Mike Jaspers, Sioux Falls, recently became South Dakota’s secretary of agriculture. He was appointed to the post by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Jaspers is a former state senator and former state director of USDA Rural Development. He farms, raises beef cattle, holds management positions with several ag businesses and is vice chairman of the board of the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. He and his wife, Robin, have two children.
He recently answered several questions via email:
I hear you were pretty busy before you became the secretary of agriculture. Why did you accept the nomination?
Things that have guided my career path are South Dakota, agriculture and public service. When Gov. Daugaard called me to public service once again, it was easy to say “yes.” I served eight years in the state Legislature while working in ag retail and building my farming operation. Now that I am part of the governor’s administration and will be working with the Legislature on issues that impact agriculture, it will be a great experience to work on ag policy from another angle.
What are a couple of the things you would like to accomplish as the secretary of agriculture?
I see my role as secretary being: to protect the agricultural industry, to encourage and support advancements within our industry, and to help connect and advocate for people in and around agriculture. I also hope to help the department play more of a role in supporting sustainable family ownership of farms and ranches. This applies not only to those actively involved in farming and ranching, but also to those who have a financial investment in South Dakota agriculture.
Why are these at the top of your list?
These areas will have long-term impacts on South Dakota’s agricultural industry.
How will you define the department’s success over the next year?
We’ll strive to continue to promote and assist agriculture as we’ve always done. But with technological advancements, agriculture is changing. It’s important that our department evolves with the industry to be prepared for those new challenges and opportunities.
What would our readers find most interesting about your farm/ranch?
Even though I’m the fifth generation in my family to be in agricultural production, I’ve basically started parts of my own first-generation farm. Through the cow-calf portion of my operation, I work with my extended family. On the crop side, part of the operation was established by my wife’s family, while we’ve also been able to acquire additional land. In addition to corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and alfalfa, I’ve raised navy beans, grown seed-stock soybeans for seed companies and grown high-enzyme corn specifically designed for high-efficiency ethanol production.