South Dakota sure has had a good run of ag secretaries.
Larry Gabriel – the West River rancher and longtime state lawmaker– was great. He really helped grow the livestock industry, especially dairy.
Bill Even – the southeast South Dakota corn and bean farmer – did a fine job.
When Even resigned to take a job with Pioneer, Deputy Secretary Jon Farris was appointed to fill out the term. He would have made a good secretary in his own right.
Walt Bones is the new appointee. He’ll likely do a super job, too. Along with his brother, a brother-in-law and three nephews, Bones operates a family farm near Parker that has been in their family since it was homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1879. They raise cattle; run a custom cattle-feeding business; operate a dairy; and raise corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Bones has held numerous leadership positions in South Dakota and nationally during several decades of service. 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 he is a graduate of the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.
Bones also served for 10 years 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.
That’s quite a pedigree for an ag secretary. He sounds like a perfect fit for South Dakota agriculture.