. Bones expressed that those in agriculture should not fear technology, but should embrace it – because it makes us more productive.
Currently, every South Dakota farmer on average produces enough to feed his family – and 155 others. Looking at maps that he presented tonight, American agriculture outpaces every other nation on the planet. America truly feeds the world.
We’d like to thank Walt for taking on the position of Secretary of Agriculture, for speaking to our group tonight and for doing his job well, as being our ambassador of South Dakota Agriculture to the world.