Since 1981, Mr. Lakner has served as CEO of Lakner Farms L.L.C., a 4500 acre diversified crop and livestock farm in east central South Dakota. Mr. Lakner is a fourth-generation farmer who owns and operates the enterprise. His wife, Myrna, has an M.S.N. degree from SDSU as a clinical nurse leader and is recently retired after 34 years in the medical field. They have four adult children, Kira, Blair, Mitchell and Andrew (SDSU graduate).
He received his B.S. in Agribusiness from SDSU in 1978 where he honed his analytical skills as an undergraduate research assistant for the extension economists and served as Chairman of the Student Affairs subcommittee for the SDSU Student Association. He continues to stay engaged with SDSU in many different roles including six years on the Advisory Council for the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, and in facilitating support for funding of the operations of the First Dakota National Bank Education e-Trading Lab.
Mr. Lakner started his post-graduate career with Farm Credit Services of America spending three years as a Credit Manager, Loan Officer and Branch Office Manager in Sioux City and Iowa Falls, Iowa before returning to the family farm.
He is a member of the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association, the largest local agricultural-supply cooperative in the U.S., and has served on the Board of Directors since 2004. He is a member of Land O’Lakes and has served on the Board of Directors since 2014, representing nine states from the Dakotas to the Pacific Northwest. He has also been a member since 2014 of AgriCapital Advisory Group, a New York based investment bank focusing on agribusiness. Mr. Lakner is a past member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, serving on the Agricultural Advisory Council from 2005-2007. In 2010, he was awarded the "Director of the Year" by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) for his representation of nearly 3000 cooperatives nationwide and a majority of the two million U.S. farmers who belong to them.
Mr. Lakner continues to seek new knowledge through his participation in four Harvard Business School Agribusiness Seminars; collaborating to develop a case study of South Dakota Wheat Growers which was presented in the 2008 seminar. He continues to contribute as a panelist for state cooperative conferences across the US.
Mr. Lakner is an advocate for rural enterprise and leadership, economic vitality and poverty amelioration. He has served since 2013 on the Dakotas America Governing Board, a non-profit community re-investment entity in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has also served as a board member/board officer since 2014 for Dakota Resources, a for-profit community and rural enterprise entity with the objectives of developing economic vitality and leadership.