You don’t have to drive far during a South Dakota spring, summer or fall to see planters running, fieldwork being done or even see combines rolling through cornfields and hear trucks unloading grain at the elevator.
The sights and sounds of fieldwork might stir up any number of feelings for you. Joy. Anticipation. Gratitude. Nostalgia. An overall appreciation for those who bring food to your table, help produce fuel for your vehicles and grow what becomes products that play an important role in many aspects of your life.
Farmers who put in hours of work throughout the year look forward to harvest season every fall since it represents all the hard work that has preceded it—planting seed, helping it grow, harvesting it when it’s ready—and the financial return on investment that comes with it.
That economic reward isn’t reaped by farmers alone, however. We all benefit from farming’s contributions in South Dakota.
Real Economic Impact In South Dakota
A recent study showed that agriculture poured $32 billion into our state economy last year and accounted for 130,000 jobs, extending employment opportunities to households in small towns and cities alike.
Some of these jobs are specific to the ag industry, such as local cooperative employees, mechanics, ag lenders, seed sales reps, ethanol plant operators and crop insurance agents.
But many more opportunities stem from the market demand driven by agriculture.
A vast majority of farms in South Dakota are run by families and they typically spend their money locally, creating a brighter economic future for small business owners, healthcare professionals, teachers, construction workers and others across the state.
Supporting A Strong, Healthy Infrastructure
Agriculture accounts for roughly a half-billion dollars of in-state tax revenue each year.
Since we do not pay state income taxes here in South Dakota, this contribution's impact on our annual operating budget simply cannot be understated.
The significant tax revenue generated by agriculture helps sustain our way of life in South Dakota. It helps fund our schools, keep our communities safe plus maintains our roads and infrastructure. All while easing the economic burden on other residents across the state and helping to attract new business opportunities that benefit individuals, families and entire communities.
Think about that come April 15.
Envisioning A Brighter Future
The ag industry has also carved out a whole new set of career paths for our next generation of leaders, most notably through precision agriculture’s growing influence on the way we farm.
And with the establishment of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center at South Dakota State University, students from all different walks of life in our state have greater access to the jobs of tomorrow.
That means the future of farming isn’t just for farmers. It also belongs to:
- Students pursuing STEM careers who are passionate about technology’s potential to transform how we feed and fuel the world;
- Trade-school graduates interested in working with their hands in fields like manufacturing and diesel technology; and
- Data scientists eager to crunch numbers and observe trends to support smarter decision-making in agribusiness.
In this emergent ag economy, some individuals may never even set foot on a farm. But they’re making significant contributions to agriculture and benefitting from a prosperous industry here in South Dakota.
For The Good Of All South Dakotans
Agriculture is vital to the economic prosperity of our state. If we all do what we can to support farmers and the industry at large—with our wallet, for sure, but also with our voice and our vote—we can ensure farmers will continue working toward making South Dakota a great place to live for us all!
1 2021 Economic Contribution Study of South Dakota Agriculture, Ethanol and Forestry