This time of year, it's hard to miss how closely our counties are tied to the farming industry, and how vital agriculture is to our economy. Many of us have deep roots in family farms all across South Dakota, and the majority of the land we drive past in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties consists of planted fields, no matter how fast our communities are growing.
In fact, 89% of the land in South Dakota lies within our state's 31,800 farms. Those farms comprise an agriculture industry with total annual cash receipts of $9.1 billion and a $20.9 billion economic impact each year—20% of our state's economic activity. Production agriculture and its value-added industries employ over 80,000 South Dakotans, and our state routinely ranks among the top 10 states for the production of hay, sunflowers, rye, honey, soybeans, corn, wheat, and cattle.
Agriculture is also a major element in regional economic development. Farming supports an ever-growing number of value-added ag companies, and farm family purchases fuel retail businesses and professional services in our communities. Taxes paid by ag producers help build new schools, fund infrastructure improvements, and keep first responders on the job throughout our area.
As we drive past acres of corn or soybeans, we can appreciate both the labor and the love of the land that characterize today's ag professionals. Increasingly tech-driven, modern agriculture blends the lessons of the past with the most advanced production methods to boost yields, increase profits, and care for the land. Conscious of their role in feeding the world, South Dakota farmers do their best to improve their operations and drive the industry forward.
Please thank the farmers you know. They are working hard to keep our counties and our state economically strong—and our communities growing!
By Jesse Fonkert, Executive Director
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