2012 South Dakota Governor’s Ag Development Summit
“I was born in 1953. I grew up on a farm where we had cattle, hogs and chickens. Agriculture today is a lot different than it was back then,” said South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in his keynote address given at the 2012 Governor’s Ag Development Summit in Pierre, SD on June 27.
Taking a look at the numbers, Daugaard compared today’s agriculture compared to production levels in the 1950s. Today, farmers produced 63 percent more milk with 68 percent fewer cows; 167 percent more pork with 47 percent fewer sows; 333 percent more corn on only 11 percent more acres; 69 percent more wheat on 6 percent fewer acres; and 11 times more soybeans on 5 times more acres.
“Tremendous productivity gains in agriculture have offered us more opportunities, particularly in the value-added sector,” said Daugaard, who mentioned the opening of the Bel Brands USA plant in Brookings, SD on June 28. “Our state is starting to capitalize on the potential. Each sow in South Dakota has a $6,000 economic impact. Each cow contributes $1,700. And each dairy cow offers $13,000 in value to our economy. If we can do more, the economic benefits will grow.”
Agriculture is South Dakota’s number-one industry, generating nearly $21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 80,000 South Dakotans.
“South Dakota has the land, the people, the drive, and the opportunity to build this important economic sector for the next generation. We must look for ways – right now – to bring in quality development that will help keep agriculture as South Dakota’s number-one industry. I have renewed my commitment to expanding agriculture in our state,” he said. “We are open for business. We have 90,000 dairy cows in South Dakota; we could support at least 60,000 more. The challenge is local zoning and local county boards.”
It will be increasingly important to educate community members about the benefits of these operations in their towns to continue to grow agriculture.
“Of course, with increased production, we need to increase our markets,” he stressed. “We export $3.8 billion of goods each year, with $2.4 billion coming from agriculture products. Most of our business is done in Mexico, Canada and China. Exports to China have grown 200 percent. China is our number-one export market. With 90 percent of the world’s population and two-thirds of the purchasing power outside of the U.S., this is an important market for us.”
Daugaard recently traveled to China on a trade missions trip, where the goal was to look for ways to increase international trade there. He shared some of his China experiences and stressed the opportunities for South Dakota farmers and ranchers to export to that country.
“We are open for business,” he said. “We are wide open. We are just putting our toe into this water. We shouldn’t look inward. We’ve got lots of food, so we need to find markets for it. We don’t want to be too scattered in our efforts though.”
In his closing statements, Daugaard reasserted his commitment to agriculture.
“Agriculture needs to be the main effort to help our state prosper,” he said. “We must continue to grow and nurture our industry. Let’s keep growing our state. South Dakota agriculture means business. I’m confident we will continue to produce the food, feed, fiber and fuel our growing world needs while remaining a strong component of our economy, because South Dakota agriculture means business.”
Immediately following his speech, Jim Woster was announced as the Ag Ambassador of the year for his commitment to the state’s agriculture over the years. Although Woster wasn’t present to receive the award, a video was shown to highlight his career, particularly his reporting, writing and singing and emcee skills.
“The Summit helps our South Dakota producers and businesses work toward the common goal of feeding our families and the world,” said Walt Bones, South Dakota secretary of agriculture. F
Bones and Woster: