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Agriculture is No.1 in South Dakota

Posted by Erik Gerlach, South Dakota State Statistician, National Agricultural Statistics Service in Research and Science
Jul 26, 2019
A cow and a calf
South Dakota has nearly 4 million cattle and calves, which is almost five animals per person living in the state.

Every summer, families across the country turn their thoughts to vacation. Many will travel to South Dakota. Each year, approximately 3 million tourists from all over the world visit Mount Rushmore to experience the patriotic site. Millions more will enjoy the stunning views of Badlands National Park and abundant wildlife roaming through Custer State Park. But while South Dakota may be nicknamed The Mount Rushmore State, South Dakota always has been, and will continue to be, an agricultural state. Agriculture is the life-blood of South Dakota and the state’s No. 1 industry.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture released in April, our farmers and ranchers sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products in 2017. Our farmers tend to focus on major field crops, like corn, soybeans, and wheat. More than 5 million acres of our farmland was planted to corn in 2017, giving us the sixth largest corn acreage among all states. Both soybeans and wheat covered 5.6 million and 1.3 million acres of farmland, respectively. South Dakota was among the top 10 states in acreage for both of these important commodities.

Our livestock sector is also very strong with both cattle inventory and sales ranking among the top 10 states in the nation. The Census counted almost 4 million head of cattle and calves in South Dakota, which generated over $3 billion dollars in sales. The number of milk cows in the state grew over 38 percent from 2012, while the inventory of hogs and pigs grew 31 percent over the same period.

Thank you to all the producers who completed their Census. Learn more about the livestock, crops, and producers in South Dakota from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Other Census products recently released include the State and County Profiles, Congressional District Profiles, and the Watersheds Report.

Category/Topic: Research and Science