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Larry Gabriel

Larry Gabriel
Larry Gabriel

Eminent Farmer

County: Haakon

Larry Gabriel served as secretary of agriculture for the state of South Dakota from 2000-2007. He has been an advocate for agricultural research and Cooperative Extension. His career includes terms as Haakon County Commissioner, legislator and House Majority Leader, cabinet secretary and community volunteer. But his service was always based on the values that started on a ranch in western South Dakota.

While secretary of agriculture, Larry was instrumental in revitalization of the State Fair and creation of the South Dakota certified enrolled cattle and beef programs. He worked to increase livestock feeding in South Dakota, restructured the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and created the Division of Wildland Fire Suppression. He helped create the Northern Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center to provide coordinated leadership to all risk incident agencies. He oversaw the development of the Black Hills Interagency Fire School, which trains more than 2,800 firefighters each year. He was instrumental in developing a scientific drought assistance program, which is the basis of a pilot U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency program.

Larry was an active advocate of dairy development, and worked with SDSU and the Midwest Dairy Institute to encourage the robust expansion of dairy processing, increase dairy cattle numbers and reverse a 70-year decline in the state dairy industry.

He served for more than a decade on the board of the Philip Health Service, and was the driving force in a fundraising campaign for a new facility to replace the aging acute care hospital. In 2002, this community-wide project received the Outstanding Philanthropic Community Award for the state of South Dakota.

In 2005, he was elected president of the Midwest Association of State Departments of Agriculture. In 2004, he was awarded the SDSU Distinguished Alumni Award.

Larry graduated from SDSU with a major in agricultural economics. Larry and his wife Charlotte have two children.