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Harry Witt

Harry Witt
Harry Witt

Eminent Farmer

County: Hamlin

Harry Witt, 65, Butler, a Day County Hereford breeder, who feels that “farming entrusts an individual with the responsibility for leaving the soil intact for future generations as well as making an adequate living,” was honored in 1972 as Eminent Farmer by the South Dakota Board of Regents and South Dakota State University.

Witt served as Board of Regents member from 1965 to 1971, was county Extension agent in Hamlin County from 1933 to 1940, and taught vocational-agriculture just after his graduation from South Dakota State University in 1931. He was chosen district Stockman of the Year by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association in 1961. His registered polled Hereford herd was one of the first in the county to be enrolled in a performance testing program and he has been involved with the Day County Crop Improvement Association since its beginning in 1952.

His 1,500 acre farm and ranch is operated in partnership with son, Steve, 29. A daughter, Mrs. Harvey (Carol) Hanson, 41, lives in Vermillion. Mrs. Witt describes her husband as “a man who likes to see things get done, to hurry along.”

Witt who was born a few mile from the present farm, began farming with his father, Henry, and a brother, Frank, in 1932. The first purebred cattle in the Witt operation were introduced by Harry in 1933, two purebred heifers, bought from a neighbor. The next year the Witts bought 30 heifers from Pratterson Brothers at Lake Preston. “That winter,” according to Witt, “there was nothing to feed, but piles of Russian thistles in the lakebeds.” The next year, he joined the Extension Service. The next seven years he learned as well as taught about the livestock business.

The Witts—Harry and Steve—now have something over 150 registered polled Herefords at the farm most of the time, including about 80 cows. His herd is enrolled in the guideline program with the South Dakota Hereford Association. The Witts are trying to get their herd sires up to 2,200 to 2,300 pounds, while a few years ago the demand was for short, chubby, early-maturing cattle.

Witt has been a member of the South Dakota Hereford Association since its beginning in 1942. He was one of the original directors and helped form the organization. He also is a member of the National Hereford Association, and of Farmers Union.

The Day County honoree has served as a 4-H Club leader, held several offices in the Butler Lutheran Church and served as Sunday School teacher in the 1960s.