Celebrating our agricultural heritage
On March 25th our country celebrates National Agriculture Day. We honor the farmers and ranchers whose ingenuity and dedication has enabled them to continue to provide a stable and affordable food supply for our country and the world, even when faced with adverse weather and numerous challenges.
National Ag Day is especially meaningful to those of us from states like South Dakota whose number one industry is agriculture. In South Dakota, agriculture extends beyond the field boundaries of family farms; it is a building block of our communities. Our communities’ appreciation for agriculture was perhaps no more evident than this past winter when thousands of farmers, ranchers, and neighbors with no direct association to agriculture, banded together lending a helping hand to the those who suffered tragic livestock losses due to winter storm Atlas.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a recent study by Colorado State University named South Dakota as the top agribusiness-friendly state, meaning it has the best economic climate for agriculture in the United States. The results of this study are another example of what makes South Dakota great – its people, their support for one another, and their collaborative effort to make South Dakota’s businesses thrive.
As we salute our farmers and ranchers, we also must remember those who support the agriculture industry throughout the state. From the truckers who tirelessly haul livestock and grain away from the farms and ranches, to the veterinarians who treat livestock, to the equipment dealers and manufacturers, all play their part in keeping our agriculture industry strong while employing thousands of people in our state.
I recently attended the Western Corn Belt Precision Ag Conference in Sioux Falls, and I walked away encouraged about the future of agriculture in South Dakota. Precision planting and other technology available today for those who wish to use it will enable farmers to efficiently produce more food on existing land and continue to keep our food costs affordable.
As a Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I was able to include several land stewardship policies in the 2014 Farm Bill that will enable farmers not only to maximize production, but to preserve their less productive land and South Dakota’s diverse landscape.
Both the latest agriculture technology and land stewardship tools in the Farm Bill provide exciting opportunities for farming and ranching into the future, and will give us all even more reasons to be proud of South Dakota’s agricultural heritage.