SDSPA Hosts Annual Membership Meeting

SDSPA 2022 Board Members gathered at annual members meeting in Ft. Pierre.

The 2022 SDSPA Annual Membership Meeting took place at Drifters Convention Center in Ft. Pierre, SD on March 15, 2022.  New and returning members were able to enjoy networking in person, learning on an array of topics, and having round table discussions to expand on these ideas. 

The day began with brief presentations on topics.  Jessica Michalski & Colette Kellser of NRCS gave a summary of NRCS EQUIP Program, and other updates relevant for specialty crop producers. They are hiring for an Urban Agriculture position, who will assist specialty crop producers as well. 

Brian Pontious & Tim Schoonhoven gave presentation updates on the S.D. Dept. of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Specialty Crop Block Grants. Chair of the legislative action committee, Jeff Stewart, updated attendees on bills relevant to producers, including agritourism liability and cottage food law changes. Cheri Rath of Value Added Ag Center gave an overview of the Value Added Producer Grant. 

After a lunch from Drifter’s, the annual membership meeting provided an overview of what projects SDSPA has completed over the past year, and what opportunities there are for involvement with projects going forward.  

Michael Gubbles (Good Life Farms), Kristein Reiner (Cash Cow Marketing) Cheri Rath (Value Added Ag Center) and Bob Weyrich (S.D. Small Business Development Center) joined the SDSPA board. Kyle Cox, Cox’s Farm Stand was elected Vice President. The other Executive Team positions will remain the same with Cindy Tolle, Evergreen Ranching & Livestock, President; Peggy Martin, Cedar Creek Gardens, Treasurer; and Casey Burrus, Secretary. For the full board listing visit our website.

Rebecca Long, with the Department of Labor, co-presented with Michelle Grosek (Bear Butte Gardens) on how Michelle worked with Rebecca to develop their apprenticeship program, and what they have learned from their experience.  During this presentation, they shared the value of creating these programs, and suggestions for success.  

Our final presentation of the day was Clark Guthmiller, USDA Rural Development, who provided an overview of the USDA REAP Program. 

The afternoon included roundtable discussions, which allowed speakers, members, and board members to visit in smaller groups on an array of topics.  Groups rotated through discussions on agritourism, education & tours, organic production, legislative action, aggregation & grant opportunities. 

Members who missed the event can request a recorded copy of the meeting.