I was surprised that North Dakota’s and South Dakota’s governors didn’t say much about agriculture in their state-of-the-state addresses this week.
Agriculture is still the No. 1 industry in South Dakota and is probably tied with oil and mining in North Dakota.
But N.D. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a farmer himself, only mentioned agriculture twice in his speech. Once it was in reference to an agritourism venture. The second was about CHS’ plans to build a fertilizer manufacturing plant Instead, he seemed to talk mostly about oil.
S.D. Gov. Dennis Daugaard only said “agriculture” when he noted the Department of Agriculture’s success battling pine beetles in Custer State Park and eliminating old regulations. When talking about need the create jobs, he said that Bel Brands was building a new cheese plant in Brookings. Gov. Daugaard seemed to spend most of his time talking about the need to build two new prisons.
There’s plenty of things agricultural topics that the governors could talked about, and I know that some of following item -- and others -- are on their administration's agenda for the legislative session.
Ag research is vital and underfunded.
The Extension services need more money. You can do more with less forever.
Farms need to become more resilient. More tiling and irrigation would not only help farmers, but they also ensure that the ethanol plants, dairies and feedlots have a steady supply of grain.
More locally owned ag processing ventures would be a boon. They create jobs and investment opportunities.
Ways needs to be found to make it possible for counties and township to say “yes” more often to rural development projects. A lack of money to maintain roads shouldn’t be grounds for denying permits for new feedlots, dairy barns and processing plants. After all, they increase tax revenue.
Perhaps none of these topics rise to the level of being included in a state-of-the-state address.
But that’s discouraging. The on-going success of the Dakotas’ biggest, greenest, most sustainable and most fundamental industry should not be taken for granted.