The Meade County Director of Equalization recently proposed a reduction in agricultural land values due to drought conditions, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. A recent report from the United States Drought Monitor indicated that over half of Meade County is in a severe drought category while the other half is listed under moderate drought. Last summer, much of Meade County experienced extreme drought—the monitor’s second highest rating.
The proposal breaks down the reduction in several ways. A 3.5% reduction will be made due to the land’s size and location, while another 10% will be included based on the drought declaration in 2016. The final 16% reduction is made according to the 2017 drought declaration.
The proposal would would have to be carried out by the Meade County Commission and would involve a dispute with the state’s equalization director. If the Meade County Commission approved the reduction in ag land values, state officials could reject it. Such a change would have an impact on the county’s finances, especially its schools.
To read more news from Meade County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
On February 20th, 1892, the Western South Dakota Stock Growers Association held its first meeting in Rapid City at the Harney Hotel. Thirteen men attended the gathering, including the association’s first president and mayor of Rapid City, James M. Woods. The organization would go on to become the present-day South Dakota Stockgrower’s Association.
James M. Woods served as Rapid City’s seventh mayor and was in office from 1890-1894. Woods moved to the Rapid City area in 1883 and purchased tracts of land along Elk Creek. Shortly after moving into the region, he formed the Woods, White and Woods Cattle Company with his brother, W.S. Woods, who was the president of the National Bank of Commerce in Kansas City, Missouri. The company came to be valued at one million dollars and over 20,000 head of cattle by 1885.
Woods also had a passion for horses, and was instrumental in organizing the first horse roundup in 1887 at Brennan Station. By 1891, Woods had acquired a ranch in Rapid Valley along Rapid Creek. On April 26th of that year, the Black Hills Horse Breeders Association was organized and Woods was elected as its president.
Although Woods was instrumental in the formation of the Western South Dakota Stock Growers Association, he served as its president for just 70 days—from its inaugural meeting on February 20th 1892 to April 21, 1892.
A list of past presidents for the South Dakota Stockgrower’s Association can be found on the association’s website. Learn more about James M. Woods and other past mayors of Rapid City on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s website.
Pennington County has called for a moratorium on building permits in a new subdivision located outside Box Elder. Valley Heights, the subdivision affected, has 150 single family homes, and 68 empty lots currently.
Providing water to the subdivision has proven difficult, as it is located outside of Box Elder city limits. The Box Elder water system is facing concerns about water transportation through existing mains, the failure of a city well, and the structural integrity of a water tower that supplies Valley Heights. The City of Box Elder will continue to serve Valley Heights residents so long as the current water tower in place--which is not owned by Box Elder--continues to function properly.
Discussion about how to address these problems will be ongoing, including the possibility of creating a sanitary district or a non-profit organization for Valley Heights to take its water supply matters into their own hands.
A storm that swept through Newell last week clocked in 93 mile per hour winds and hail larger than two inches in diameter, reports KOTA News. Area farmer Troy Hewson reported a complete loss of his wheat crop. While he hopes to use the wheat as a nurse crop with alfalfa and orchardgrass, he also has crop insurance to recoup his losses.
Few choices exist when it comes to crop insurance. A fedderal multi-peril insurance policy covers a wide variety of crops in several weather-related loss events. Hail insurance is another option, although the premiums tend to cost more than multi-peril insurance.
To read more about agriculture and natural resources, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Widespread drought conditions in South Dakota are forcing the state’s ranchers to either purchase additional hay or bring their cattle to auction sooner, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. The price of hay has also increased as the drought progresses with alfalfa hay selling for $150-160 per ton.
While some ranchers are trying to hold onto younger cows and calves as long as possible, some cow-calf pairs are being sold at auction already, an unusual occurrence in a non-drought year.
The United States Department of Agriculture opened emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program or CRP lands in the state earlier this year. The authorization will remain in place through September unless conditions improve. Governor Daugaard has also declared a drought emergency and instructed the Drought Task Force to monitor conditions statewide.
To read more about agriculture and natural resources in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The United States Department of Agriculture has expanded its efforts to combat drought in South Dakota, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The federal agency will provide additional assistance to livestock producers by expanding emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. The expanded assistance will apply to any county that has borders within 150 miles of severe drought conditions.
The Conservation Reserve Program improves the health and quality of farmlands by sowing plant species that improve the environmental health of the soil. CRP pays farmers an annual rent in exchange for the loss of potential farm revenue. CRP lands are generally enrolled for 10-15 years. CRP is the largest private-lands conservation effort in the U.S.
To read more about the environment and conservation in the region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
A year after a fire which scorched nearly 3,000 acres atop Crow Peak in Spearfish, regrowth has become apparent, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The cause of the June 24, 2016 fire was determined to be lightning, and was not fully contained until July 4.
Directly following the fire, most of the vegetation in the area was gone in the burned area. In spite of the area’s current drought conditions, there is a significant amount of re-vegetation in the burn area. According to Black Hills National Forest fire management officer Christopher Zoller, many of the pine trees were pruned from the area which they were burned and are still alive and showing signs of regrowth.
The burn area also encouraged more wildlife, such as elk, to move in. However, noxious weeds have also found an opportunity for growth in the area. Matt Scott, a range management specialist for the Black Hills National Forest indicated that weed control would be conducted in over 200 acres of the burn area.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service recently awarded a Farm to School Grant to the South Dakota Department of Education, reports KOTA News. The $24,000 award will help provide school cafeterias with locally-sourced foods from area farmers and ranchers. South Dakota was one of 65 projects awarded in the United States this year.
The state will partner with South Dakota State University’s Extension program and Dakota Rural Action to provide trainings on farm to school meal procurement. The 2015 USDA Farm to School Census showed that students at participating schools were more likely to try new foods, while participation rates increased and food waste decreased.
To learn more about education and training in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
After its move in mid-May, the Black Hills Farmers Market is thriving at its new location in east Rapid City, reports KOTA News. The new location at 145 East Omaha Street has more vendor space available than the previous location at Founders Park. Additionally, the new location has easier access.
Approximately 55 vendors are expected to participate in the market throughout the summer. Vendors include community booths, farmers, artisans and food trucks from a 200 mile radius.
A group in Lead is proposing a city ordinance that would allow for the legal ownership of chickens, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The proposed ordinance will be presented to the Lead City Commission, with an anticipated agenda date of May 1.
Currently, the proposal would require a $100 registration fee for Lead residents who want to keep chickens on their property. The proposed ordinance would also ban roosters and cap the total number of hens to six. Chickens would not be allowed inside homes, and would be required to be house within well-ventilated and secured coops with a chicken run.
Present law allows Lead residents on large lots to have chicken coops, so long as they are 100 feet away from their living quarters. The group proposing the chicken ordinance noted that other cities, including Sioux Falls, SD; Portland, OR; Fort Collins, CO; Ann Arbor, MI and others allow chickens within city limits and have no documented problems.
The Lawrence County Commission is seeking assistance from the federal government in controlling noxious weeds and invasive species, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The commission is consulting the United States Forest Service about the issue.
However, there is not a line item for invasive species in the USFS budget, although the commission considers the issue to be very important in management of federal lands. In a letter to the USFS, the commission emphasized the importance of prioritizing invasive species in regard to the federal budget. The letter also notes that herbicide funding is often temporary and does not address the heart of the issue.
The South Dakota Senate recently voted down Senate Bill 135, which would have reinstated country of original labeling (COOL) within South Dakota borders, reports KOTA News. The bill was defeated 21-13.
Once federal law, COOL was repealed by the U.S. Congress in 2015. COOL required grocery stores and supermarkets to label various types of meats, fish, fruits and vegetables with information regarding their source of origination.
SB 135 would not have been as far-reaching as the federal COOL regulations. The bill would have required country of origin labelling on beef products sold in South Dakota. Proponents of COOL assert that other products, such as clothing, include information concerning where the product was made. Opponents believes that COOL imposes unnecessary regulations which negatively impact small businesses.
After hearing reports of wildlife consuming feed intended for livestock, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks is offering assistance in the form of stock feed, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Wildlife such as deer and elk often consume three percent of their body weight daily, which can result in large losses of livestock feed.
The department is also offering assistance in keeping animals away from livestock feedlots, and in some cases kill permits. Such efforts assist by reducing the total population of the herd, but also aid in dispersing the animals.
To read more recent news about wildlife in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Two new lakes and 9,777 feet of new passages were recently discovered by volunteers at Jewel Cave National Monument, reports KOTA News. Water comprises only one percent of the known portions of the cave.
The recent discoveries were made on an annual four-day volunteer exploration. Volunteers also explored to new depths in the cave, spelunking to the cave’s newest low spot at 814.3 feet below the highest point of the cave.
To learn more about Jewel Cave, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archives.
South Dakota maintained its no.1 spot in the nation’s bison industry in 2016, reports KOTA News. South Dakota produced over 10,000 head more than any other state in the nation.
The bison industry is much smaller than similar industries, such as cattle. The beef industry slaughters approximately 60,000 head per day, while the bison industry processes nearly that many on an annual basis.
To read about bison in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Although cattle prices have continually declined over the past year, prices from October indicated the industry is beginning to recover, reports South Dakota Public Broadcasting. However, the year-long decline in cattle prices resulted in a budget shortfall, according to Governor Dennis Daugaard.
South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director Silvia Christen attributed the declining prices to fewer cattle being traded publicly in the cash market as well as the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Without COOL, consumers are not able to choose between foreign and domestic beef.
The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association attributes the decline to a constantly changing market. The association’s president Larry Stomprud noted that government interference in the market should be kept at a minimum, but also believed COOL may help ranchers make ends meet.
To learn more about livestock in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Permits for the winter burning season are now available for the Black Hills Forest Fire District, according to a news release by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. The permits may be used only for burning slash piles in areas where at least two inches of snow surrounds the pile and winds are less than 15 miles per hour.
Winter burning permits help keep fire managers informed of managerial burns in order to reduce the number of false alarm calls to fires. The Department of Agriculture cautions burners to be aware of weather conditions when burning.
To read more about fires in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
While 41 states experienced an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2016, South Dakota’s economy lagged, according to a recent release from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. South Dakota’s GDP declined by 1.0 percent in the second quarter, placing the state at No. 46 in the nation for economic growth.
Regionally, South Dakota outperformed North Dakota and Wyoming, which experienced declines of 5.6 and 5.3 percent, respectively. Nebraska led the region in growth at 4.3 percent, while Minnesota experienced no growth and Iowa increased modestly at 1.3 percent.
South Dakota agriculture played a key role in the state’s economic slowdown, dropping by 2.2 percent while mining fell by 0.4 percent. Real estate, durable goods and health care industries each edged up by 0.4 percent. South Dakota’s transportation industry increased marginally at 0.1 percent in the second quarter, but it was well below the national growth rate of 14.0 percent for this sector.
South Dakota winter wheat farmers set a new record for production this year, reports the Rapid City Journal. In 2015, an average of 58 bushels were harvested per acre, up from 55 bushels per acre in both 2008 and 2014. The harvest was especially remarkable given that producers planted 17 percent less wheat yet produced nearly 50 percent more wheat than in 2014.
While production is at an all-time high, wheat prices are slightly less than $2 per bushel. Additionally, South Dakota’s wheat stocks stand at nearly 130 million bushels. With low prices and so much wheat on hand, farmers may turn to more profitable crops, such as soybeans, in the upcoming year.
Two hundred forty-four head of bison will be up for auction at the 2016 Custer State Park Fall Classic Bison Auction on November 19, states a news release from the State of South Dakota. The auction will take place at the new Custer State Park Visitor Center, located 15 miles east of the City of Custer on Highway 16A.
Custer State Park has held bison auctions for the past 51 years. This year, the auction will include video bids. Buffalo Herd Manager Chad Kramer hopes that the video auction will help the park reach a wider customer base.
To read more about Custer State Park, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.