State attempts to answer questions on department merger

PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced her plan to merge the state Departments of Agriculture and Environment & Natural Resources back in August (2020), causing some concern about what the combined department means for the state’s number one industry.

Some in the agriculture industry question whether or not the two agencies can legally be combined. According to a list frequently asked questions compiled by the state, “under Article IV of the South Dakota Constitution, the Governor has the authority to reorganize her cabinet by executive order.”

Current DENR Secretary Hunter Roberts is now also serving as the interim state Secretary of Agriculture and will oversee the streamlined South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources once the merger is complete. He:

  • is an owner and operator of the Roberts Ranch in Stanley and Lyman counties
  • has worked in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development as state energy director
  • served as a policy advisor for former Gov. Dennis Daugaard working on agricultural policy and overseeing the South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Roberts’ grandfather, Clint Roberts, served as SD Secretary of Agriculture from 1979-80 during the first Janklow administration.

The FAQ information lays out a timeline showing Gov. Noem will issue an executive proclamation in January 2021, with the merger being complete 90 days later, which would be some time in April.

See the entire list of FAQs in this farm news story at