Jerry Schmitz

Newly elected president of the South Dakota Soybean Association, Jerry Schmitz of Vermillion, poses outside of the Ag Outlook convention in Sioux Falls. Schmitz was president when the state association first formed.

This year’s Ag Outlook, the annual event of South Dakota Soybean, will be a chance for farmers to put a difficult season behind them and look forward to next year.

The Ag Outlook trade show and conference will take place Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Best Western Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls. Speakers throughout the day will touch on next year’s weather outlook and market trends and provide a bit of levity.

“It’s a time that hopefully harvest is done and we can take a little time to decompress,” said Jerry Schmitz, Vermillion farmer and executive director of the South Dakota Soybean Association.

The program’s theme is “visions for tomorrow.”

New at Ag Outlook this year is a women’s program, held at the Best Western Ramkota Amphitheater II. For an hour and half Thursday morning, the focus will be on women farmers and women in agriculture. Learn about Annie’s Project, a program geared toward women that teaches farm finances and aspects of farm and ranch management. Bob Farmer will give a brief outlook, and mental health experts will talk about dealing with farm stress and recognizing signs of depression in others.

“We hear about the stresses that farmers are under. Rather than going right to the farmer, we want to go through family members,” Schmitz said.

The evening before the Ag Outlook conference, the South Dakota Soybean Association will hold its annual meeting at the Best Western Ramkota Amphitheater I. Instead of the awards banquet that usually follows, there will be a social with a few speakers and more informal opportunity to network with others in agriculture. The theme for the evening is “uniting agriculture.”

“It’s nice to get everybody together,” said Jeff Thompson, a Colton farmer who will be starting his second year as president of the South Dakota Soybean Association board.

He’s especially pleased to see the number of young producers stepping up to take leadership roles in the association.

At the social, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman will talk about the importance of ag groups working together. Steve Westra, commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will talk as well. Board members and executives from South Dakota Soybean and other ag groups are expected to be there, and Schmitz said it will be a good time to connect and hopefully spur some collaboration.

“A number of ag groups say we should do more things together, but everyone is busy,” he said, adding that the evening social gives them a dedicated but informal time to connect.

The event runs 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Best Western Ramkota Washington and Lincoln Rooms. The social is free to attend, but those planning to attend are asked to registration online at or 605-330-9942.

The next day’s activities start with a breakfast hosted by Ag Outlook sponsor Calyxt in the Best Western Ramkota Amphitheatre I. The company is contracting South Dakota farmers to grow its high oleic soybean variety. Calyxt representatives will talk about joining the “journey toward healthy foods and healthy premiums” while attendees enjoy a breakfast menu prepared with the heart-healthy oil.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the breakfast, and no pre-registration is required. One lucky attendee will get a $500 gift card.

The trade show with about 70 exhibitor booths at the Best Western Ramkota Exhibit Hall runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for both farmers and exhibitors to exchange ideas, for exhibitors to present new technology and new seeds,” Schmitz said.

Event sponsor Asgrow will highlight the Bayer Plus Rewards Program at its booth, and growers can sign up for the new reward program there. The booth will also feature Climate Field View programs including Seed Advisor, Variable Rate Prescriptions, and the “Try it for Free” program for new subscribers.

The late planting season and the inability of many farmers to plant at all prompted the soybean board to cancel this year’s yield contest.

“This spring, as we saw prevented plant acres and difficulties, we decided to put this on hold another year,” Schmitz said. “It’s one of those years where you make extreme decisions.”

Instead of the award banquet that usually follows the board’s annual meeting, three annual awards will be presented before guest speakers during Thursday’s program. They are the Visionary Leadership Award, Dedicated & Distinguished, and Soybean Advocate of the Year.

The day ends with announcement of winning bidders from the SoyPAC silent auction, a drawing for three $500 Visa gift cards, and a social hour from 4-5 p.m. For more information call, the South Dakota Soybean office at 605-330-9942.

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Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor