Elvin E. Mitchell, Lawrence County rancher, was honored in 1974 as Eminent Farmer by the Board of Regents and South Dakota State University.
“A man who is several strides ahead of the rest of us” describes Mitchell.
Even before there was Grade A milk, his purebred Holstein herd was producing milk of such high quality that it was kept separate for use by the Lead and Deadwood hospitals.
He practiced soil conservation before it became an established program, building many diversion dams and, as early as 1939, blading in ditches and sodding grassed waterways. These, together with the shelterbelts and tree strips he planted, have contained most erosion problems on the Mitchell ranch.
He tried three-way crosses in his beef herd despite warnings that they were difficult to manage. Crossbreeding of purebred Herefords and Angus had reduced calving problems and given faster gains. But he wanted to mix in Shorthorn to get more milk.
He was successful. Testimony to this is his 1972 sale of feeder calves to the SDSU Experiment Farm at Redfield.
For more than 15 years he has cooperated with SDSU in research and demonstration plots and field tryouts for a variety of projects. He has been on the Lawrence County Extension Board 31 years, assisting three different county agents, and is now chairman.
In 1970 Mitchell became a lifetime member of the Registered Angus Association and was one of the original board members of the Northern Black Hills Milk Association. He was a charter member of the St. Onge Commercial Club in 1948, and has been a board member and regular sponsor of the Western Junior Livestock Show. He served on the Lawrence-Butte County Farmers Home Administration Board and is a member of Farmers Union and the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.