Gov. Noem announces Secretary of Agriculture resigns, names Rhoden as replacement

Local News

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) announced she accepted a resignation letter from South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman on Tuesday. 

Kim Vanneman.

Noem named Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden as the interim secretary. 

Rhoden said his immediate focus will be helping the agriculture industry turn the corner during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says he’s been working with producers following the Smithfield Foods plant closure. Rhoden also said he’s been watching what’s happening with the beef market. 

Noem started Tuesday’s media briefing with a recap of the massing testing site Monday in Sioux Falls. 

While COVID-19 testing will continue for Smithfield employees and families at the Washington High School parking lot this week, Noem said nearly 1,500 tests were performed during the first day on Monday. 

Noem, who said the state is spearheading the mass testing site, thanked Avera Health, the National Guard and members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for helping with the event. She also thanked language specialists who helped communicate with all of the patients. 

Noem said each test took around 2-minutes per individual and the Avera team estimated 10 percent of people had symptoms. The CDC team in Sioux Falls said it was the largest testing event it had been part of.

Noem concluded her opening remarks by asking people to take care of each other. She asked people to bring awareness to missing and murdered Native American women.

When asked about future mass testing sites, Noem said she would consider mass testing if it was deemed necessary. When asked if she’ll meet with Smithfield employees, Noem said she will hold a virtual meeting for employees who have concerns.

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