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Serving: West

New head of SD ag and natural resources answers producers’ questions

Walter Bibikow /Getty Images Fence across ranch land
PRODUCER QUESTIONS: Two South Dakota producers converse with the secretary of Ag and Natural Resources, a newly merged department.
Hunter Roberts, secretary for the new South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, responds to queries on livestock, labeling and more.

Hunter Roberts, the secretary of the newly merged Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, answers questions from South Dakota producers. The Departments of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources combined earlier in 2021.

Related: Merger of South Dakota agencies complete

Corson County rancher

Jerry Petik, a third-generation Corson County rancher, asks the following questions of Roberts:

To assist and encourage more transparency and fair prices of cattle, how do you plan to advocate at the federal level on behalf of House Concurrent Resolution 6006 passed by the 2021 South Dakota Legislature? The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains strong relationships with Sen. [John] Thune, Sen. [Mike] Rounds, Rep. [Dusty] Johnson and our partner agencies. We will continue to engage with them on these efforts. In addition, I’d encourage you to contact their offices and share your thoughts with them.

Secretary Tom Vilsack has indicated there may be an opportunity to reinstate country-of-origin labeling. What are your plans to assist him in these efforts? DANR does not directly implement country-of-origin labeling regulations. We will comply with applicable regulatory changes implemented by USDA and will continue to monitor the status of the COOL regulations. As you know, COOL was repealed in 2015 because the World Trade Organization ruled Canada and Mexico could begin imposing more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. products in response to the impacts COOL labeling requirements were having on them.

What is your plan when it comes to getting state-inspected meat certified to cross state lines? South Dakota is in the final stages of joining the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program. The CIS program allows state-inspected plants to operate as federally inspected facilities under specific conditions and ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally. DANR is excited about this opportunity to expand market options for South Dakota producers.

What are your plans when it comes to encouraging the development of local processing for South Dakota beef, grains and fiber (industrial hemp)? In March, Gov. Kristi Noem announced she would direct $5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to provide grants to expand meat processing capacity in South Dakota. DANR is implementing this program and expects to begin distributing funds in early June.

Outside of this program, economic development for the processing of grains and fiber is supported by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and local economic development corporations.

What are your plans when it comes to developing more foreign export markets and relationships for South Dakota products? DANR works with Food Export Midwest to evaluate export opportunities and assist producers seeking to export their products. Outside of this initiative, export development is largely handled by South Dakota checkoff organizations. Additionally, the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service and the United State Trade Representative dedicate nearly all their resources to develop and grow foreign markets.

We see quite a bit of state investment in research and development for precision agriculture. As a western South Dakota livestock producer, I’m interested in learning if there are plans for development of technology that is more user-friendly and applicable to our climate and needs? The South Dakota State University Cottonwood Field Station located between Wall and Philip has a long history of working on research and development projects specific to West River ranching activities. In 2018, those efforts were bolstered with the addition of SDSU’s West River Research Farm near Sturgis.

These facilities and SDSU’s West River Research and Extension office in Rapid City are part of the SDSU Agriculture Experiment Station research infrastructure whose goal is to enhance the quality of life in South Dakota through beneficial use and development of human, economic and natural resources. In 2021, the governor proposed, and the Legislature approved, $453,000 to the West River Research Farm, specifically for precision ranching activities. DANR continues to support these efforts and looks forward to learning more about how producers can utilize these developments to protect the environment and lower their costs.

For more information about SDSU’s efforts, visit its website or contact the West River Research and Extension office.

Union Center livestock producer

Tammy Basel, a Union Center sheep and cattle producer, asks Roberts the following questions:

Because trapping is an important tool for predator management, what are your plans to protect the bounty program and encourage more youth to engage in trapping? South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks manages the Nest Predator Bounty Program. The program is open to South Dakota residents, including youth hunters, through July, or until a maximum payout of $500,000 is reached.

In fact, last year 16% of program participants were 17 years old or younger. I hope to see these numbers continue to increase, especially, since the program is paying $10 per tail this year compared to $5 per tail last year.

In addition, DANR provides Game, Fish and Parks with $250,000 annually for animal damage control efforts. As a producer and member of the Animal Damage Control Advising Committee, I understand how important these efforts are.

What does your department plan to do to promote South Dakota wool and lamb? As with all agricultural products from South Dakota, DANR continues to promote the sheep industry whenever possible on social media and through the South Dakota State Fair. In addition, in March, Gov. Kristi Noem announced she would direct $5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to provide grants to expand meat processing capacity in South Dakota, which is good for all our producers.

DANR expects to begin distributing these funds in early June. Finally, South Dakota is in the final stages of joining the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program. The CIS program allows state-inspected plants to operate as federally inspected facilities under specific conditions and ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally. DANR is excited about these opportunities to expand market options for South Dakota producers.

Source: South Dakota Farmers Union, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries aren't responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

 

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