On My Farm
We are South Dakota soybean farmers, and we are proud to raise the crops that feed your families and ours. We work hard to grow nutritious crops and raise healthy livestock, and we want to share our stories with you. Here you can explore what life is like for a South Dakota farmer.
Farming: Then vs. Now
Many of us have grandparents or great-grandparents who farmed for a living. Not long ago, farmers made up a much more significant percentage of the U.S. population. They grew crops and raised livestock in order to feed their families. Most farms were small because farmers had limited resources and did their work by hand.
Today, farmers make up less than 2 percent of the population. One farmer today feeds 155 people. In 1940, one farmer grew enough food to feed only 19 people.
Equipment, technology and research have allowed today’s farmers to be more productive. With efficient machinery and precision agriculture tools, farmers can raise more food while using fewer resources.
Farmers are continually reducing their impact on the environment. Soil erosion, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production have all decreased in the last 30 years.
Technological and cultural practices have improved to streamline production processes while using fewer resources than ever, which means you can rest assured farmers are working every day to improve their land and the environment. We are proud to say that 98 percent of South Dakota farms are still family farms.
Raising Healthy Animals
South Dakota livestock farmers take pride in raising healthy animals to bring nutritious meat, milk and eggs to your family’s table. Here are some of the ways livestock farmers are raising healthy animals:
Shelter – Most of the pigs, cows and poultry raised in South Dakota and the U.S. are raised indoors, enjoying comfortable, well-ventilated, climate-controlled barns where they are kept clean and safe from predators, flies and the elements.
Nutrition – Most livestock receive a diet prescribed by a professional animal nutritionist. Soybean meal is an important part of that diet, providing animals with their main source of protein.
Health – Sometimes animals get sick and need antibiotics, just like people. Farmers work closely with their veterinarian to determine the best possible care for their animals. If an animal gets sick and requires antibiotics, the meat, milk or eggs from that animal cannot enter the food supply until the medicine has fully passed through the animal’s system.
A Year in the Life of a Soybean Farmer
SPRING – Spring is the beginning of the growing season for farmers. In March and April, farmers prepare their fields for planting. Some farmers prepare the soil in a process called tilling, which reduces weeds, dries the soil and distributes nutrients. Some farmers also prepare for planting by applying fertilizer, which provides nutrients to the crops through the soil.
SUMMER – Throughout the summer months, farmers scout fields for insects, weeds and diseases, and apply crop protection products as needed. Farmers also tend to their equipment and facilities, and market their crops.
FALL – The fall months are filled with harvesting. Once harvest is complete, if there’s still time, some farmers will till their fields and add any necessary fertilizer to the soil.
WINTER –Farmers spend the cold months making equipment repairs, marketing their crops and preparing their finances. Farming is a constantly changing industry, so during the winter, farmers also research products and practices, and attend educational seminars to improve their operations.
You might be surprised to know that family farms account for 99 percent of farms in the United States and 90 percent of the production. Many farms in South Dakota are made up of multiple generations operating the farm together in order to pass the land down to the next generation. In 2014, more than one-third of principal farm operators were 65 or older. That means, many families are going through the process of gradually handing over control of the farm. Today’s farm is truly a multi-generational operation.
To find out more about what today’s family farm looks like, we asked some of our favorite South Dakota families to let us know about the important role family plays in their lives on the farm.
“I would say that my favorite thing about farming is being able to do it together as a family. I enjoy being able to see my husband at work, and I enjoy being able to bring our daughter to that environment and raise her just like my husband was raised.” – Morgan, farmer from Colman
“I live on the farm my great-great-grandfather homesteaded in 1874 after coming over from Sweden. In fact, I live in the very house that my great-grandfather built in 1911. That part of our history is very important to me.
The farm is a wonderful place to raise children. There’s something special about coming home, sitting on my porch and looking out at our crops. When I look out at the land that’s been in my family for generations, it means a lot to me. We farm because it’s in our blood, and it’s part of our family.” – Charlotte, farmer from Alcester