South Dakota agriculture officials are hoping a new brochure released to the public this month will further disseminate information on what they pitch as the "state's biggest industry."
"We just wanted to put it out there to let people in South Dakota know these key facts about agriculture in our state, whether it's people who live on a farm or ranch or people who don't," said Alison Kiesz, of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. "These are just some things that we think everybody should know about."
The brochure contains various facts about the state's agricultural industry, which is touted as generating $21.3 billion in economic activity in South Dakota.
Kiesz thinks the average South Dakota agricultural producer is likely aware of the facts presented in the brochure. But the average South Dakotan may not realize that 95 percent of farms in South Dakota are family owned and operated, or that one South Dakota producer annually raises enough food to feed 144 people in the world.
"We want to inform people about the importance of agriculture in the state and the impact it has," Kiesz said.
In the 2008 national ranking of production, the brochure shows the state placing in the top 10 in nine crops. Seven of the crops -- alfalfa, flaxseed, sunflowers, oats, all wheat, ethanol and hay -- rank in the top 10 nationally.
One industry featured in the brochure may catch off-guard those unfamiliar with recent agricultural trends in the state.
Wine production has exponentially increased in South Dakota, growing from nothing in the late 1990s to more than 50,000 gallons in 2009.
"It's still a very small industry, especially when you compare it to other aspects or parts of agriculture like cattle, corn or soybeans, but it's growing dramatically every year," Kiesz said. "That's becoming exciting to show people."
Kiesz said the Department of Agriculture has received positive feedback on the brochures. It's too early to tell if this year's printing will become an annual affair, but Kiesz said the popularity of this year's brochure may lead to additional printings in the future.
"I think the distribution had kind of exceeded our expectations," Kiesz said. "We had a terrific response."
The brochure can be accessed online at http://www.state.sd.us/doa/SD-Ag-Publication.pdf or requested directly from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.
Here are some other statistics listed in the brochure:
n The average size of a farm in South Dakota is 1,401 acres.
n The average age of a South Dakota farmer is 53.7 years.
n There are 45,864 producers in South Dakota on 31,169 farms.
n 90 percent of South Dakota's land area is dedicated to agriculture.
n South Dakota has approximately five beef cattle for every state resident.
n South Dakota ranked No. 1 in bison and pheasant production in 2008.