South Dakota Farm Bureau member Josh Geigle was part of a panel discussion at the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention held recently in Phoenix, Arizona.


Geigle joined North Dakota farmer Katie Heger and Idaho dairy farmer Dr. Elizabeth Kohtz to share how they are defining sustainability in their own operations.


“As large corporations like Chipotle and Walmart start using the term “sustainable” to get consumers attention, farmers and ranchers need to start defining what sustainability means to our operations,” said Geigle. “Sustainability is different for every farmer and rancher. It varies depending where we live, what resources are available and our own respective climate.”


As a veterinarian working in Idaho with a number of dairy farmers, Kohtz said she’s seen a shift in various approaches to sustainability.  She said some farmers are now focusing more on a cow’s longevity than its productivity.


Row crop farmer Heger, said relationships are also a critical element of sustainability for her family’s  operation.


“Farming is all about relationships. It’s about my husband and I knowing what’s going on. What can we afford? What’s coming up in the next year?” she said. “It’s about communicating with our neighbors, our employees and with our landlords.”


Geigle echoed Heger’s comments and shared how community outreach is critical. In addition to being active in Farm Bureau, Geigle is involved in the local rodeo club and youth baseball. The Pennington / Jackson County president shared that by being involved in his community, he gets to mingle with people from town who don’t get to be on a farm or ranch on a daily basis and share with them what he’s doing to be sustainable.


South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal who also serves as AFBF Vice President said this panel was just another example of the opportunities for leadership development that are available thru the Farm Bureau organization. “We take great pride in the ability Farm Bureau has to build future leaders and give them the opportunities to improve their speaking ability and knowledge of the ag industry,” said VanderWal. “AFBF is in good hands with the quality of information that was presented in this panel discussion.”


Geigle,was honored to represent South Dakota and share his experience on the national level. “I always enjoy the opportunity to attend the AFBF convention and catch up with other farmers and ranchers; it was interesting this year to be asked to share some of my own operation and way of life with others,” said Geigle.


South Dakota Farm Bureau members were among 5,000 Farm Bureau members representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico at the AFBF Annual Meeting held January 7-11, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 98th Annual Meeting included national resolutions session which set policies for the upcoming year, as well as, workshops and seminars.