Things with feathers: A year of reporting

Rebekah Tuchscherer

Agriculture is, without argument, South Dakota’s leading industry.

Ranchers herd cattle in the west. All kinds of livestock pepper the east. Pheasant hunters flock from near and far during the fall, and I-90 travelers can’t make it through South Dakota without seeing sunflowers, soybeans, corn, and golden fields of wheat rolling in the wind.

Even if you tried, you couldn’t ignore the impact that agriculture has on South Dakota’s day-to-day life. And while the Farm Forum’s always had an editor, the last newspaper to have an agriculture reporter was the Argus Leader — and that ended back in 2013.

But, after gaining some solid footing over the past three months, I’m pumped to start, in earnest, getting the presses rolling for those South Dakota ag stories once again. And what a year to do so.

To start, 2021 will no longer seeC two state-level departments, including one for agriculture and another for environment and natural resources.

Instead, the two will officially be combined into one department called the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

While Gov. Kristi Noem and Hunter Roberts, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary who’s set to head the newly combined department, have made it out to be a “streamlining” process, those on both the agriculture and environment sides of the aisle are worried that toes might get stepped on in the name of economic gains.

2021 will also be the first year that farmers can legally grow industrial hemp after October’s stamp of approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Considering the trouble that some Iowa farmers had with their first hemp crop exceeding federal THC limits, it could make trouble for what will be, potentially, a bumper crop of first-time hemp farmers.

Of course, that’s not all — 2021 will be filled with water quality reports, potential droughts, continuing COVID-19 effects and more. I’m just glad that I’ll be here to tell y’all about it.

Here’s wishing you a happy new year, and a 2021 filled with more good news than bad.

Rebekah Tuchscherer Farm Forum editor