Conference Canceled; Observing Ag Week

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of large events everywhere and that includes the South Dakota Corn Growers Association’s annual conference on March 27. People’s health and safety are the No. 1 priority, and the SDCGA is strongly supportive of the multitude of precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

The conference originally had been scheduled January 18, but was postponed to March 27 because of a snowstorm. Planning is already underway for the 2021 conference, which will be held January 16 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Although there’s no annual conference to reflect back on the past year in agriculture, this coming week is designated as a time for America to pay tribute to this vital industry. March 22-28 is National Ag Week and Tuesday, March 24 is National Ag Day.

National Ag Week recognizes the farmers and ranchers who produce the food that Americans find in their grocery store aisles. This is also an opportunity for farmers and ag groups—all of us involved in agriculture—to share information with consumers and to educate them about what we do.

Steve Dick, executive director of Ag United For South Dakota, says distributing information about agriculture is more important than ever. His organization coordinates numerous activities throughout the year to give people an inside look at agriculture and learn more about their food and where it comes from. Many of those people—both adults and children—are several generations removed from the farm.

Those activities include reaching fourth-graders by bringing a pig farmer and dairy farmer into classrooms and sharing information to which they can relate—as simple as sharing what goes into a pepperoni pizza, from the crust to the toppings.

“In a normal year, we’ll reach over 800 students at nine schools, from Milbank to Yankton. Unfortunately, this year we were able to do only six schools before they were shut down,” Dick said. “The reason we do fourth-graders is it matches the curriculum they have for South Dakota civics, so they get a lesson in South Dakota agriculture. Even in places like Milbank or Clear Lake, the vast majority of students are removed from the farm. It’s even more profound at Yankton and Sioux Falls.”

As generations of consumers become even more removed from the farm, the importance of telling agriculture’s story increases.

To commemorate National Ag Week, we’re sharing some facts that provide a picture of the incredible impact agriculture has in our state and nation. Farmers, ranchers, cooperatives, ethanol plants, agribusinesses and anyone involved in agriculture in any form should be proud of what they accomplish and the good they’re doing for South Dakota, and for America. Sometimes we need to toot our own horns.

National Facts

  • There are 2.1 million farms across the United States.
  • About 98% of those farms are family owned.
  • Farm and ranch families make up just 2% of the U.S. population and only 1.3% of the employed population.
  • S. farmers produce about 40% of the world’s corn, using only 20% of the total area harvested in the world.
  • The agriculture and food industries contribute more than $1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • Agriculture employs over 24 million Americans.
  • Cattle, corn and soybeans are the top three U.S. farm products.
  • Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home.

South Dakota Facts

  • 98% of South Dakota farms are family-owned and operated.
  • Over 2,500 South Dakota farms have been in the same family for more than 100 years.
  • Agriculture has a $32 billion economic impact in our state annually.
  • The number of agricultural-related jobs is 132,000, more than 1/5 of the workforce.
  • We have 16 ethanol plants capable of producing more than 1 billion gallons annually.
  • According to the latest Census of Agriculture released in April, our South Dakota farmers and ranchers sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products in 2017.
  • The Census counted almost 4 million head of cattle and calves in South Dakota, which generated over $3 billion in sales.

South Dakota Ranks in U.S.

  • #6 in corn production
  • #6 in ethanol production
  • #7 in soybeans
  • #7 (tie) in cattle
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