More Than Meets The Eye: A Look at Agriculture's Impact in Rural America

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Throughout the year, we will run campaigns encouraging everyone to "Thank-A-Farmer". The underlying theme in that campaign is the idea that farmers are the one's putting food on your table. However, that doesn't quite tell the whole story. A recent report by Mitchell Technical Institute states that South Dakota farmers and ranchers each spent nearly $1.1 million on average in 2015, the majority of which was spent locally. What does that mean? Well, it means that agriculture is South Dakota's number one industry. It means that South Dakota's farmers and ranchers are doing much more than putting food on your table. They are supporting your local communities. Of course we can make the obvious connections as farmers support the local implement dealer, seed dealer, or car dealer. However, the impacts producers have on local economies are more far reaching than that. You see the dollar doesn't stop at those local dealers. Those employees of the dealers in turn spend their paychecks in that local community. So now you have producers, and those with jobs directly supported by producers, spending money at the local grocery store, pharmacy, dentist, and you get the point. Not to mention adding in the value added operations, like ethanol plants. It's been reported that the renewable fuel industry supports 26,746 jobs throughout South Dakota with an impact of nearly $7 billion. All of which is not possible without South Dakota's producers. Why am I telling you this? For one, it's my job to tell the story of this state's farmers and ranchers. It's a story that they are often too humble to tell themselves. But two, because times are getting tough in the farm economy. There are reports of potential record highs in subsidy payouts in 2016. So it is important for everyone to understand the value and worth of our farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. These subsidy programs that critics proclaim as "handouts" are not just supporting the producer, they support all of rural America. So please, thank a farmer if you have the chance. Not just because they feed you, but because your community probably wouldn't survive without them.

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