I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Governor’s AG Summit in Sioux Falls. The Summit began with a field trip to visit two very different farms: Alderson Farms and Cherry Rock Farms.
Alderson Farms is a feedlot operated by Brian Alderson, a fourth-generation farmer who graduated from the University of South Dakota and came home to take over his families’ cow/calf operation. He began to think outside the box and transformed the small feedlot into a large pit confinement barn. We all want our fresh beef, but if you are like me, the smell of a feed yard precedes itself, especially when the wind is mixed with a little rain! I was pleasantly surprised that while visiting the Alderson’s pit confinement feed barn, there was very little smell, no flies and the cows were so content that I didn’t hear one peep out of them for the 90 minutes we were there. Did I mention that it was a windy, rainy day? As towns and cities encroach on our rural farms, I believe we will need to take a serious look at this type of innovative thinking. Alderson Farms currently manages a 600-head above-ground pit confinement operation that includes a center conveyor belt that automatically feeds the cattle each day, saving Mr. Alderson thousands of hands-on work hours per year.
Our second stop was Cherry Rock Farms, a family-owned, and operated produce farm founded in 1925. Located on the banks of Split Rock River in Brandon, South Dakota, the Patzer farm continues to grow produce that is non-GMO, pesticide, and herbicide-free. Marco and Laura are fourth-generation growers who moved back to South Dakota to take over the family farm and carry on the tradition of providing responsibly grown, high-quality produce for Sioux Falls, Brandon, and surrounding areas. Their hope is that their children will be the fifth generation to carry on the legacy. They also promote other local growers by partnering with them to offer customers top-quality products such as free-range eggs, honey, jams, salsas, meats, mushrooms and more.
These are just two examples of our amazing South Dakotan families whose children have gone off to college and/or left the state and have returned to carry on the legacy that is South Dakota! A trend that I believe will continue to grow as metropolitan areas become overpopulated, and more restrictive.
As South Dakotans, whether fourth- or fifth-generation or brand-new residents, we need to understand and support the different facets and industries within all of our communities.
The list of benefits that the AG Community provides to South Dakota is long, but here are just a few reasons why the AG industry is important to our state:
Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry with more than a $21 billion impact each year.
Agriculture employs 115,000 South Dakotans.
Agriculture contributes $645 million to the state’s tax revenues.
Ultimately, agriculture is a national security issue because it supplies a safe, abundant, and affordable food source for our state and our country.
Our ranchers and growers are the caretakers of the land, safeguarding it for generations to come while helping to preserve South Dakota’s economy and lifestyle.
We, the general consumer, need to proactively support our AG community!! Buy local and say thank you to the AG producers and growers in your community. If you ever have a chance to attend the Governor’s AG Summit or take a tour of a local agricultural operation, please, seize the opportunity... You won’t be disappointed!
State Rep. Trish Ladner, Republican, represents District 30, which is south of Rapid City.