S.D. corn groups will stop sharing one exec

Capitol News Bureau

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The two groups that work together promoting South Dakota corn won’t be sharing an executive director any longer.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association and the state Corn Utilization Council will have separate directors going forward. The corn council on Friday agreed to offer a contract to Jon Farris of Mitchell to oversee its finances. Farris will serve on an interim basis as director of operations while the council searches for a permanent hire.

The council is an arm of the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It oversees the checkoff fees that corn producers pay.

Meanwhile, the Corn Growers Association board has hired Mike Jaspers as its interim executive director, according to president Scott Stahl of Bridgewater.

Stahl said the corn growers’ board has a search committee of four looking for a permanent hire.

Jaspers started July 22. The corn grower is a former state secretary of agriculture and a former state legislator. He continues to be business development director for East River Electric at Madison.

The corn growers receive funding through the corn council from checkoff dollars for education, research and promotion.

Jaspers and Farris replace Lisa Richardson of Sioux Falls. She was a long-time executive director for both groups.

Also gone is South Dakota Corn legislative director Teddi Mueller. No one is saying publicly why Richardson and Mueller are gone.

The corn council was frequently criticized in state government audits about weak internal financial controls.

The corn council met Friday morning at Community College for Sioux Falls. Council attorney Brett Koenecke of Pierre said three accounting firms with South Dakota ties contacted him about performing a forensic audit of the two corn groups’ finances.

The council agreed to offer a contract to ELO CPAs & Advisors of Sioux Falls.

Koenecke stressed that a forensic audit is “extremely common” when organizations change top executives.

Council president Grant Rix of Groton said the council’s three-member search committee will work with the Corn Growers on hiring an executive director to succeed Jaspers.

“The council looks forward to working with Mike in any respect he can do for us in our unified voice as SD Corn,” he said.

The help-wanted listing will be posted on the SD Corn joint website in the coming days.

Rix said the council is still working out the duties of its director of operations, who would answer only to the council.

“Our finances are still very strong and we are still keeping to all of our commitments we have entered into over the last year,” Rix said.

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