Agriculture & Rural Life

The South Dakota Democratic Party recognizes the importance of agriculture, not only to our farm and ranch families, but also to the entire state and nation as the source of healthy, wholesome, affordable supply of food and fiber for our citizens.

95 percent of the farms and ranches in South Dakota are independent, family-owned operations and are responsible for the care and sustainable management of over 90 percent of the land in our state. The family farms and ranches of South Dakota provide not only the economic base that sustains our communities, but provide a proud culture and heritage for our entire state.

We, the Democratic Party:

• Recognize that improvements of family agricultural production in South Dakota are important for ongoing rural economic vitality in our state. The tools needed to achieve these ends include, but are not limited to: research and development of value-added projects, development of producer-owned and operated cooperatives, programs and services that promote training and sustaining viable farm and ranch production units, and creating educational opportunities for our youth, such as 4-H, FFA, and Career and Technical Education, improvement of financial aid and other programs to assist rural areas to finance and build further processing for agricultural products, rural development, renewable energy and other new projects good for South Dakota and all its citizens.

• Encourage coordination of programs and relevant agencies on all levels so that food, agriculture and natural resource conservation policies are linked together to provide appropriate private incentives to protect our state’s natural resources while continuing to responsibly produce our agricultural products. An economically strong agriculture is essential to allow producers to properly manage the multiple uses of our natural resources for future generations using best management practices.

• Understand agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry; therefore the South Dakota State Fair should be financially supported by the state of South Dakota to sustain a valuable institution that is an integral part of our way of life.

• Encourage a coordinated, comprehensive review of water drainage regulations as they pertain to agriculture, recreation, and wildlife habitat for a coordinated management approach similar to our neighboring states Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.

• Support the nationwide implementation of the conservation security program and programs of similar nature that provide monetary incentives with support for time specific easements, for farmers and ranchers to implement and maintain stewardship of South Dakota’s natural resources.

Marketing and Competition
• Support and encourage efforts to end monopolization and anti-competitive behavior in our agricultural markets. South Dakota needs to aggressively pursue the enforcement of the existing Packers and Stockyards Act and actively support the USDA and U.S. Department of Justice investigations into anti-competitive behavior of the livestock, poultry, dairy, and grain industry.

• Support Country of Origin Labeling for all food products.

• Support the development of local food production with continued support of existing legal structures for cooperative marketing, provide mentorship for beginning cooperative marketing operations and South Dakota Department of Agriculture provide staff to assist development of cooperative marketing businesses. Local food production will enhance rural social fabric by increasing property ownership among rural populations therefore increasing local government participation and financial support for school districts, fire districts, and local churches.

• Acknowledge tribal government lands require enhanced agriculture production education, local food production and efficient distribution systems.

• Encourage all agriculture producers to use all the tools available to competitively market their products, including but not limited to the use of age and source verification programs, value-added product development, and the use of organic, grass-fed and natural product labels.

• Support the expanded marketing of a high octane, low carbon, fuel such as E30 that is available today, environmentally friendly, and meets the needs of the public fuel market

Livestock Production
• Recognize the importance of a strong brand inspection program for South Dakota and encourage impartial and transparent administration of this program for the benefit of all the stakeholders.

• Support disease prevention, eradication, and traceability programs that are developed and managed by the South Dakota Animal Industry Board and are coordinated with surrounding state and federal authorities. We do not support a federally-mandated national identification program.

• Support science-based common-sense animal care and husbandry standards for livestock animals under the control of the Animal Industry Board.

Local Control
• Believe that local control of planning and zoning are the rights of our state’s individual counties and we support the people’s right to initiated measure and referendum of the rules.

• Support the right of school districts to make local decisions about the social significance of schools in our rural communities and closing their schools.

Agriculture Land Taxation
• Support the full implementation of a production-based tax assessment system for agricultural land. We recognize that adjustments to the system are necessary but adjustments should be made in a way that retains the production-based system of assessment.

Homegrown Fuels
• Support the continued development and use of our homegrown, renewable fuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass fuels. Additionally, we encourage the expansion of alternative feed-stock sources for the production of ethanol and biodiesel.

• Support expanding research for advanced uses of biofuels by-products such as but not limited to plastics, livestock feed, and fertilizer, which will lead to stronger demand and higher prices for South Dakota commodities, the creation of quality jobs, and the development of new industries that will be a considerable part of our State’s future economy.

• Support the continued use and expansion of wind and solar energy development in South Dakota; including research on responsible energy storage options.

• Support a well-funded program for the construction and maintenance of our local infrastructure. Properly funded roads and bridges will enhance the safety of our school children on school buses, improve agriculture distribution, tourism industry, and emergency services. This will create a more stable social and economic livelihood for all of South Dakota.

• Support a competitive and enhanced railroad system that provides timely movement of agriculture products to markets. Additionally, we support Federal Surface Transportation Board weekly status reports on movement of agriculture products by Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian Pacific railroads. This will include weekly reports on backlogs of grain cars.

• Support extension of high-speed broadband access to all citizens of South Dakota.

• Support increased access to dependable cell phone services across South Dakota.