Letter to the editor: Vote yes for progress

Farm Forum

How often in aging, rural South Dakota, does millions of dollars in economic development and good-paying jobs come knocking at your door? The honest answer is not as often as we would all like and in most cases, never.

The proposed Ring-Neck Energy and Feed ethanol plant presents just that to the community of Onida, Sully County and the surrounding area with an incredible and exciting opportunity to not only grow, but thrive with a state-of-the-art, value-added, biofuel and livestock feed facility.

Current ethanol jobs in communities with existing plants are hot commodities with the average ethanol employee in South Dakota making $60,000 per year. Jobs like these give educated young people a chance to return to their roots in rural South Dakota to raise a family and earn a comfortable living.

It’s without a doubt that if the ethanol plant is built, main street businesses will grow, the school system will grow, real estate values will grow, the tax base will grow and the value-added ag economy will flourish.

This new facility would consume approximately 22 million bushels of corn along with sorghum, providing a local and stable market for area farmers who have been faced with lower prices due to a lack of market opportunities and uncertainty when it comes to rail access.

On top of clean-burning biofuels, this facility would produce nearly 200,000 metric tons of distillers grain, providing local access to a high-protein livestock feed that is demanded by feeders at home across the globe.

To address the Onida residents concerned about air quality via plant emissions, there are an enormous amount of regulations currently in place from both the federal and state government. This plant will be built using the latest technology and will constantly be monitoring its emissions to ensure public safety. In fact this plant will not be given the permit to operate until they have proven their ability to do so. The stacks coming off ethanol plants in operation today are actually boiler steam, and smell is simply yeast from the fermentation process.

The state of South Dakota was built on value-added agriculture and the past decade has been a shining example of what ethanol production can do for rural America when it comes to increases in job growth, GDP, tax revenues and national energy security.

Cast a ‘yes’ vote in the name of progress and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the good people in Sully County and the next several generations to follow.

This is rural development at its finest folks.