Rural Reflections: Time to thank all those in agriculture

Farm Forum

Appreciation. In a world of hard work, it’s one of those things that those in the workforce list as one of the top motivators.

In the independent world of agriculture, farmers and ranchers go about the business of raising crops and livestock to feed people across the country with little fanfare or recognition.

Consumer groups are more likely to attack some common agricultural practices than praise what we do. Not often do we hear, “Great job, thanks for all you do to raise the food this country depends on each and every day.”

Satisfaction comes from walking among livestock, discerning the characteristics of the animals that the consumer demands. It comes from taking animals to the sale barn and hearing strangers comment on the great quality of the animals.

For crop farmers, some of the affirmation may come from a crop advisor noting that the field looks like it will yield high rates. It might come from a comment made by someone driving by a field or a trucker at an elevator.

As our state celebrates its 125th anniversary here are some of the many reasons those of us involved in agriculture have to cheer:

• Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, with a $20.9 billion economic impact. We help feed the world with South Dakota in the top 10 in the production of 25 agricultural commodities. And we’re No. 1 in the production of bison, oats and sunflowers.

• Cows outnumber people by more than a 4-to-1 ratio. The January 1, 2014, beef cow inventory total stood at 1.635 million head.

• You can stop at most any farmhouse and get a welcome reception. And if you’re in trouble, most won’t mind if you borrow a tractor if you need one.

• Roughly 40 percent of the corn produced in South Dakota goes towards ethanol production. There are 15 ethanol plants in the state, which produce almost 1 billion gallons per year, which is 10% of the nation’s ethanol supply.

• South Dakota has the nation’s highest number of farmer-owned ethanol plants and is fourth in total ethanol production.

• South Dakotans involved in agriculture are great stewards of the land.

• We have the Sheep Capital of the United States at Newell, which also has one of the coolest school nicknames in the nation — the Irrigators.

• South Dakota spring wheat production was forecast at 54.6 million bushels for 2014 with estimated acres to be harvested at 1.27 million acres. On average 10% of wheat stays in state and is used for seed, feed and is stored. The other 90% leaves the state. Of that 25% leaves the county.

• Our weather will whip up uniqueness, such as the great tumbleweed invasion of Mobridge in the fall of 1989. It’s a constant topic of conversation for those who depend on Mother Nature for favorable conditions to grow food for the world.

• There are about 31,800 farms in the state, where many of our young people develop a work ethic that is second to none.

• South Dakota is a place where farm auctions are for buying and for catching up with what the neighbors are doing.

• We put our wind to good use through wind energy and hot-air balloons.

• We have more than 2 million acres of Houdek, a soil not found in any other state.

• We have the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, where hundreds of wild mustangs run free on several thousand scenic acres.

• In 2013, 5.86 million acres of corn were planted, resulting in a harvest of 809 million bushels; average yield – 138 bushels per acre.

• No two sunrises or sunsets are ever the same, especially visible when you live on the land that your ancestors homesteaded.

• Sometimes, our “traffic jams” involve cattle, tractors or combines.

• 176 million bushels of soybeans are produced in South Dakota in 2013. 25 percent of harvest soybeans are shipped directly from the farm to export position or crusher.

• When tragedy is encountered, family, friends, neighbors and strangers answer the call.

Each year, the Ag Committee of the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce works with the business community to organize the Ag Appreciation Event, which will be Nov. 14 this year. The Farm Forum works with the committee to recognize and celebrate the work of one of the area’s farm families. While only one will be chosen for 2014, know that we appreciate all that you do in your farm or ranch operation. You are important to us. The world wouldn’t be the same without the work you do. Thank you.