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Poet becomes first backer in ag foundation’s challenge: Company gives $250,000 gift to the South Dak

At a press conference on National Ag Day March 20, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard challenged the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation to raise $4 million in five years.

Through the challenge, the state of South Dakota and the South Dakota Community Foundation will match an additional $1 million if the ag foundation can reach their $4 million goal. To reach that goal, ethanol maker POET gave the first $250,000.

POET CEO Jeff Broin announced the company’s donation at their Sioux Falls headquarters.

“The goal of the ag foundation is one that speaks to me and to everyone here at POET. In particular, the foundation work to empower and educate young farmers is more important today than ever before,” Broin said.

“Our next ag leaders must learn quickly how to succeed in a challenging environment. Our nation’s economic well-being, the spirit of rural America and, in my opinion, a bright future for our children and grandchildren depend on it.”

Broin talked about growing up in the 1980s during the farm crisis. Through ethanol, farmers found another place to sell their grain.

Today’s agriculture climate is entering a new crisis, Broin said. With world grain stocks at a record surplus and grain prices at or below the cost of production, banks are bracing for bankruptcies this year.

By investing in the South Dakota Ag Foundation, Broin is investing in the future of agriculture in the state.

“South Dakota needs to foster bright minds and passionate leaders in agriculture to confront these challenges head on. We need to use these grain surpluses to improve the world around us,” Broin said. “At POET, we’re working hard to grow ethanol use across the nation and around the world. Biofuels have been the only major growth market for ag products over the last two decades. And, with the help of the ag sector, we intend to reignite that growth.”

In addition to POET, the ag foundation has received commitments toward the $4 million goal from First Interstate Bank ($25,000), South Dakota Bankers Association ($5,000), Riverview Farm’s ($5,000) and Nathan & Kristin Jensen ($1,000).

Daugaard said if the foundation can meet the challenge, it will enhance what the foundation can do to improve agriculture in the state.

“We can’t just accept the way things are and ignore the fact that the landscape of agriculture in South Dakota is changing. We need to look beyond today and adapt,” Daugaard said. “In order to thrive, we need to be in a position to seize the opportunity when it arises.”

The South Dakota Ag Foundation was founded on National Ag Day in 2016 to cultivate a culture of philanthropy that serves all South Dakota ag organizations and invests in the future of South Dakota agriculture

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