JAN. 12, 2016 - VOL. 51 No. 4

Chair's Column
New Members
Member Anniversaries
Cover Story
Other News
Faces & Places
Ribbon Cuttings
Print Advertisers


Celebrating agriculture
Agri-Business Citizen of the Year
Farm Family of the Year
Sale of Champions


Celebrating agriculture

Each year the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business Division recognizes a Farm Family of the Year and an Agri-Business Citizen(s) of the Year. A subcommittee of the Agri-Business Division nominates deserving families and agri-business citizens to be considered for the award and the entire Agri-Business Council chooses the winners.

For 2016, the Chamber is honoring the Brad and Monica Nussbaum Family of Garretson, S.D., as the Farm Family of the Year. Bill Evans, who retired from The First National Bank in Sioux Falls at the Dell Rapids branch, is the Agri-Business Citizen of the Year. Both the Nussbaums and Evans will be recognized at the Mayor´s Round-Up & Sale of Champions at the Sioux Empire Farm Show and at the Agri-Business Division Annual Meeting in the spring. The Farm Family also shares their expertise by sitting on the Chamber´s Agri-Business Division Council for a year.

Each year in January, area agricultural producers and the members of the Sioux Falls area business community gather to participate in a variety of events that highlight the importance of agriculture in the region. This year marks the 63rd Anniversary of the Chamber-sponsored Sioux Empire Farm Show. As a $17 billion industry in South Dakota, agriculture definitely impacts the Sioux Falls area economy. More than 30,000 people attend the Sioux Empire Farm Show each year, with an estimated economic impact of $3 million.

The Sioux Empire Farm Show is one of several ag-related events hosted in Sioux Falls each year. It is hailed as one of the largest feeder steer shows in the nation. Six breeds of cattle compete for the $12,000 Supreme Row purse. The show features the best regional market livestock shows and sales and plenty of commercial exhibits.

Since 1998, the Chamber has partnered with Midwest Shows, Inc., for the commercial exhibitor farm show events. Headquartered in Austin, Minn., Midwest Shows sells commercial exhibit space for the show. The commercial exhibit portion of the two shows is called the "Sioux Falls Farm Show," with both shows being featured as "Sioux Falls Salute to Agriculture." The Sioux Falls Farm Show exhibits are a three-day show.

In addition to the numerous purebred and market shows that take place during the week, the Chamber also sponsors several special events:

The $12,000 Supreme Row competition is sponsored by the Tri-State Neighbor (gold), Wells Fargo Bank (silver), and Campbell Supply Co. (bronze). This competition is for purebred cattle. The purse is split between the buyer and the consignor of the animal that places at the top in this highly competitive best of all breeds award of both the bulls and heifers.

Since 1998, Sioux Falls´ very own Mayor has participated in the Sale of Champions. For several decades now, the Sioux Falls business community has supported area producers by bidding on the best livestock from the Farm Show and paying a premium to the producers. The top market steers, market swine, market lambs and market goats are featured in this fun event.

The success of the Farm Show is directly related to the efforts of several area businesses, individuals and producers who devote their time and talents. The Sioux Empire Farm Show recognizes the many ways agriculture has impacted the economy, local citizens and the entire community.

For more information about the Sioux Empire Farm Show, contact Chamber Agri-Business Division Manager Cindy Christensen at (605) 373-2016 or visit

For a complete schedule of activities, see pg. 27. More information about the Farm Show can also be found at

[Back to Top]

Evans recognized for service to ag industry

By Amy Smolik
Marketing & Communications Manager

Bill Evans
Bill Evans

Bill Evans uses three words to summarize his 30-year banking career: family, change and relationships. Evans retired from The First National Bank in Sioux Falls at the end of 2015. An ag lender, Evans was proud to close out his professional career working on the main street of his hometown Dell Rapids. He was named the Agri-Business Citizen of the Year by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business Division.

Evans didn´t set out to be an ag lender, however; he grew up on the family farm southeast of Dell Rapids and went to South Dakota State University where he studied animal science production and economics with the intention of returning to the family farm. Evans met his wife, Gayla, at SDSU and after graduating they returned to the Dell Rapids area where he and his brother farmed with their parents for 10 years, raising hogs, cows and corn and beans.

In January 1985, the Evans family decided to discontinue their farm operation. Evans said extreme weather conditions and high operating costs contributed to their decision.

Evans thoroughly enjoyed working side-by-side with his wife, a Canistota native who was as much of a farmer as he was. "I miss farming with my wife – we worked well as a team," he said. "We could talk the same language and we both loved it. We had our personal and business life wrapped into one."

Change provides opportunities, Evans believes. When telling their banker of the family´s decision to exit farming, Evans was offered a job on the other side of the desk. This started a three-decade career in the industry, where he worked in Garretson, Brookings, Flandreau and back in his hometown.

"To this day, I miss farming. I can smell the fresh dirt in the spring and the harvest dust in the fall," he said.

Hometown: Dell Rapids, S.D.

Professional: Vice President/Ag Banker with The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids branch, retired in December 2015

Education: Dell Rapids High School, South Dakota State University

Family: Wife Gayla, who works at EROS Data Center; son Justin (Jessica), who is an engineer at Adams Thermal Systems and live in Dell Rapids with their children: Ryler, Kale, Breck, Myelle and Jett; daughter Billie (Ryan) Rothenberger, a math teacher at Washington High School, who live in Sioux Falls with their children: Rylie and Alexa

Community Involvement: different committees with the Lutheran Church of Dell Rapids, hospital advisory board, Dell Rapids High School Booster Club, Member of the "Chain Gang" for Dell Rapids home football games, Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Evans adjusted well to his new role as an ag banker. He noticed his dialogue with neighbors changed once they became customers to now include conversations about plans and changes in the industry. Ag lending in the 1980s was an education, Evans said, as the ag crisis created tough times. Evans´ interest in numbers and his background in economics prepared him for the new challenges.

Working in the ag industry for more than 30 years, both as a banker and a farmer, Evans believes that change is the constant. More years ago than he can remember, Evans found a quote in a magazine about change that he carries around with him as a reminder; it reads:

"Change. This word will either get you out, push you ahead or weigh you down. The word is easy to pronounce, however, when spoken in a room of people, it can be a threat, order or crazy idea. Change is not easy. People seldom change their thinking, habits or preferences on their own. It is time consuming, frustrating and also inevitable."

A favorite conversation starter from the last few years were the assortment of ears of corn from different years on his desk, which he started collecting in 2009. Each ear had a story to tell about the growing conditions from their respective years.

"The ears show me that each year is unique," he said. "We need to plan but also understand that there can be a lot of variance."

In Evans´ opinion, a key asset in the banking world is relationships. His love of working with people allowed him to constantly adapt as technology changed the way bankers and farmers do business. Cell phones and state-of-the-art equipment allow farmers to call their bankers while they´re working in the fields, whereas a few decades ago they tended to only do banking on rainy days or in the off-season.

"Back then, relationships were developed with customers on a a face-to-face meeting," he said. "Now they can call us from anywhere and it can be harder to make those connections. Due to the changes in technology, we may have to work a little harder to develop and grow these relationships."

Evans believes he "fell into" the perfect career for him, which enabled him to build relationships with a great number of people over the years while still being a part of the ag industry.

"Each person has a unique story, which creates a unique relationship," he said.

Family remains the central part of his life – Evans considered his co-workers to be his "work" family. He said he was very humbled that they nominated him for the Agri-Business Citizen of the Year award.

"I´m just a member of our ag department team. It takes a collective effort to accomplish things and I´m proud of the great team I´ve been part of," he said. He´s also proud to have closed out his career with The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, a family-run bank that Evans believes has strong family values.

Now that he´s retired, Evans is excited to spend more time in his role as "Papa" to his seven grandchildren, who live close to home.

Family, change, relationships – Evans believes it´s been a good recipe for a great life so far and he´s ready for the next stage. "I´m blessed," he said.

[Back to Top]

Nussbaum family honored for ag promotion

By Amy Smolik
Marketing & Communications Manager

Nussbaums named Farm Family of the YearBrad and Monica Nussbaum, Daughters Brittany (Kyle) Lessman and Stephanie (fiancé Brett Tighe)

In the early morning of June 22, 2015, a major storm ripped through Garretson, S.D. Brad and Monica Nussbaum argue that it was a tornado but the official pronouncement was straight-line winds. The Nussbaums rode out the storm in their first floor bathroom´s bathtub, with nothing but sofa cushions to protect them from any debris. The house remained standing, however; the four-foot deep concrete columns on the house´s front porch may have been what kept their home from blowing away.

The damage from the storm was intense – picking up round hay bales weighing 1,800 pounds and dropping them into evergreen trees several fields away, for example. The Nussbaums lost their hip roof barn, had major damage to the freestyle barn and sustained damage to the new milking barn, among other items that were damaged or completely destroyed.

A storm can wreak havoc by destroying property, adjusting plans and rearranging priorities. Within weeks, though, they were revamping their long-term business plan for Cottonwood Ridge Dairy. For the Nussbaums, the storm may have changed their timeline but didn´t dampen their spirits. Their continued promotion of the ag industry is one of the reasons the Nussbaums were named the Farm Family of the Year by the Agri-Business Division of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

In the weeks following the storm, the Nussbaums started clean-up of the farm. They temporarily discontinued tours of their milking operation but still attended the Governor´s 2015 Agricultural Summit in the Black Hills and celebrated Brittany´s wedding, both held in July 2015 weeks after the storm.

Brad and oldest daughter Brittany were part of a panel discussion on opportunities for ag producers at the Ag Summit. The Nussbaums shared the story of how they built their robotic milking operation from the ground up - the first newly-built operation of its kind in South Dakota.

"You´ve gotta laugh," Monica said about the chaos following the storm. Brad and Brittany were asked a number of questions following their presentation at the Ag Summit. The only question that really stumped them was "What is your five-year plan?" The Nussbaums had to throw their plan out the window following the storm and essentially compacted their five-year plan for the dairy into about three months. A new machine shed with a commodity shed was not part of the plan but was added. They intended to replace the hip roof barn - but it was supposed to be a ways down the road. They wanted to save the freestall barn that was attached but were unable to do so because of damage. They also had some repairs they needed to make to the dairy barn - the 16-foot overhood door was twisted like a Tootsie Roll wrapper, about 50 feet into the feed alley.

When Brad and Monica started their dairy and crop farm east of Garretson in 1981, they couldn´t have anticipated the changes that they´d make on the farm that Brad´s dad Richard Nussbaum started in 1960.

Hometown: Garretson, S.D.

Education: Brittany and Stephanie are graduates of South Dakota State University

Over the years the couple continued to update the farm, which includes dairy cows, beef cattle and crops. Their two daughters, Brittany and Stephanie, wanted to continue in the family farming operation. They grew up showing cattle and participating in FFA and the World Dairy Expo. Throughout college, both girls continued to help on the farm. Oldest daughter Brittany graduated from SDSU in 2008-09 at the start of the national recession. At that time, she didn´t feel it was prudent to break into farming on her own or to expand the family´s operation.

The four Nussbaums opted to wait out the recession but began making plans for how they would expand their operation. They initially looked at parlor barns. By the time Stephanie graduated from SDSU in 2011, they had a direction they wanted to go after touring numerous barns: robotics. In May 2013 they started construction on the new dairy barn. In March 2014 their cows moved into the new state-of-the-art robotic milking barn.

Being environmentally-friendly, looking to the future for potential expansion of the robotic dairy and ensuring the comfort of the cows were all forefront in their planning. The barn enables the family to milk, feed and house approximately 120 dairy cows all under one roof. The south wall has tinted clear panels to allow in light and reflect heat; the north wall has clear panels to allow in natural light, eliminating the need for many overhead lights. Cows have free range within the barn and rest on waterbeds. The temperature is consistent 12 months out of the year, helped partially by fans on the east and west walls that adjust to the weather.

Rather than building a lagoon that would have expanded the barn´s footprint and affected expansion, the manure pit is under the barn in a 12-foot deep concrete pit that can store waste before it is pumped out. Slats in the floor collect the waste, which is then later used as organic fertilizer for the crops. They´re able to extract enough nitrogen to cover about 300 acres of corn.

They have separate rooms within the barn for expectant mothers, newborn calves and milk storage. Two robotic milkers serve the herd. Two additional robots assist as well – one with cleaning the floors and one with distributing feed, assuring that the there is a constant supply of food and that the barn remains clean.

Workforce is a challenge in the ag industry as well and also played a role in determining their expansion plan into robotics. The Nussbaums said they struggled finding good help to assist with their dairy operation. A traditional dairy farm is time and labor intensive. The cows need to be monitored and milked regularly. The robotic operation still needs outside help – but workers need to be able to more than just clean and put out feed. Some of those traditional labor tasks have been delegated to robots. Both Brittany and Stephanie say their education at SDSU prepared them for the technological tools they use and the ability to interpret the data.

The data they´re able to capture allows them to better provide for the cows, too. Each cow has a collar with a transponder on it - a "FitBit" for cows. This ensures that each cow is getting the nutrients for her individual needs (cows are also fed while they´re being milked) and the Nussbaums can manage each individual cow´s health status, milking history and breeding cycle. The data can be pulled up on large monitors in the office inside the dairy barn or the Nussbaums can view it on their phones or receive alerts if data differs from the norm. Milking frequency, milk production, activity and feeding history are just some of the things captured by the transponder - there are 140 points of data collected on each cow. They know more about the health of the cows than people know about their own health, they say.

The Nussbaums joked that when it came to attending functions like weddings, they performed a "relay" attendance schedule so that everyone could participate – just not at the same time. The robotic milking facility has enabled them to spend more time as a family outside the barn. The family hopes to grow Cottonwood Ridge Dairy for future generations. They don´t anticipate any tornados for Stephanie´s April 2016 wedding, but have learned to be prepared for anything - and that they can survive anything.

[Back to Top]


Why should you participate in the Sale of Champions?

Return to your agricultural roots or learn more about one of South Dakota´s largest industries. Either way, you can enjoy the camaraderie of hundreds of folks from Sioux Falls area businesses. Get together with your friends and co-workers for a great prime rib dinner and to support agriculture.

Local Recognition

When you purchase livestock at the Mayor´s Round-Up & Sale of Champions, your company will be recognized in the Argus Leader, Tri-State Neighbor and Chamber News magazine. Business representatives who bid on the Grand and Reserve Champions and 3rd place market livestock for each animal species will have their photos included.

Support the Visitor Industry

The growing Sioux Empire Farm Show draws exhibitors from more than 20 states and brings more than 30,000 people to Sioux Falls annually. An estimated $3 million is brought into the greater community through the five-day show.

Support the Agricultural Industry

Agriculture is South Dakota´s No. 1 industry, generating annual revenues of $20.9 billion. By participating, you show your support for the regional agricultural community.

Support the Sioux Empire Farm Show

The Sale of Champions is a big incentive for producers to attend the Sioux Empire Farm Show. In 2015, more than $80,000 was paid out to 25 market livestock producers in cash awards and bids. By showing financial support yourself or through your business, you are able to support agriculture and promote the region´s largest market and purebred livestock show. A successful Sale of Champions encourages these livestock producers to return to the Sioux Empire Farm Show.

Mayor's Round-Up &
Sale of Champions

Friday, Jan. 29
Best Western PLUS
Ramkota Exhibit Hall

5:30 p.m. Social
6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. Program/Auction

Cost: Individual tickets are
$45/per person
with reserved tables of eight,
includes prime rib dinner

RSVP to Valerie Willson or call
(605) 373-2010.

How does the Sale
of Champions Work?

Buyers who participate in the Mayor´s Round-Up & Sale of Champions are paying a premium to the market livestock producer - which means you are not purchasing the animal on which you are bidding. This dollar amount is in addition to the market price they receive for their animal. The Sioux Empire Farm Show is a terminal show so all livestock sold at the Mayor´s Round-Up & Sale of Champions will go to slaughter.

Livestock is auctioned by the head. This means the dollar amount you bid is the dollar amount you pay. Livestock can be purchased by cooperative bidders. Partnering with another business is a great way to bump up the premiums for the producers.

All buyers at the Mayor´s Round-Up & Sale of Champions will get their photos taken with the producers and the animals and will receive the commemorative photos at an appreciation banquet later in the year.

[Back to Top]

Advertising Opportunity

Join the Chamber of Commerce

Members Only Section


Copyright © 2016 Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service.

  Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce CoSentry