PIERRE — March Madness – South Dakota style: Around-the-clock trips to the lambing barn or the calving pen to ensure newborn animals take that ever so important first drink loaded with the nutrients, energy and antibodies vital for survival. Outguessing the weather conditions for the upcoming growing season. Deciding which crop to plant, where, at what seeding rates and what fertility levels. Predicting which weeds, insects and diseases will try to overtake my crops. These challenges can make filling out your NCAA bracket seem like breeze!
Whether it’s realized or not, the decisions our producers make impact virtually every South Dakotan in some way or another. Farmers, ranchers, agribusiness men and women and other agricultural workers provide a large amount of our state’s economic impact annually. Twenty percent of all the jobs in South Dakota, or one in every five, is connected in some way to agriculture. We have 31,000 farm and ranch families who grow a wide variety of products every year that make their way into our homes and onto our kitchen tables every day. Despite this, we may not always take the time to think about how large of an impact agriculture has on our everyday lives.
Because of all that agriculture does for us, we celebrate National Ag Week March 19th through March 25th. This week gives us all a chance to reflect on the many ways agriculture impacts us on a daily basis. From the steak and salad on your plate, to the cotton in your jeans, to the ethanol in your fuel tank, agricultural products are all around us. Agriculture even plays a role in developing medicines to combat a variety of diseases.
As you cheer on your favorite team this week, I encourage you to also think about the food on your table, the fiber in your clothes and the many other agriculture products around you. Reflect on the many hands that worked to bring those items to you and your family. And, if you see an agricultural producer, be sure to pass along a game winning ‘high five’!
— Mike Jaspers, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture
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