Reality check at Pierre events

Farm Forum

by Connie Sieh Groop, Farm Forum Editor

I’m in Pierre this week, attending two very different events.

Tuesday, at the Oahe Farm and Ranch show, events were spread across the Oahe Speedway grounds. New planters, tractors, trucks and disks were mixed in with exhibitors showing everything from new ways to handle planting problems to innovations in technology and plant science. Demonstrations on fire safety, animal handling and aerial spraying were mixed in with presentations about estate planning, steps to improve crop yields and the advantages of no-till cropping.

Getting away from the office for a few days gave me a chance to hear the various presentations, meet new people and share new ideas. Changes made in the Farm and Ranch show appeared to draw good crowds.

Ruth Beck, SDSU Extension Agronomy Field Specialist offered information along with a bag of lentils to sample. A group is putting together a pulse processing plant to be located in Harrold. Ruth explained that a number of people are interested in growing pulse crops such a lentils, peas and chickpeas. Currently, South Dakota pulse crops are grown for seed or marketed through a few companies.

The new facility planned by South Dakota Pulse Processors would purchase lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans from farmers in South Dakota and process them into a value-added product for customers. They anticipate exporting approximately 60% of the product to international markets. According to their website, South Dakota Pulse Processors is poised to start processing dry pulses, including splitting, milling, grading and grinding by the first quarter of 2014. The initial capacity will be 550,000 bushels per year of mixed products. I’m looking forward to trying the South Dakota grown lentils and learning more about how this venture is progressing.

Ag Summit

I finished up this week’s column Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I will be at the Governor’s Ag Summit at the Ramkota. I expect the venue will be a lot cooler and chairs a bit more comfortable. Former Congressman Charles Stenholm is the speaker, and his advance material says he will address the importance of technology in providing tools to South Dakota farmers. I wish he could have walked through the Oahe Farm and Ranch Show with me to look at some of the advances. Better yet, it would be great to bring those in Congress who spend hours debating amendments to the Farm Bill to spend a few hours learning about agriculture in the beautiful wide open spaces from the hard-working men and women who love this land.