Cain vs. Abel: In SD, crop agriculture generates twice as many jobs as animal agriculture does

Farm Forum

That old biblical conflict between Cain and Abel, the tiller of the earth vs. the tender of flocks, continues through the present day in places such as South Dakota – and a recent report for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture suggests Cain is way out in front.

In raw numbers, crop agriculture generates more than twice as many jobs and generates nearly twice in dollars within the South Dakota economy.

The numbers about the size of the different sectors of agriculture come from the 2014 South Dakota Ag Economic Contribution Study, released at the start of October. The study was prepared for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture by Decision Innovation Solutions with assistance from South Dakota State University and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Here’s a closer look:

Data from 2012 suggests crop production and further processing accounts for $13.3 billion statewide, generating 70,104 jobs.

Livestock production and further processing adds up to $8.6 billion statewide and generates 30,303 jobs.

Output: The report notes that crops and livestock, when added to other agricultural activities, add up to nearly 30 percent of the total output of the South Dakota economy. More specifically, crop industries make up 16 percent of the state’s output while livestock industries make up 10 percent and other agricultural activities make up 4 percent.

Some other industries and their contributions to the South Dakota economy include manufacturing, accounting for 16 percent of total state output; government, 10 percent; the financial sector, 8 percent; construction, 8 percent; services, 8 percent; wholesale, 3 percent; retail, 2 percent; mining, 1 percent; information, 1 percent.

Jobs: The Ag Economic Contribution study calculates that crops, livestock and other agriculture supports one in five South Dakota jobs, or 20 percent. More specifically, 12 percent of state jobs come from crop industries, while 5 percent come from the livestock sector and 3 percent come from other agricultural activities.

Other sources of jobs by sector include government, accounting for 17 percent of jobs; services, accounting for 13 percent; manufacturing, generating 10 percent of jobs; and construction, 8 percent.