PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There’s a shakeup at South Dakota Corn.

Lisa Richardson, the long-time executive director for the non-profit promotional organization, is out. Replacing her on an interim basis is Mike Jaspers.

Mike Jaspers | Courtesy SD Corn

Jaspers, a corn farmer, former state secretary of agriculture and former legislator, is still employed by East River Electric Power Cooperative at Madison as business development director.

Jaspers was on the call Friday morning when the government side of the organization met but didn’t speak during the open portion of the meeting.

The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council went into executive session for about 25 minutes, then returned to open session. The council hired Brett Koenecke of Pierre as legal counsel and assigned him to seek proposals for a forensic audit.

Koenecke told the council he could have a good idea within two weeks. He said a forensic audit isn’t unusual when an organization changes executives.

Three members of the council, led by president Grant Rix of Groton, were chosen Friday to be a search committee for a new executive director.

Said Rix, “We will be working with South Dakota Corn for some agreement on how everything’s going to work in the office.”

The council and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association share a headquarters at 4712 South Technopolis Drive, Sioux Falls.

The changes come just weeks after the Sioux Falls-based Limestone Inc. bookkeeping firm took over the council’s accounting.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association’s promotional side spends millions of dollars per year on advertising and development. The council collects refundable check-off fees from corn farmers. A draft report for May showed the council’s assets at about $6.5 million.

The council has repeatedly been written up in annual state government financial audits for failing to maintain proper controls. (See page 274 of the 2020 report.) The council operates under the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

State DANR Secretary Hunter Roberts participated in the meeting.

Also on the call Friday was attorney Laura Hensley from the Boyce firm in Sioux Falls. She didn’t say why.