Plenty of Corn for Food, Feed & Fuel

With improved seed technology, attention to soil health and precision farming capabilities, South Dakota growers can harvest more yield per acre than ever before.

Corn is truly abundant in our nation. In 2017, 13.5 percent of the U.S. corn crop was exported, while 37.6 percent was used for livestock feed. Nearly 10 percent is used for human foods and products, such as cereal, sweeteners and starch.

Another 30.1 percent was used for ethanol. However, the corn used for ethanol is essentially used twice. DDGS, a by-product of the ethanol production process, is a high-protein food source for livestock.

Sweet corn and corn grown for popcorn are entirely different from field corn, or dent corn. Only one percent of the corn grown in South Dakota is sweet corn.

Sources: and

It’s an economic powerhouse! Farming is South Dakota’s largest economic sector.

  • Production agriculture’s direct effect on the South Dakota economy was $8.3 billion, representing the value of products produced. [2]
  • An additional impact of $3.4 billion results from businesses supplying inputs, and effects of increased household spending are $1.6 billion, bringing the total to $13.3 billion for production agriculture. [2]
  • Agriculture contributes more than $645 million to South Dakota’s tax revenues. [2]

With more than 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pastureland, our farmers and ranchers are one of our economy’s key drivers, with:

  • 5.3 million acres of corn [3]
  • 4.71 million acres of soybeans [3]
  • 3.1 million acres of hay [3]
  • 2.28 million acres of wheat [3]
  • 1.85 million acres of alfalfa [3]
  • 623,000 acres of sunflowers [3]
  • 50,000 acres of oats [3]
  • 30,000 acres of millet [3]
  • 12,900 acres of pulse crops [3]
  • Corn production in South Dakota accounted for 6.4 percent of statewide GDP, 6.9 percent of labor income and 5.5 percent of all jobs in the state in 2011. [4]
  • South Dakota’s corn producers pumped $2.43 billion into the state’s economy, providing $1.71 billion in total labor income to 31,761 jobholders. [4]
  1. 2014 South Dakota Ag Economic Contribution Study
  2. 2011 South Dakota State University Combined Research and Extension Plan of Work
  3. South Dakota Dept. of Ag 2014 Fact sheet, The Common Thread
  4. The Economic Impact of Corn Production in South Dakota Study by Dave Swenson