Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today a strong push to further develop the dairy industry in South Dakota.
"We've got dairy processing facilities looking to expand in communities across the state, but they need more milk," the Governor said. "With the recent announcement that Bel Brands will build a large cheese-processing plant in Brookings, we're making a concerted effort to expand existing dairy operations and bring new ones to South Dakota."
The Agricultural Development Division within the South Dakota Department of Agriculture will spearhead the effort, with assistance from the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
South Dakota currently has about 90,000 dairy cows, which produced more than 1.8 billion pounds of milk last year. However, to meet the increasing demand for milk over the next several years, South Dakota farmers will need to increase their dairy cattle herds by several thousand head.
"We've identified a number of existing dairies with the capacity to expand, and we're committed to helping South Dakota producers who are planning to grow," said Agricultural Development Division Director Lucas Lentsch.
Several towns have already expressed interest in having a dairy sited nearby, Lentsch noted.
"Residents of these rural communities understand the value that livestock agriculture brings -- not just in increased local economic activity but statewide as value is added to the raw commodities that are produced," Lentsch said.
South Dakota is an ideal location for dairy operations, Gov. Daugaard said, adding that he's committed to growing the livestock sector.
"Our reasonable feed costs, favorable tax climate, strong demand for milk, and unwavering support for agriculture make South Dakota a perfect place to expand the dairy industry," the Governor said. "It's great to see this type of economic development in South Dakota."