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Judy Jensen

Judy Jensen
Judy Jensen

Eminent Farmer

County: Brookings

Judy Jensen is the first woman ever to be recognized as an Eminent Farmer. It is an honor that Jensen has worked her entire life to earn. While she is no longer involved in much of the physical labor of the farm, no business is transacted without her input. Her service to agriculture reaches beyond the Jensen farm. She has worked hard to insure the viability of agriculture in South Dakota and believes in proactive leadership, an open mind and acceptance of change with the constant goals of consumer satisfaction and education, profitability for agriculture and creating a better atmosphere for the next generation of farmers.

Jensen grew up raising 4-H livestock and helping her parents with the family owned Brookings Sale Barn. Following their marriage, Judy and her husband Richard worked to build a farm by purchasing one quarter of land at a time. Her husband's near fatal farm accident with a combine had a lasting impact on her family. While Richard recovered, Judy assumed the daily management of the farm and the family. 

Jensen is known for her community involvement. In church, she taught Sunday school and Bible school, was active in church choir and Christian women's club and served as the first female Deacon of her church. Jensen has also served on the Brookings Hospital Board of Directors, and is vice chair of the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee. She was a member of the Brookings PTA and helped organize the first post prom party. 

South Dakota State University has benefited from Jensen's participation on numerous departmental and college search committees. She has been an active 4-H leader and supporter. Perhaps her most notable accomplishments have been in the pork industry. Jensen served as Chair of the South Dakota Pork Alliance, was a member of the National Pork Producers Council Bylaws Committee and was the first female president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. During her presidency, the industry was rocked by low pork prices, the closing of Dakota Pork Processing in Huron and more than 20 bills in the South Dakota Legislature dealing with contract feeding of hogs and environmental issues. 

Under Jensen's direction, the South Dakota Pork Producers Council quickly became known for its diplomacy, compassion and leadership. She laid the groundwork for responsible growth of the pork industry by appointing and supervising the environmental committee of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. This committee, working with 14 other agricultural groups, drafted tough but fair environmental regulations for pork producers called the general swine permit. 

Several organizations have recognized Judy for her contributions, including the SDSU Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta, Brookings FFA, Brookings County 4-H, the South Dakota Pork Producers Council and the Lake Campbell Lutheran Church. Judy and her husband Richard have three daughters: Susen Schirmer of Colome; Londa DeGroot of Volga; and Lynal Jensen of Sioux Falls.