Producer panel

State conservationist Jeff Zimprich, left, moderates a discussion with a panel of South Dakota producers – Louie Nigg, John Moes and Mark Rilling – at the Governor’s Agricultural Summit in Brookings on June 2.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association recognized people who have done big things for South Dakota agriculture during the organization’s annual meeting Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

The association presented its Most Valuable Player Award to Jeff Zimprich, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of South Dakota. The Excellence in Agriculture Award posthumously recognized the late Al Miron, a former Corn Utilization Council director from Sioux Falls. The association presented its Legislative Leadership Award to State Rep. Kent Peterson of Salem and its Public Outreach Award to Jarrett Renshaw of Reuters news service.

South Dakota Corn also honored seven retiring directors of its boards for their service.

Most Valuable Player in Agriculture – Jeff Zimprich

As head of the South Dakota office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Zimprich provides overall leadership in helping people conserve, maintain and improve natural resources and the environment.

The NRCS and South Dakota Corn have partnered in several programs and projects focused on sustainability and improving soil health. The partners also created a sustainability director position to work with farmers on conservation programs, perform public outreach and conduct research trials.

Zimprich’s 29-year conservation career includes jobs in Montana, Iowa and at NRCS national headquarters. As state conservationist, the South Dakota native has made it a priority to develop and nurture strong relationships with agricultural groups.

Excellence in Agriculture – the late Al Miron

The Corn Growers recognized Miron for his significant contributions to the agriculture industry. Throughout his lifetime, he maintained a strong passion for preservation of soil resources. He was an avid promoter of sustainable practices during more than 45 years of farming.

Miron, who had master’s and doctorate degrees in nutrition, served on the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council’s board of directors. He was a valuable and dependable resource for the organization, as well as an exceptional spokesman for agriculture. He was a champion of soil health up until the day he died Nov. 19, 2017. His family accepted the award.

Legislative Leadership – State Rep. Kent Peterson

Rep. Peterson was honored for his commitment to agriculture and rural South Dakota as a member of the South Dakota Legislature. A fifth-generation farmer, he has a deep understanding of agriculture, which made him a valuable resource during legislative sessions.

Peterson has been a strong advocate for ethanol and spoke at a tractor rally in Sioux Falls that promoted year-round sales of E15 and targeted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who later resigned from that job. He also led legislative efforts to approve the Raven Precision Agriculture Center project at South Dakota State University.

Excellence in Public Outreach – Jarrett Renshaw

This award recognizes an individual who goes the extra mile in spreading agriculture’s story with fairness, accuracy and due diligence. As national energy reporter for Reuters, Renshaw does that and is a well-respected go-to source for breaking news and information. He keeps tabs on what’s happening in Washington, D.C.

In presenting this award, the Corn Growers Association commended Renshaw for his extensive and comprehensive reporting of energy issues, including the ethanol industry that is so important to South Dakota. He has provided thorough coverage of biofuels issues, including the Renewable Fuel Standard and exemptions issued to oil refineries.

Retiring members of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association board: Troy Knecht of Houghton served on the board since 2010 and was president; Keith Alverson of Chester served on the board since 2010 and is past president; Steve Halverson of Pierre served since 2016; Bob Schmidt of Pierre was an industry representative from Farm Credit Services of America; and Mike Nickolas of Aberdeen was an industry representative from Agtegra Cooperative.

Retiring members of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council board: Reno Brueggeman of Miller served the board since 2013 and is past president; Nick Jorgensen of Ideal served on the board since 2014.