Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Keeping South Dakota Ag on Offense


Keeping South Dakota Ag on Offense

By: Governor Kristi Noem
June 21, 2024

Farmers are some of the biggest gamblers I know. They go to a bank, borrow money to buy land – borrow more money to buy equipment. Then they go back and get an operating note so they can buy seed, fertilizer, and chemical. And then they bury it all in the dirt. They pray that it might rain, that something might grow, and that they’ll have something to sell so that they can pay back those loans.

But if we didn’t have people willing to make that gamble, then families across the country and around the world wouldn’t have food to put on the table. 

Their work is not easy – and we have so much appreciation for our ag producers.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s most important industry for good reason. We feed the world. We have more cows-per-person than any state. I am tremendously proud of that fact. About 95% of South Dakota farms are still family-owned and operated. Ag contributes more than $32 billion to our state’s economy – about 30% of our economic output. 

When ag prospers, South Dakota prospers; when droughts hit or markets slide, everyone feels that, too.

Thankfully, South Dakota’s economy is booming. But we are not leaving ag behind in all this growth. My Governor’s Office of Economic Development has identified Precision Ag and Value-Added Ag as key sectors of our economy to grow and develop. Our Dairy industry
is one of South Dakota’s fastest-growing economic engines. And with new food production coming in, like the state-of-the-art Asian food production plant that Schwan’s is building in Sioux Falls, we are not slowing down.

With all the growth we have seen, it is vital that we keep farmers farming. My team is constantly focusing on ag’s growth – asking questions like what’s the next opportunity, the next innovation, the next risk to take? 

We want to keep South Dakota ag on offense. And to do that, I’m happy to play defense wherever necessary.

Attacks on Ag are coming from both within and from outside of our nation. The Biden Administration seems determined to put as much red tape and regulations in our producers’ way as possible. I have testified against such regulations in front of Congress, and I am working to challenge whatever unconstitutional regulations the Biden Administration puts in our way.

We decided a long time ago that it is important that we grow our own food in this country – that we have a diverse, safe food supply that provides for our people without undue foreign interference. So we are defending South Dakota ag from undue foreign influence.  

This past legislative session, I signed legislation to protect South Dakota ag land from being purchased by six “Evil Foreign Governments” and their agents. The Chinese Communist Party has increased their holdings of American ag land by more than 5000% in the last 10 years. These Communist dictators are not our friends. They are not our allies. They should not be our neighbors.

My dad always told me, “Kristi, God’s not making any more land.” In a lot of ways, our land is our most precious asset, and we should encourage one another to be visionary about protecting our farms. We shouldn’t be selling that asset to nations that hate us – and now we have the laws in place to stop that from happening.

Ag is so important to our economy, and it’s also important to the future of our nation. South Dakota will continue to focus on how to keep ag growing and thriving for the future.

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