JUNE 4, 2018 - VOL. 54 No. 8

Chair's Column
New Members
Member Anniversaries
Cover Story
Other News
Faces & Places
Ribbon Cuttings
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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 voting members of the Agri-Business Council choose the winners.

For 2017, the Chamber is honoring the Sweeter Family of Worthing, S.D., as the Farm Family of the Year. Evan Nolte, who will soon retire from his position as President & CEO of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, is the Agri-Business Citizen of the Year. Both the Sweeters and Nolte 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 participating in the Chamber´s Agri-Business Division Council for a year.

Each year in January, area agricultural producers and 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 64th Anniversary of the Chamber-sponsored Sioux Empire Farm Show. More than 30,000 people attend the Sioux Empire Farm Show each year, and the event has an estimated economic impact of $3 million. As a $25.6 billion industry in South Dakota, agriculture has an ongoing impact on the Sioux Falls area economy.

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 region. 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.

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. For several decades, 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 during the Sale of Champions. The Sioux Empire Farm Show recognizes the many ways agriculture has impacted the economy, local citizens and the entire community.

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Sweeter family honored as 2017 Farm Family of the Year

By Lura Roti
For the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

The 2017 Farm Family of the Year.

The sun isn´t shining and South Dakota winds are gusting, but that doesn´t seem to faze cousins Bode Sweeter, 6, and Kade Sweeter, 4, who are goofing around in a pickup bed while their parents and grandpa work cattle.

It´s the first Saturday in December and three generations of Sweeters are gathered to pregnancy check a group of heifers on their farm just outside of Worthing.

"There´s no better place to raise kids than on a farm. Here they have room to play and run around and we don´t have to worry about them getting into trouble," says Grandpa Ken Sweeter, 66.

Agreeing with the fourth-generation farmer, his daughter-in-law, Wendy, 36, added, "I enjoyed growing up on a farm and liked the way of life, so I´m glad our kids have some of the same opportunities we did. They get to be around animals, do chores and develop a good work ethic."

Wendy grew up on a farm near Hartford. The agriculture journalist met Ken´s son, Kurtis, 36, when they were both students at South Dakota State

University and judging together on the collegiate meat judging team.

Although they didn´t meet until college, the couple share many similar childhood memories. Growing up on South Dakota farms in the ´90s they were both 4-H and FFA members and spent time showing and judging livestock at area county fairs as well as the Sioux Empire Fair and Sioux Empire Farm Show.

After they married, returning to Kurtis´ family farm to start their life together made sense. Actively involved in his family´s farm since childhood, it was Kurtis´ goal to return home after college and farm with his dad and younger brother, Mike. "Farming gets ingrained in you. There´s just something about being able to work out in the dirt and with cattle - getting dirty and seeing calves born, crops grow and see what you care for do well," explained Kurtis, who received his master´s in meat science in 2004.

With degrees in hand, the couple who married in 2003, returned to the farm to work and raise their family. Unlike both of their dads, who a generation earlier made a fulltime career of farming, both Kurtis and Wendy maintain off-farm careers.

Wendy served as editor of one of the state´s largest agriculture newspapers, the Tri-State Neighbor, resigning in 2012 to spend more time with their young children, Karin, 10, and Bode, 6. Today, she is self-employed as a photographer and freelance journalist and serves as the assistant editor of The Cattle Business Weekly.

Hometown: Worthing, SD

Ken and Marlene Sweeter; Kurtis and Wendy Sweeter and children, Karin (10) and Bode (6) and Mike and Jennifer Sweeter and children: Kade (4) and Aubree (2)

Types of crops:
Corn, soybeans and alfalfa

Types of livestock:
Cow/calf herd

Kurtis works fulltime as an assistant procurement manager in charge of animal handling for Smithfield (formerly John Morrell).

Juggling farming and a full-time career means Kurtis´ days begin around 4 a.m. and during harvest and calving can run until 10 p.m. or midnight.

Obviously, it would have been easier for Kurtis to work full-time on the farm, but that isn´t the reality for him or his brother, Mike, 30, who also puts in 12-18 hour days farming and working full-time as a combine mechanic for Sioux International.

The men cite the cost of land and its scarcity as the largest challenge to farming full-time. However, neither has let this obstacle stand in the way of their passion for farming.

"We look for opportunities where they present themselves," Kurtis explained. "We aren´t afraid to pasture our cattle 30 miles from home if that´s where the opportunity is."

The brothers rent some crop acres, but they have focused most of their expansion dollars on increasing their cow/calf herd by leasing pastureland, which is most often not desirable for farming, therefore rent is much less. "We rent land from Worthing to south of Canton and south of Centerville. We have 10 head here and 20 head there - renting small 20-acre or so pieces of land, it´s a lot to manage, but at the same rate, it allows us to have the cow herd we have," Kurtis explains.

"Times are different," Mike added. "In today´s world you have to do this to have the land you need. You are not going to have land available right around your home - you have to expand out. There are farmers who drive farther than us."

Although the brothers and their dad share crop ground, pasture, labor and equipment, they keep their farm finances separate, splitting costs for rent and inputs, like seed, fertilizer and fuel.

When it comes to marketing, the Sweeters market their corn and soybeans to local grain cooperatives or ethanol plants. They sell their cattle at the Sioux Falls Regional Livestock auction market in Worthing, which is within sight of their house.

"You can´t beat the freight rate," joked Mike.

Mike and Kurtis both live within a few miles of their childhood home where Ken and their mom, Marlene, who works as Lincoln County auditor, continue to live. Mike and his wife, Jennifer, have two young children, Kade, 4, and Aubree, 2. Jennifer works as a nurse at Sanford.

Although work keeps the families busy, they make time to get involved. "I´m terrible at saying ´no,´" said Wendy, who has volunteered her time and served on numerous boards and committees helping agricultural organizations across the state. "If there is something I think I can fix or make better, I want to try. If there is an organization I think I can help, then I do."

She credits her parents, Gilbert and Rosemary Mohrhauser, with instilling this mindset.

"We were always involved in church and 4-H - growing up on the farm, the things we kids looked forward to most each summer were the bookmobile, swimming lessons and getting ready for the Sioux Empire Fair," Wendy said.

Wendy has helped with the Sioux Empire Farm Show in one capacity or another since 2000 when, as a freshman in college, she was asked to help with the youth livestock judging contest. Wendy served on the Chamber Ag Committee for 11 years and was the 2011-2012 chair.

"The Sioux Empire Farm Show is so important to our community. It showcases agriculture while bringing together people from all over the state and region to show and sell livestock," Wendy said.

Together, the couple is also involved in their church and volunteer their time to help put on 4-H and FFA livestock and meat judging contest.

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Supporting agriculture and the Sioux Falls agri-business community

By Lura Roti
For the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Evan Nolte, 2017 Agri-Business Citizen of the Year,

As South Dakota´s number one industry, agriculture´s economic reach extends well beyond the state´s rural communities. Its strength has protected Sioux Falls´ business community from some tough economic times, explained Evan Nolte, Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO.

"I often point out that during the recent recession, it was clearly the strength of the state´s agriculture industry that helped insulate Sioux Falls from facing the same dramatic impacts other parts of the country saw," said the 2017 Agri-Business Citizen of the Year.

Since the beginning of his 37-year career with the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Nolte has strongly supported the Sioux Falls´ agribusiness community.

"He realizes the economic impact agriculture has on our community. It´s the driving force behind our state´s economy and he understands this," said Cindy Christensen, Agri-Business Division Manager.

Nolte explained that from the beginning, the important role agriculture played in the Sioux Falls business community was made clear to him. "Over the years I´ve had excellent mentors within the business and agri-business community of Sioux Falls. I learned right away of the valuable role and importance agriculture plays in this community," said Nolte, who will retire this February.

Each year, the annual Sioux Empire Farm Show celebrates this valued relationship. The event welcomes more than 30,000 exhibitors, vendors and visitors. Not to mention several hundred cows, sheep, goats and pigs. In addition, the Chamber partners with Midwest Shows, Inc. who hosts commercial ag exhibitors.

Nolte said the combined event provides an excellent opportunity for Sioux Falls area residents to engage with their rural neighbors and learn more about the people and industry of agriculture.

"This winter event showcases the connection between the area´s agriculture producers and their agri-business partners," he said. "The Farm Show is a vivid reminder of the interdependence we have. For the city of Sioux Falls to succeed, livestock producers, farmers and agribusiness need to do well."

No sooner does one Farm Show end than preparation for the next year´s event begins. Since his arrival, shortly after the 1979 Farm Show, Nolte has played an active role, serving on the Sale of Champions Buyers Committee. He and the committee works to solicit pledges from individuals and area business to provide premiums for Farm Show livestock exhibitors and champions. In 2016, more than $75,000 was raised at the event.

Wife, Lesley; sons: Mike (Carmen), Portland, Ore.; James, San Diego; John (Cathy), Roosevelt, Utah; Ryan (Erica), Plymouth, Minn.; eight grandchildren.

Bachelor of Arts degree, Augustana College (now University)

Little-known fact:
Nolte´s first career choice was to become a veterinarian. Instead, he changed course and studied political science and business administration.

"He genuinely understands the importance of the Sioux Empire Farm Show to area agriculture producers and agri-businesses," Christensen said. Over the years, Nolte says just like the rest of the Sioux Falls´ business community, he has watched agriculture evolve. "Technology has dramatically changed things," he said.

He is concerned about the current downturn in crop and livestock markets and the impact it has already had on the Sioux Falls area. "We have weathered down cycles in the farm economy before and we will weather this one together."

Although Nolte didn´t grow up on a farm or ranch, he did spend childhood summers working at his uncle´s Iowa farm and feed store. "I just loved hauling feed with my uncle, driving around the country making farm feed deliveries," Nolte recalled.

Those summer visits inspired Nolte´s initial career aspirations to become a veterinarian. As an out of state student, competition and quotas to get into the veterinary program at Iowa State University however, quickly put an end to that dream. Nolte decided to pursue his other passion - political science and economics. He graduated from Augustana College (now University) with degrees in political science and business administration. Before Sioux Falls, Nolte served in leadership roles for chamber of commerce organizations in Nebraska City, Nebraska; Yankton, South Dakota; St. Joseph, Missouri and Mason City, Iowa.

"I enjoyed a great career because I´ve been given the opportunity to work with business professionals, community leaders, agriculture leaders and a great Chamber and CVB staff. Together, we have worked on issues and projects that benefit the community and area. I feel that has had a positive impact on people´s lives in the Sioux Falls area and the state of South Dakota," Nolte explained.

To learn more about Evan Nolte, the 2017 Agri-Business Citizen of the Year, read the November 2016 issue of Chamber News.

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2017 Sioux Empire Farm Show Schedule

Tuesday, January 24   4:30
Ribbon Cutting-Expo Building
4H/FFA Invitational Calf Shows

Wednesday, January 25   8:00


Market Barrow and Gilt Show
Angus Show
Simmental Show
Simmental Sale
Angus Sale
Ribbon Cutting-Convention Center

Thursday, January 26   8:00



Hereford Show
Charolais Show
Red Angus Show
Limousin Show
Maine Anjou Show
Hereford Sale
Charolais Sale
Red Angus Sale
Limousin Sale
Feeder Heifer Show
Market Lamb Show

Friday, January 27   9:00
Supreme Row Judging
Market Goat Show
Market Beef Show
Feeder Steer Show
Market Goat Show
  6:30 PM Mayor´s Round-Up &  Sale of Champions
$12,000 Supreme Row Cash Awards Presentation, Benefit Auction for SEFS Junior Exhibitor Scholarship
Sponsored by Tri-State Neighbor, Wells Fargo Bank and Campbell Supply Co. Best Western PLUS Ramkota Hotel Exhibit Hall Cost: $45 per person. Tickets available at Farm Show office.

Saturday, January 28   8:30
Youth and Open Rabbit Show
Junior Livestock Judging Contest
Breeding Beef Heifer Show
Announce Junior Judging Contest Winners
Draft Horse Pull

Commercial Exhibits in the Expo Building, the Sioux Falls Convention Center and the Arena open daily Wednesday & Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. & Friday until 4 p.m. This schedule is subject to change


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 advertisements in the Argus Leader, Tri-State Neighbor and Chamber News. Business representatives who bid on the Grand and Reserve Champions and 3rd place market livestock for each animal species will have their photos included in the ads.

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 an annual revenue 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 2016, more than $75,000 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. 27
Best Western PLUS
Ramkota Exhibit Hall

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

Cost: $45 per person,
with reserved tables of 8

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


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.

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