South Dakota Corn hires DaNita Murray

South Dakota native DaNita Murray on Dec. 1 will take reins of South Dakota Corn, the organization that houses the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

DaNita Murray is the new executive director of South Dakota Corn. South Dakota Corn photo.
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SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — South Dakota native DaNita Murray on Dec. 1 will take reins of South Dakota Corn, the organization that houses the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

“I am excited to come home to the state where I grew up and work on behalf of South Dakota’s corn producers to help ensure their needs are met from a policy standpoint in both Pierre and Washington, D.C.,” Murray said.

Murray, a Milbank, South Dakota, native and South Dakota State University graduate, will take over as executive director for SDCGA after nearly two decades of experience in agriculture law and national level policymaking. Murray, who graduated with honors from Drake University School of Law, has served as both counsel and policy advisor in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and House Agriculture Committee. She has experience working on the last two farm bills and also served as director of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association.

Murray grew up on a South Dakota farm which her brother currently operates, which she feels will help her restore trust and confidence in the organization, which saw the swift removal of two longterm employees this summer.

“Each week I catch up with my brother on the current issues facing our family farm and I am excited to help make a difference for farmers like my brother right here in the state I am glad to call home once again,” she said in a statement.


Former South Dakota Corn Executive Director Lisa Richardson, who had been in the position since 1997, resigned in July and was replaced on an interim basis by former South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers . After an executive session at a July meeting, the South Dakota Corn Council decided to hire Brett Koenecke as legal counsel and have Koenecke seek proposals for conducting a forensic audit .

The council repeatedly has been written up for failure to maintain proper control, though Jaspers told Agweek that doesn't mean there was illegal activity.

"You know officially the audits have been clean as far as there's no impropriety as far as dollars and that kind of thing, it's just that the audit firms would like to see more internal control," he said.

Murray said she is not sure when the results of the ongoing forensic audit will be released.

Murray is committed to looking ahead and is ready to address the challenges and opportunities that face farmers today. Grant Rix, SDCUC President, thinks Murray is the right person for the job and looks forward to Murray’s leadership.

“The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council is excited to have DaNita Murray step into the role as the executive director,” Rix said. “Her decades of experience in the agriculture industry and working for commodity groups is what we need to help move our organization forward with our South Dakota corn farmers in mind.”

SDCGA President Scott Stahl shares the excitement regarding the decision to hire Murray, believing Murray’s experience and vision for the organization makes her the ideal fit.

“She’s a South Dakotan and South Dakota State University graduate with farm connections. Not only does she have an extensive background in policy and law, allowing her to manage partnerships across the state and country, but also the leadership skills to help our staff and board grow and develop professionally,” Stahl said. “We are happy to have her join our organization.”

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