Corsica courts out-of-state dairy farmers

Farm Forum

CORSICA — California dairy farmers are listening to calls from South Dakota to grow the industry here.

The Corsica Development Corp. recently hosted a few people from California interested in starting dairy operations in the Corsica area. Jamie Rexwinkel, president of the development corporation, said they visited about the process of locating a dairy farm in the area, looked at land, toured the town and its amenities, and looked at water needs.

The operation would house between 500 and 1,000 cows, Rexwinkel said.

“I don’t know if it’s promising,” he said. “Really, nothing’s promising until the shovel is in the ground.”

Gov. Dennis Daugaard and state agriculture officials visited the World Ag Expo in California in February to sell dairy farmers on expanding in South Dakota.

Rexwinkel said that during the last five years, the corporation has had people interested in setting up agricultural operations. He said the town’s proximity to Interstate 90 — about 40 miles southwest of Mitchell — and access to nearby feed sources are two big draws for out-of-state farmers.

Dave Lambert, development director for Dakota Heartland, a regional development group, said Corsica has “really embraced the need for agriculture.” Many family owned operations in the area are relatively small in size, Lambert said, and the ones from California and the East Coast seeking to move operations to South Dakota are also family-owned and smaller in size.

“Quite honestly, that’s wonderful,” Lambert said. “Taking into consideration the infrastructure needs, water supply, workforce and finding a location that won’t ruffle the feathers of the locals.”

Rexwinkel and Lambert both said the Californians’ visit and interest in Corisca is “very preliminary.”

Lambert added this is not the only party interested in settling or expansion in Corsica. He said several others in the area are looking to expand dairy, swine and beef operations.

“There’s a need for the products worldwide,” Lambert said. “I don’t think there’s a community in southcentral South Dakota that’s more willing to support it.”