SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The livestock industry is the backbone of South Dakota's economy, and that was evident at this year's Sioux Empire Farm Show held Jan. 24-27 in Sioux Falls.
Numbers were once again strong for the livestock shows and sales, including market hogs, sheep, goats and six breeds of purebred beef cattle.
Plus, the caliber of livestock at the shows and sales reflects the strength of the livestock industry in the state and region.
"People are coming for their A-game, and they definitely show that in the ring," says Sioux Empire Farm Show Manager Holly Behrens.
"There's Denver division champions sold right here at the farm show, so the quality is really good. These cattle could go on and compete anywhere, says Phil Eggers, a livestock exhibitor who works with the South Dakota Hereford Association.
The show draws exhibitors from the state, Upper Midwest and even nationally. Behrens says several states were represented at this year's event.
"We had a lot of entries from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Texas." Eggers says. "There's a lot of people that come up from other states because the prize money is really good."
One of those exhibitors was Megan Moore of Knoxville, Iowa, who was showing two wethers in the market lambs show. Moore's farm is just south of Des Moines, and she traveled the distance because of the caliber of the livestock.
"Quality is really good, especially after Denver, then you get all the Denver sheep that come back, and it's a nice show to come back afterwards and see a lot of great livestock," she says.
The livestock sales were off slightly from 2017 but were reflective of the current market.
"Consignments are up, sales have been real steady. The market livestock has been really good," Eggers says. "New this year, they're doing a live streaming with the livestock link, which is a company I work with. So, all the shows and sales are available online to view live and then online bidding is also available."
The big attraction is the Supreme Row and the Mayor's Round-Up and Sale of Champions. "And that $12,000 purse gets divided for our Supreme Champion Bull overall and Supreme Champion female. The consignor and the buyer both get a portion of that purse," Behrens says.
It pays $3,500 to the consignors of the Supreme Champion Bull and Heifer and pays $2,500 to the buyers of those champions. The Sale of Champions is held on Friday night at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall. The top five market lambs, top 10 market swine, top five market beef and five market goats are sold at auction.
Even though the show is held in the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls area residents support the show. Behrens calls it a chance for the farm to come to the city, and they generally host around 30,000 visitors.
"They come out. They have a lot of family that's showing. They have a lot of friends, long-time friends," she says.
The public and business community also understand the impact the agricultural industry makes on the state's economy.
"It's just a big circle, and all of those commodities are important for everyday life. If you're wearing clothes today or you're eating a meal, agriculture is important to you," she says.
Moore agrees: "It puts food on the table for everyone. Whether you're a farmer or a big CEO in a company, I mean, you're all connected to livestock, the livestock industry some way, whether you know it or not. Plus, a ton of dollars are generated."