Farming, ranching, and the agriculture related occupations that have sprung forth, have been the backbone for our state's development, and the heart and soul of South Dakota's communities dating back to our territory days. Today is no exception. Agriculture is the #1 industry in South Dakota with a $21.3 Billion dollar annual impact on our great state and finances the employment of 40% of all South Dakotans.
My grandparents on both sides were farmers, most of my uncles, and my parents had a small farm. I learned the love for the land while working on my parent's small farm and while working with my grandpa and uncles. My first love was farming, I was involved with the Future Farmers of America and took all the agriculture classes, welding, and auto mechanics classes available through Mitchell High Schools classes at the then Mitchell Vocational Technical School with the intent of farming after high school. Dad understood my love; however, he pointed out the sad facts that he did not have the extensive farming infrastructure needed to help me make a career of farming. Buying my small 105 year old farm in 2001 helped me deal with my father's early passing, fulfilled a promise I made to my Grandpa Gerlach that I would someday own a small farm of my own, and helped fulfill a childhood dream.
Improving, developing, and protecting South Dakota's agriculture businesses are imperative to the future of our great state. We must elect representatives to Pierre who understand how important agriculture is to our great state and our great heritage. I understand how important agriculture is to our state and I cherish that great heritage that I proudly share with so many great South Dakotans.