By Bob Mercer
Farm Forum Correspondent
PIERRE – The Legislature gave final approval on March 8 for constructing a $46 million precision-agriculture building at South Dakota State University.
The new building would showcase a precision-agriculture program that university officials tout as the first of its kind in the nation.
Lawmakers however weren’t able to find $9 million for renovating two floors of Berg Agriculture Hall.
That work originally was part of the project too. Legislators agreed the university should handle the renovations at a later time.
The funding for the new building now stands at $16.6 million from donations, $11 million from the university budget and the remainder from public bonds.
The original proposal for work at both buildings was $70 million. University officials trimmed the price to $54 million including $9 million for the Berg Hall renovations.
Senators voted 30-2 on March 8 for SB 183. It appropriates $650,000 annually to pay down part of the $20 million of bonds planned.
The $650,000 comes via adjustments to several allocations and closing the ethanol fuel fund.
Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, described the arrangements as “somewhat complex.”
House members approved SB 183 53-13 on March 6
Both chambers then approved HB 1264.
It raises the commercial fertilizer tax by 25 cents per ton, which will raise an estimated $475,000 per year.
It also provides $2 million of one-time funds from state government.
The House voted 50-15 for it. The Senate followed 30-2.
“Thank you for being visionary,” said Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot.
Sen. Larry Tidemann called 183 “one piece of the puzzle.”
“It’s a natural fit because corn is such a critical fit for the ethanol industry,” Tidemann said. “This is something that will start as number one in the nation, the only university to have a precision-ag major.”
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