With the release of the USDA Ag Census a few weeks back, we learned that during the past five years South Dakota has seen a decline in the average size of farms, an increase the number of total farmers and a stagnant age of the average farmer. Which is all good news, especially with the growing number of young farmers coming back to raise livestock and care for the land.
The other good news from the Ag Census is the dramatic increase in the market value of agricultural products produced in South Dakota. From 2007-2012, data showed that the market value of ag products sold in the state had increased from roughly $6.5 billion to $10.1 billion respectively. No other industry in South Dakota can say they have increased their sales by $3.6 billion over a five-year timespan.
Most of the increases come from crop production. During the five-year period, crop production values increased by $2.7 billion. Livestock production values also posted a nice increase with a boost of around $900 million.
These dramatic increases make it easy to see why South Dakota was able to weather the latest recession so well compared to other states. While we don’t have exact figures to share, there’s no doubt that these increases have created additional job opportunities for young farmers and recent college and technical school grads, along with increases in the new construction of ag businesses, barns, shops and homes across the state.
Agriculture is far and away South Dakota’s number one industry with an annual economic impact of over $20 billion, and these statistics from the latest Ag Census confirm that opportunities for South Dakotans within agriculture will continue to grow.