Steve Censky

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky speaks at the Governor’s Ag Summit in Sioux Falls July 10.

South Dakota State University graduate Steve Censky, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Deputy Secretary will be leaving his post Nov. 8 to return to the American Soybean Association as CEO, a position he held for 21 years before coming to USDA in 2017.

“During his tenure as Deputy Secretary, we accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release announcing Censky's departure Sept. 18. “Steve’s roots are in agriculture and he is one of the best and most professional public servants America has.”

Censky visited Sioux Falls as part of the South Dakota Governor's Agricultural Summit last summer, speaking about trade negotiations.

“It has been a true honor to serve my country on behalf of American agriculture. These past few years have seen tremendous developments, and I am humbled to have served a role in implementing a Farm Bill, launching the USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, supporting America’s farmers against trade retaliation, and now assisting farmers and ranchers and feeding families affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” Censky said in a statement.

A native of Jackson, Minnesota, he began his career working as a legislative assistant for Sen. Jim Abdnor, R-S.D. Later he served in both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations at the USDA, eventually serving as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service where he was involved in running export programs.

Censky received his bachelor's degree in agriculture from SDSU and his postgraduate diploma in agriculture science from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He and his wife Carmen have two daughters.