OPINION: Strong dairy operations help South Dakota attract jobsI was pleased to see the series of articles on dairy farming in South Dakota that ran in The Daily Republic from Dec. 3 through Dec. 8. The dairy industry is an important and growing part of our state’s economy.
By: Steve Dick, Agriculture United
I was pleased to see the series of articles on dairy farming in South Dakota that ran in The Daily Republic from Dec. 3 through Dec. 8. The dairy industry is an important and growing part of our state’s economy, and the dairy farm families who create jobs and deliver a wholesome supply of milk and dairy products deserve recognition.
There were, however, a number of oversights and generalizations in the articles that I found frustrating. Like all of agriculture, dairy farming in South Dakota has changed significantly over the years, but so has dairy production across the country. Then again, what industry hasn’t changed or adapted with changing times? Grocery stores, car dealerships, retail shops — all have changed to meet modern technologies and consumer demands.
One thing hasn’t changed. Dairy farm families — whether they immigrated to South Dakota recently or several generations ago — all share the same focus: providing the best possible care of their cows and protecting the land they farm and live on.
In the Dec. 7 article titled “So far, no large lagoon spills at dairies,” it is important to note that several of the incidents cited happened nearly 15 years ago and all but one of the dairies mentioned have changed ownership. There have been no problems at those dairies under current owners. The paperwork oversight by Turner County Dairy was the exception and was handled promptly in 2010.
With more than 40,000 pigs and 23,000 cattle in Hanson County, the county’s farmers and residents are no strangers to livestock production. Every Hanson County livestock farm that has more than 1,000 animal units is permitted by the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources and has developed a manure management plan that meets environmental regulations and the farm’s own nutrient needs.
Each dairy cow in South Dakota has an economic impact of $13,594. From purchasing hay or grain from area farmers or elevators to buying supplies in area stores and frequenting restaurants and gas stations, all that business adds up. In fact, the industry has a $1.3 billion economic impact on the state. Strong milk production and dairy farms help South Dakota attract and maintain dairy processing plants, which mean additional jobs and economic development.
For more information about dairy farming and livestock production in South Dakota, please visit Ag United for South Dakota’s web site at www.agunited.org. Each year, we work with farmers to host open house events and tours at their dairy farms. Please check our web site or call us at 336-3622 if you’d like to see for yourself how a modern dairy farm is run.
Steve Dick, of Hartford, is executive director of Agriculture United for South Dakota.