Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Advancing Agriculture

Advancing Agriculture
By Governor Kristi Noem

Agriculture is the foundation of South Dakota’s economy and our number one industry – by a significant margin. All in all, it contributes about $25.6 billion to the economy, so when ag prospers, South Dakota prospers. Of course, when droughts hit or markets slide, everyone feels that too.

As a lifelong farmer and rancher, I know the challenges that come with the business. I know the stress that comes when you take out loans, bury that money in the ground in the form of seed and fertilizer, and hope not only for a good yield, but for the right market conditions at the right time. It’s a tough business. But I understand why folks do it. It’s a special job to feed the world – to know that the product of your labor brings families together around a dinner table, to know that your work makes a real difference.

As governor, I’m utilizing my experience as a lifelong producer to advance agriculture in our state. And as the first farmer and rancher team to serve as governor and lieutenant governor, I believe Larry and I have the unique knowledge and background to accomplish big things for ag. From protecting property rights to expanding markets, my administration is committed to developing the state’s agricultural economy and give more young people the opportunity to thrive as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota.

This year, we are focusing on growth in the ag economy by transferring Ag Development Representatives from the Department of Agriculture to my office of economic development. This makes sense, because ag development is economic development.

For years, these two departments have largely performed the same functions when it comes to ag development. This move will consolidate resources and brainpower, supply more tools for development, eliminate red tape, and create a better approach to developing our largest industry. I believe it will create a lasting infrastructure for the next generation.

Additionally, I am continuing to leverage my federal network to promote South Dakota ag. I might not be traveling to DC every week anymore, but I’ve continued conversations with President Trump, Secretary Sonny Perdue, and other ag leaders to keep South Dakota agriculture in the national spotlight – especially when it comes to trade. Farmers want trade, not aid. Producers don’t want federal bailouts. We crave expanded market opportunities. We need level playing fields. This has been a frequent conversation I’ve had with President Trump.

I’m grateful for the outcomes we’ve seen as a result. Late last year, I was glad to see the president’s support of farm country when he lifted restrictions on year-round E15, a move that will help consume another 2 billion bushels of corn, while potentially saving consumers up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump.

The state fleet is leading by example on prioritizing ethanol consumption. In my first few weeks as governor, I’ve launched the process of transitioning the state vehicle fleet to E30, further maximizing the use of homegrown fuels and revolutionizing the way we fuel both our vehicles and our economy. I strongly believe South Dakota can be an example to the nation on emphasizing ethanol as a means toward bolstered market opportunities and energy independence.

I’m proud of our agriculture tradition in South Dakota. Our ag industry is special – it’s our legacy, our culture. We must do everything we can to ensure the ag economy is ready to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers.


17 Replies to “Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Advancing Agriculture”

  1. David Barranco

    “And as the first farmer and rancher team to serve as governor and lieutenant governor, I believe Larry and I have the unique knowledge and background to accomplish big things for ag. From protecting property rights to expanding markets, my administration is committed to developing the state’s agricultural economy and give more young people the opportunity to thrive as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota.”

    Agree completely! Kristi and Larry’s leadership — protecting property rights, expanding markets, and growing the state economy — will do wonders for South Dakota over the next 8 years. Greater opportunity, higher wages, and increased job security benefit everyone. A rising tide lifts all boats.

    1. Anne Beal

      Maybe. Who will buy it? Raven, to manufacture tarps and stuff? Has anybody asked them?
      There’s fiber mills around processing wool but I don’t know if anybody is making linen any more, seems like all the flax is being fed to chickens.

      The hemp is worthless without somebody to sell it to.

  2. Tara Volesky

    That’s not your problem or the government. That is totally up to the farmer. Don’t let farmer lose their freedom.

    1. Anne Beal

      A friend of mine got suckered into planting Jerusalem artichokes. Some seed salesman told him he would make a lot of money.
      He couldn’t give them away.
      He gave me a couple to see if I could make something edible out of them but otherwise I don’t think he had any takers.

      1. Tara Volesky

        Not you or governments problem….that’s on the farmer. Sometimes you have to try different things. Doesn’t mean your are a failure. Some of the most successful people have had many failings in life, but they don’t quit.

  3. Anne Beal

    The North Country Fiber Fair will be in Watertown September 20-22, 2019. Exhibitors will be setting up in the Codington County Extension Complex.

    If you want to convince people that hemp is a good crop to grow, you had better be there or make sure some other processor is.

  4. Tara Volesky

    I don’t have to convince anybody, just do your research. I would be willing to take the risk. No problem. The biggest risk is trusting Government.

  5. Troy Jones

    The great thing about hemp is it is extremely versatile as it has a multitude of uses.

    The bad thing about hemp is its versatility results it doing nothing very well. Examples:

    1) Low end: It is the best bedding animal bedding out there for a host of reasons (ala absorbency of both order and moisture). Unfortunately, its competition are waste products (wood chips/straw) and free, near free or very cheap. Since the alternative is so low cost, you can more cheaply have odor and dry bedding by changing it more often.

    2) Mid-range: Paper. It is a good option for certain specialty papers but by definition “specialty paper” is a small market and thus doesn’t have much demand. And, as a option for more broadly used paper products, paper is a dying business as the world becomes more digital. Further the need for virgin cellulose for paper is declining as we become better at recycling.

    3a) High-end: Clothing: While giving cloth positive durability attributes, uses that demand that level of durability are small, it doesn’t have the good feel of cotton when natural fibers are desired, and the consumer’s use of synthetic fibers is growing as that continues to get better.

    3b) Fuel: It doesn’t compete even close with corn or other cellulose options which again are often waste/recycled alternatives except again in a few niche markets (think lanterns) because of its inherent oil is receptive to concentrated scented oils.

    There may be uses of hemp that will develop where market is more than niche. But, farmers with millions of assets “shouldn’t bet the farm” without greater evidence of a market. That said, we could put our toe in the water if its planting is justified by its cover crop values and usage by the farmer as an alternative to straw.

    Otherwise, I see it only as a shiny object that will ultimately disappoint.

  6. Tara Volesky

    Troy, that is not the decision of the government to decide what is best for the farmers. They can make their own decisions. If they want to grow hemp, let them. Very intrusive. Government doesn’t tell grocery stores what kind of hemp products they should buy.

    1. Anne Beal

      Tara you are missing the point: in the past hemp was superior for outdoor use, like rope, tarps, tents, and sails, but it has been replaced by nylon, which is more durable and lighter weight. Have you seen a canvas tent lately? How about awnings? Rope? Hemp can’t compete with synthetic fibers.

      Rayon is also made from cellulose, but from wood scraps, like sawdust. (And I am not a big fan because invariably rayon garments are not machine washable)

      Since the government is in the business of subsidizing farming operations whether we like it or not, it is reasonable for the government to discourage people from growing something that isn’t in demand.
      Hemp is not a crop which can be sold out of the back of a truck at a farmers’ market. The enthusiasm for the product is only in the minds of people with no clue as to how textiles are produced.

  7. Tara Volesky

    Let the Farmers decide that, not the government……Hemp has thousands of more uses than what you just stated. Its seeds and flowers are used in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceuticals. The fibers and stalks are used in hemp clothing, construction materials, paper, biofuel, plastic composites, and more.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.