Henry Knochenmus, rural Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who has played the role of farmer, dairyman, legislator and agricultural leader during his 54-year career in agriculture, was honored by the Board of Regents and South Dakota State University as 1979 Eminent Farmer.
His career began in partnership with his three brothers on a farm near Hartford, South Dakota. He was in the eighth grade and worked with an older brother on the farm, while the other two brothers delivered milk for Lakeside Dairy at Sioux Falls to supply operating capital.
The “salaried” brothers learned of a Holstein herd for sale by a retiring farmer near Harrisburg, South Dakota. The opportunity also included renting the land and buildings. One brother remained to operate the Hartford farm, one continued to work for Lakeside, and Knochenmus and another brother operated the Harrisburg farm.
After the move to Harrisburg, and shortly after Knochenmus’ high school graduation, the brothers bought “Smith’s Guernsey Dairy.”
After operating with the combined Holstein and Guernsey herds for about two years, the brothers bought another herd and were then dispensing about 360 quarts of raw milk per day. Another acquisition, Sunflower Dairy and its routes, raised the gross to 480 quarts per day.
After the dissolution of the partnership in 1951, Knochenmus had time to develop his interests in other areas—especially conservation and public affairs.
The soil-and-water conservation ethic encouraged Knochenmus to join the Izaak Walton League which built its club facilities near his farm in 1957.
He became a member of the local Board of Education, a director of the Valley Springs Elevator Association, President of the Minnehaha County Farm Bureau, Chairman of the county Water Conservancy Board, Director of the South Dakota Livestock Expansion Foundation, Director of the county Feeder’s Association, Director of the Brandon Lions Club, Chairman of the Board of the First Methodist Church of Sioux Falls, President of the Dale Carnegie Alumni Association, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and more—mostly after his 50th birthday.
Later, Knochenmus waged a successful campaign for the State Legislature and became a member of the Appropriations Committee.
He and his wife, Lucille, have two sons, Robert and Roger, both of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.