Should South Dakotans decide the next Agriculture Secretary?

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 9:03 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota Farmers Union opposes the proposed merger by Governor Kristi Noem of the state Agriculture Department with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

President Doug Sombke told WNAX in Yankton, the organization is now working with lawmakers to write a bill that would put the State Agriculture Secretary position on the ballot rather than Governor Noem appointing the position.

“Agriculture provides over $30 billion a year to the GDP of South Dakota. That’s a pretty big number. Nothing even comes close to it that our director of that, or secretary of that department, should be elected by the people rather than appointed by the Governor now that you’re going to put these two very important departments together. We feel it’s even more important. So we’re looking at a bill being introduced to do just that,” Sombke said.

He said merging the DENR with the Agriculture Department won’t really save much money.

“This is not a good idea. I mean the most you’re going to save is $400,000. And then I question that with the synergies because four of the positions they’re looking at combining currently don’t have anybody employed to fill those positions. So again, this is all smoke and mirrors by the Governor,” Sombke said.

He said the Farmers Union will testify against the legislation to merge the two departments when it’s introduced.

Copyright 2021 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.