Area farmer leads SD soybeans group
VERMILLION, S.D. -- Jerry Schmitz is stepping up from his role as president of the South Dakota Soybean Association.
The Vermillion farmer is the statewide organization’s new executive director. He succeeds Michael D. “Mit” Goblirsch, who replaced Jeremy Freking in February after Freking took a job with the state department of agriculture.
Schmitz has been involved with the soybean association for nearly 40 years, serving as a charter member of the organization. He said he’s eager to work with the organization’s leaders to grow opportunities for South Dakota farmers.
“Even though times are tough in agriculture today, I am energized by opportunities transpiring around the globe, as well as domestically for South Dakota’s soybean growers,” he said in a news release announcing his transition.
“Jerry understands the issues firsthand. He’s a farmer, like us, so he is able to connect with farmers, which is very important to achieving the mission of what our member-based organization does,” said John Horter, a farmer from Andover and SDSA president.
Schmitz will provide leadership for both SDSA and South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. The research and promotion council is South Dakota’s soybean checkoff organization and focuses on increasing opportunities for South Dakota soybean farmers by investing checkoff dollars in marketing, research, education and promotional initiatives.
Because checkoff funds cannot be used for legislative activities, SDSA is the member-organization that represents soybean farmers on legislative policy issues.
Brookings farmer and SDSRPC Chairman, Craig Converse says Schmitz’s experience will serve as a catalyst to drive the organizations forward and advance the checkoff’s strategic goals.
“Jerry has both the experience of serving as a leader on the South Dakota Soybean Association board and an understanding of the current challenges facing South Dakota soybean producers,” Converse said. “With Jerry’s close ties to agriculture in South Dakota and his past leadership experience, our organizations will have an executive director who can work on research and promotional efforts for increasing the production and demand of our soybeans.”
A third-generation Vermillion farmer, Schmitz began advocating for agriculture as an FFA member. He served on the 1974-75 South Dakota State FFA Officer team while attending South Dakota State University where he received a degree in agriculture education.
After college, he returned to his family’s farm. He said beginning his farming career in the 1980s, wasn’t easy, but he didn’t consider any other options.
“The only time I was away from the farm for an extended period was during college and I sensed something was missing from my life. There is just something about witnessing the cycle of life daily - whether with crops or livestock or wildlife - that is just awe inspiring and fulfilling,” Schmitz said. “Those experiences, including the adversity, are life lessons that mold our character and make us rich.”