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Best Of Times, Worst Of Times

Most of South Dakota agriculture is expereincing the best of times. Why is it the worst of times for South Dakota ag research and extension?

It’s ironic that most of South Dakota agriculture is experiencing the best of times while the state's ag research and extension service is experiencing the worst of times.

This week, in response to state and federal budget cuts, SDSU officials closed two of its seven agricultural experiment stations, cut 90 positions at the Brookings campus and in the ag experiment station system, closed all county extension offices and merged them in seven regional center, eliminated 20 out-state extension positions and cut faculty and research contracts from 12 months to 10 months. Those who have been cut are expected to find grant money for the other two months.

Perhaps some of the cuts and changes have perhaps been long overdue. Other state’s extension services operate out of regional centers and other universities pay faculty a 10-month base contract.

But why is the state so short of money when agriculture is doing so well?

The fact that state has no income tax is clearly a factor.

Unfortunately, the state’s sales and use tax appears inadequate in age when more and more people travel out of state and use the internet to buy goods and services.

South Dakota
farmers still ship most of their commodities out of the state to processing plants, feedlots and hog finishing barns where value is added and jobs are created. Ethanol has been the exception, but its future seems to be constantly in jeopardy.

Unless South Dakota addresses some of these fundamental structural problems with its economics, these cuts at SDSU may not be the last.

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