Rapid City, SD Agriculture is the number one industry in our state and Friday we have a very influential figure in agriculture visiting our state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stopped by Rapid City and other parts of the Black Hills to talk about the importance of veterans in our ag industry.
Secretary Perdue held a listening session at the Air and Space Museum near Ellsworth Air Force Base to hear from veterans and active duty military members.
The secretary is starting a program to help military members transitioning into civilian life choose agriculture as their next career venture.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, "Certainly what we understand in agriculture is that it has become more technical, it's become more scientific, it's become more challenging, but the veterans that are getting out of service, discharging, come out with skill sets and sometimes they come out not knowing what they want to do. We want to help them understand that agriculture is a broad, wide, big lane industry that can use their talent."
Perdue says currently 13% of agriculture employees are veterans and they hope to increase to 25%.
Having the secretary agriculture visit was not only important for our number one industry but also a great advantage to our service members who will in turn shape the program.
Representative Kristi Noem says, "That's really a special thing for South Dakota because we have a higher service rate in our state than many other states and most of those folks want to come back and retire and be in south Dakota when they are done with their service."
Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds were also in attendance and plan to help the state implement this program.