Jerry Schmitz, a Vermillion soybean farmer and former President of the South Dakota Soybean Association (SDSA) is the new executive director of the SDSA and South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (SDSRPC).
“In this new role, I will continue to work for South Dakota’s soybean growers,” said Schmitz, who has been actively involved with SDSA for nearly 40 years, serving as a charter member of the organization. “Even though times are tough in agriculture today, I am energized by opportunities transpiring around the globe, as well as domestically for South Dakota’s soybean growers. And, I’m eager to work with the farmer-leaders of SDSA and SDSRPC to grow opportunities.”
With extensive leadership experience and passion for South Dakota’s soybean industry, directors of both organizations say Schmitz will provide exceptional leadership for South Dakota’s soybean farmers.
“Jerry understands the issues firsthand. He’s a farmer, like us, so he is able to connect with farmers, which is very important to achieving the mission of what our member-based organization does,” said John Horter, a farmer from Andover and SDSA president.
Schmitz will provide leadership for both SDSA and SDSRPC. The two South Dakota soybean groups are designed to support South Dakota soybean growers.
SDSRPC is South Dakota’s soybean checkoff organization and focuses on increasing opportunities for South Dakota soybean farmers by wisely investing checkoff dollars in marketing, research, education and promotional initiatives.
Because checkoff funds cannot be used for legislative activities, SDSA is the member-organization that represents soybean farmers on legislative policy issues.
Although SDSRPC and SDSA are funded and governed separately, the organizations do share staff and are united in the overarching goal of helping South Dakota soybean growers thrive.
Brookings farmer and SDSRPC Chairman, Craig Converse says Schmitz’s experience will serve as a catalyst to drive the organizations forward and advance the checkoff’s strategic goals.
“Jerry has a long history of supporting South Dakota Soybean organizations and has demonstrated his commitment to serving the farmers of South Dakota,” Converse said. “Jerryhas both the experience of serving as a leader on the South Dakota Soybean Association board and an understanding of the current challenges facing South Dakota soybean producers. With Jerry’s close ties to agriculture in South Dakota and his past leadership experience, our organizations will have an executive director who can work on research and promotional efforts for increasing the production and demand of our soybeans.”
More about Jerry Schmitz
A third-generation Vermillion farmer, Jerry Schmitz began advocating for agriculture as an FFA member. He served on the 1974-75 South Dakota State FFA Officer team while attending South Dakota State University where he received a degree in agriculture education. After college, he returned to his family’s farm. He reflects that beginning his farming career in the 1980s, wasn’t easy, but he didn’t consider any other options.
“The only time I was away from the farm for an extended period was during college and I sensed something was missing from my life. There is just something about witnessing the cycle of life daily – whether with crops or livestock or wildlife – that is just awe inspiring and fulfilling,” Schmitz said. “Those experiences, including the adversity, are life lessons that mold our character and make us rich.”
“Our organizations have tremendously talented people leading them. I’m eager to see what innovative ideas and opportunities leaders and staff will develop together. Looking ahead, the sky is the limit for opportunity. That is what draws me to this new role,” Schmitz said.