Noem Still Opposes Hemp Despite Federal Guidance

Nov 5, 2019
Office of Governor Kristi Noem

Governor Kristi Noem says she will continue to oppose industrial hemp, despite the USDA releasing a framework for states to follow.

She says legalizing hemp legalizes marijuana by default.

Governor Noem says she remains opposed to industrial hemp in South Dakota because of the impact it will have on public safety and law enforcement’s ability to enforce drug laws.

USDA Releases Draft Version Of Hemp Production Rules

Oct 29, 2019
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The USDA is releasing a draft version of its rules for a hemp production program.

The rules provide a framework for hemp production across the country.

One state lawmaker says a provision in the draft opens hemp production up to farmers whether a state has an approved plan or not.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association is among groups praising the Trump administration’s recent move to maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Congress created the RFS to expand the nation’s renewable fuel industry and reduce reliance on foreign oil, but oil companies are often granted exemptions to the standard’s production requirements, which reduces overall demand for ethanol.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The US Department of Agriculture is announcing hemp crop insurance coverage for the year 2020.

The chair of a legislative summer study looking into an industrial hemp program says that’s a big deal for South Dakota farmers who want to raise hemp.

However, the announcement doesn’t change Governor Kristi Noem’s opposition to industrial hemp legalization.

Jeremy Ludemann / SDPB

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited three communities in southeastern South Dakota Thursday and spoke about several developments while in the state. 


After speaking at a forum with ag producers in rural Lennox, Perdue addressed concerns about tariffs from China. He says finding new markets for crops and livestock is a way to respond. Perdue says he has a USDA undersecretary for trade who is charged with helping to open up additional opportunities for farmers beyond China. 

Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

Rural states like South Dakota rely heavily on federal funding.  Tribes also require federal dollars to maintain programs, roads, schools and even small business development.

With so many budgets and businesses hinging on the input of federal dollars.   There’s cautious optimism, and some uncertainty, among tribal and federal officials about the incoming Trump administration…

A group of representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture are touring the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of a Promise Zone initiative granted a few years ago.

Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Agriculture, discusses a federally sponsored, state-administered food program that provides suppers for children in South Dakota.

Trouble Brewing for Farm Markets

Sep 19, 2016
South Dakota Department of Agriculture

South Dakota farmers and ranchers may be heading for some challenging markets.  Prices of some crops and livestock are seeing drops in recent weeks.

However, state officials say commodity markets will recover over the long term.

The US Department of Agriculture released a report projecting record harvest numbers this fall. The study shows US farmers producing about 15 billion bushels of corn and more than 4 billion bushels of soybeans. These numbers are huge compared to previous projections. Officials are concerned this will affect the market.

Hawks for U.S. House

As one of South Dakota's largest industries, agriculture sows its way into the political landscape. Paula Hawks is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives. She cites country-of-origin labeling and loss of USDA's Conservation Reserve Program acres as major issues in state agriculture. She discusses the agriculture conversation in Washington, the Farm Bill, and preparations for the November election.

South Dakota Now Ranks Top 10 Hog Producers

Jul 18, 2016
South Dakota Department of Agriculture

South Dakota now ranks among the top ten hog producers in the nation.

June numbers from the Hogs and Pigs Report put out by the US Department of Agriculture shows South Dakota has over 190-thousand sows. Dr. Bob Thaler (TALLER) is the SDSU Extension Swine Specialist. He says the reason South Dakota is on the way up . . . is cost.

Beef Maybe Making A Comeback

Apr 5, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

Beef maybe making a comeback among us consumers including those in South Dakota. Studies predict that 2016 is going to see a bump in red meat consumption.  Cattle industry officials say this is good news for producers.

USDA Grant Helps Low Income People Make Housing Repairs

Aug 18, 2015

Worn houses with boarded windows are a common site when driving through parts of rural South Dakota. The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, has announced a program to help change this.

The new USDA effort helps qualifying low income homeowners pay for necessary housing repairs.   
This program is affecting some in Indian Country.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s, or USDA’s, new program provides grants and loans for some low income homeowners. These funds are used to make repairs that help people stay in their home for as long as they can.

With school out, children who rely on school lunches for food may be looking for a healthy meal. This summer the USDA is funding a toll-free hotline for kids and adults to call for information about free meal sites.

As part of the USDA’s Summer Foods Program, any child from across the country can call the nation toll-free hunger hotline. Based on a zip code, callers are then directed to the nearest food site where meals are provided by the USDA. Program Manager of the National Hunger Hotline Gina Bonilla says the meals are free to all kids with no enrollment requirements.

Avian flu is spreading across the country, and it’s shown up at six South Dakota turkey operations. Those farms are in counties including Beadle, Kingsbury, McCook, McPherson, Roberts and Spink. The virus moves rapidly when birds catch the H5N2 strain.

Avian flu viruses commonly exist in wild bird populations, and the latest version is spreading onto farms. It hits quickly. John Clifford is the Chief Veterinary Officer for the USDA.

A South Dakota Congresswoman and the leader of the US Department of Agriculture are at odds over nutrition standards in school lunch programs. Representative Kristi Noem is providing lawmakers legislation that eases the dietary guidelines for meals provided by schools.  

SDSU Extension

The total number of farms and ranches in South Dakota decreased last year by about 300 from 2013. That’s according to numbers recently released by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There were 31,700 farms and ranches in the state last year. Numbers of farms and ranches with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales declined by 400 compared to 2013 while operations with more than $100,000 were up by 100.


Honeybees are a backbone of agriculture production. An estimated $15 billion worth of crops are pollinated by honey bees, including more than 130 varieties of fruits and vegetables. But the population of honey bees has been declining in recent years due to such causes as colony collapse disorder.


The director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture was in South Dakota last week talking with biotech scientists and ag faculty. Sonny Ramaswamy spoke at the 2014 Livestock Biotech Summit in Sioux Falls and a seminar and forum and at South Dakota State University in Brookings.

The United States Secretary of Agriculture says a federal grant should increase efficiency for shipping grain in part of South Dakota. More than $12.6 million is going to rehabilitate a stretch of railroad the state owns in south-central South Dakota. The overall cost of the reconstruction is nearly $30 million. The project is one of 72 efforts across the country aimed at improving infrastructure and creating jobs.

Farm Bill Pays Out After SD Disasters

Jun 27, 2014
Kealey Bultena file photo

Disaster assistance through the USDA is now pouring into South Dakota following the enactment of the latest Farm Bill.

In the last 10 weeks the USDA has paid out $96-million dollars to farmers and ranchers following the 2012 drought and 2013 October blizzard.

Craig Schaunaman is the Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency in South Dakota.  He says the large numbers aren’t a surprise,  given the extent of both the drought and blizzard.   He says more federal assistance is on the way.  

Dakota Political Junkies

May 21, 2014

Kevin Woster of the KELO-TV Rapid City Bureau and Madison Daily Leader Publisher Jon Hunter performed in the role of SDPB's Dakota Political Junkies this week.  They discussed last Thursday's GOP Senate primary debate on SDPB-TV and the subsequent bickering among some of the candidates.  They also discussed why Independent candidate Clayton Walker was taken off the ballot for U.S. Senate, a new USDA grant to help fight pine beetles in the Black Hills National Forest and local and national concerns with the Veterans Administration.

Ranchers, USDA At Odds Over Brazilian Beef

Jan 22, 2014

The burger or steak on your dinner plate could come from Brazil if a new proposal by the USDA goes into effect.

The Federal Agency is now taking comments on the idea of re-opening the market to Brazilian beef imports.  The proposal could lower the price of beef for consumers.   But as SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports the idea irks many in the ranching industry.  

Federal Rulemaking Portal  where individuals can comment on the proposal is here. 

USDA's Weekly Crop Report

Sep 10, 2013

The USDA’s weekly crop report for South Dakota shows that corn silage harvest has started in some areas of the state.

Carter Anderson is State Director for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Survey.

"Still seeing above normal temperatures persisted across the state last week," says Anderson. "Corn development seems to be about close to average at 98 percent of the corn in the dough stage and that’s just slightly ahead of last year which was at 97 percent and then a five year average at 94 percent."

South Dakota Farmers Rank High

Aug 27, 2013

South Dakota farmers rank in the top 10 in the nation in the production of more than 15 crops.  A recent report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that South Dakota is tops in the production of bison and second in the production of honey, flaxseed, proso millet and sunflowers.  The state is in the top 10 in many other major crops including wheat, corn, soybeans and oats.  South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch says the latest statistics show that the state remains an agricultural powerhouse even without a large population.

National Homeownership Month

Jun 13, 2013

Elsie Meeks is the USDA Rural Development State Director and Lori Moen is the Grow SD Chief Operating Officer. Throughout June, USDA is marking National Homeownership Month by promoting the agency's efforts to provide affordable housing in small towns and rural communities, including tribal lands. In fiscal year 2012, USDA's Rural Development Department made 105 home loans to low-income borrowers in South Dakota and also guaranteed the mortgages on nearly 1300 homes sold or refinanced across the state.

Lost Lady Bug Project

Jun 7, 2013

USDA Research Entomologist Louis Hesler of the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory talked about the Lost Lady Bug Project.  The lab is based in Brookings.

USDA's O'Brien In South Dakota

Apr 10, 2013

Doug O'Brien, Deputy Under Secretary at the United States Department of Agriculture, is meeting with Tribal leaders and economic development officials across South Dakota to discuss ways the USDA can help strengthen local economies and create jobs.  He joined Karl Gehrke Wednesday on Dakota Midday.

USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan in South Dakota

Feb 27, 2013

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is in South Dakota through Thursday to announce new USDA grants to combat global hunger, promote rural business development and highlight the economic importance of local and regional food systems.  She is also bringing the USDA's college tour to South Dakota State University to discuss the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative and efforts to create new opportunities for farmers, ranchers and communities.

The U-S Department of Agriculture continues its College Tour in South Dakota Wednesday.  Deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan is at South Dakota State University. Merrigan will announce new USDA grants for research education and grants to combat U-S and world hunger. South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones says he’s excited to bring Merrigan to the state.  He says his agency will work with the USDA to create new ag opportunities.

USDA Reports On Climate Change

Feb 11, 2013
Kealey Bultena file photo

The United States Department of Agriculture has published two comprehensive reports on what the changing climate means for the future of the nation’s forests and agriculture.

The reports are peer reviewed and include input from over 40 scientists each. 

They show climate change will pose increasing challenges to farmers, ranchers, and foresters in the coming years.