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Valley Ag Supply Recognized as AgVocate of the Year
South Dakota Ag Connection - 12/13/2018

Valley Ag Supply was named AgVocate of the Year by the board of directors for Agriculture United for South Dakota at the organization's annual luncheon in Sioux Falls. The award was presented to Tara Pirak, owner of Valley Ag Supply, in honor of the work that she and her late husband, Greg Pirak, have done in hosting the annual Field to Table event for schoolchildren each year.

The fifth annual AgVocate award recognizes South Dakotans for their work in sharing their story of modern farming with the public. The 2018 award was presented to Tara Pirak and Valley Ag Supply staff by Jim Petrik, Gayville, South Dakota, farmer and Ag United volunteer.

Valley Ag Supply was founded in 2000 by Greg and Tara Pirak when they were attending the University of South Dakota. The family-owned agronomy center now has 17 employees and provides information, fertilizer, crop protection and custom application services from locations in Gayville and Spink.

Each fall, Valley Ag Supply hosts a Field to Table event that brings more than 600 students from 16 area elementary and middle schools to see modern agriculture firsthand. The program was started by local farmer and taken over by Valley Ag Supply after his retirement in 2006. It now features hands-on stations to learn about corn, soybeans, soils, livestock, machinery, finance, biotechnology and more. The activities at the event are aligned with South Dakota education standards for middle school students

"Greg, Tara and the team at Valley Ag Supply have built the Field to Table event into an impressive event that students and the entire community look forward to," said Petrik. "They are also strong supporters of the community and livestock agriculture in the area."

Greg Pirak was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but his passion in agriculture was sparked by his love of nature and a tractor driving course at the University of California-Davis. He worked at agriculture retailer businesses through college. A job with Cargill brought him to Yankton, South Dakota. He left Cargill to pursue a Masters in Business Administration degree at the University of South Dakota. Greg and Tara met while he was at USD, and they began dating and became business partners. They have three sons, Brett, Derek, and William. Greg passed away unexpectedly while traveling on vacation in August 2018.

"The Field to Table event is a great example of bringing the agriculture community together to share the story of how food is produced with students who may not have the opportunity to see crops, equipment or livestock firsthand," said Richard Vasgaard, Centerville farmer and president of Ag United. "It is a tremendous honor to Greg Pirak's legacy that his passion for agriculture will continue with the event each year."

The keynote address at the luncheon was delivered by John Hinners, vice president of industry relations at U.S. Meat Export Federation. John works on behalf of South Dakota farm and ranch families who produce beef, pork, and lamb, to build demand for those products in international markets. He shared insights on key markets for U.S. beef and pork, including Mexico, Japan, and South Korea, and the critical role that exports play for beef, pork, corn and soybean markets.

Ag United marked its 14th year of supporting South Dakota farm and ranch families and rural communities at the event. Since its founding, Ag United has enabled nearly 33,000 consumers to visit South Dakota farms and connected with more than 10,400 students though Adopt-A-Farmer and National Ag Week programs. In addition, Ag United staff have assisted families in 32 counties with permitting and zoning issues.

Ag United was developed through a collaboration of farm organizations that support livestock production and development and includes the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Dairy Producers, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Pork Producers Council, South Dakota Poultry Industries Association and the South Dakota Soybean Association.

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