South Dakota Agricultural Foundation Established on National Ag Day

On March 15, National Ag Day, the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation announced the establishment of an endowment fund within the South Dakota Community Foundation focused on investing in the future of the industry. Initial foundation partners have committed $1.5 million to this effort over the next five years. They include First Dakota National Bank; Farm Credit Services of America; Dacotah Bank; Valley Queen Cheese Factory; Legend Seeds; farmers, ranchers and other individual donors.

“We are very excited to be a part of a coalition of private sector stakeholders that is leading a new effort to encourage investment in the future of agriculture in our state,” says Nate Franzen, president of the Agri-Business Division of First Dakota National Bank. “Ag producers, business leaders and industry stakeholders have come together to create a relevant and proactive force for change in South Dakota agriculture.”

The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation will support initiatives in the areas of workforce development, industry development and diversification, working lands conservation and promotion of and service to agriculture. Funds will be used to tackle unaddressed issues as well as support existing initiatives that are positively impacting the ag sector in South Dakota.

“Agriculture is key to South Dakota’s economy,” says Bob Schmidt, senior vice president with Farm Credit Services of America in South Dakota. “We appreciate the encouragement of Governor Dennis Daugaard and the leadership of Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch to start the conversation about the future of South Dakota’s largest industry.”

The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation, led by a volunteer advisory council and Executive Director Chris Maxwell, will oversee the fundraising efforts and grant distributions from the endowment fund. The advisory council includes Bernie Christenson, Bill Even, Nate Franzen, Christine Hamilton, Nathan Jensen, Bob Schmidt, Bob Sutton, Greg Von Wald and James Walti. The council has set a goal of raising $20 million within the next five years of existence and $100 million by 2031. The group will seek to partner with farmers and ranchers, agribusiness entities, co-ops and commodity groups and other individuals.

“Since 1987, the South Dakota Community Foundation has served as a vehicle for people to give back to causes they care about,” says Stephanie Judson, president of the South Dakota Community Foundation. “The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation endowment fund will allow ag producers, entities and individuals that have enjoyed success in agriculture an opportunity to create a long-term funding source that will benefit South Dakota’s ag industry now and long into the future.”

The South Dakota Community Foundation will provide administrative and investment services for the new endowment fund. The SDCF helps people reach their philanthropic goals and strengthens communities across the state by administering approximately $219 million in total assets for over 760 funds. For more information about the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation or to donate, visit

–South Dakota Community Foundation