The mission of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture is to promote, protect, preserve and improve South Dakota Agriculture for today and tomorrow. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for the promotion and enhancement of South Dakota Agriculture, and for the implementation of a variety of state laws relating to agriculture.
Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, with a $20.9 billion economic impact. There are about 31,800 farms in the state, and the impact from the crop and the livestock industries is equally divided. The eastern half of the state, which receives more precipitation, is generally better suited for raising crops. The more arid western half is dominated by grassland and beef cattle.
Half of the state’s farms raise cattle and about one-quarter of all agricultural cash receipts come from cattle and calves. Other livestock enterprises are important too. South Dakota producers raise hogs, dairy cattle and sheep. South Dakota leads the nation in bison and pheasant production.
South Dakota is the first state to have a government initiated certified beef program, SOUTH DAKOTA CERTIFIED™ Beef. This program offers enhanced marketing potential for beef from cattle born, raised and processed in South Dakota according to specific production and management practices.
South Dakota’s main crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Roughly 40 percent of the corn produced in South Dakota goes towards ethanol production. There are 15 ethanol plants in the state, which produce almost 1 billion gallons per year, which is 10% of the nation’s ethanol supply. South Dakota has the nation’s highest number of farmer-owned plants and is fourth in total ethanol production.
South Dakota ranks near the top in a vast array of areas, including corn, what, sunflowers, flax, soybeans, alfalfa, oats, hay, bison, pheasants, honey, cattle, sheep and swine. This tremendous variety speaks to the productivity of our land and the skill of our producers.
Specialty crops play a small part in South Dakota agriculture, but this industry is rapidly expanding. Since the state legislature passed the Farm Winery Act sixteen years ago, twenty-one licensed wineries have been established.