Frequently Asked Questions | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click a link below for answers to South Dakota Department of Agriculture frequently asked questions. As always, you may contact us via phone or email at any time.

Forestry and Conservation

Q. Where can I get trees for a shelterbelt? 

A. Trees for windbreak plantings can be ordered by private individuals through their local conservation districts. Prior to ordering, a tree planting plan should be developed that considers species diversity and design elements that achieve the windbreak objectives of the landowner. Windbreak planning needs to be done and the tree plans submitted to the conservation districts. This needs to occur prior to November of the year prior to planting for tree ordering purposes. In so doing, conservation districts can guarantee tree orders from area tree nurseries for shipment the following spring. Tree planting assistance is provided free of charge by service foresters from the Resource Conservation & Forestry Division of the SD Department of Agriculture.

Q. How do I care for a Real Christmas Tree?

A. Caring for your Real Christmas Tree

Q. How do I get a Christmas tree permit?

A. All requests for a Christmas tree permit must be requested from the U.S. Forest Service district offices. Call the district office closest to your area.
Custer Office - (605) 673-4853
Deadwood Office - (605) 578-2744
Harney Office - (605) 574-2534
Pactola (Rapid City) Office - (605) 343-1567
Spearfish Office - (605) 642-4622

Q. How do I contact my local conservation district?

A. The entire state of South Dakota is included in a conservation district. Most conservation districts follow county lines, with only a few exceptions. Click here to visit the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts site where you will find a map of South Dakota with each of the conservation districts outlined. Simply click inside the appropriate district to be taken to that district's website with contact information including mailing address, office phone number and a list of the district supervisors and employees.


Q. Where can I find information on grants that are available?

A. The Department has several grants that are available.

In addition, we keep a listing of grants from other agencies. You can find that information on our grants page


Q. What is Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)?

A. FMD is a highly contagious and economically devastating disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed (split-toed) ruminants. Many affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated. FMD causes severe losses in the production of meat and milk. Because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic as well as physical consequences, FMD is one of the most dreaded animal diseases for livestock owners.

Q. Can people get FMD from animals?

A. The disease does not affect human safety. People, however, can spread the virus to animals. FMD can remain in human nasal passages for as long as 28 hours and can be carried on soiled footwear, clothing and other items for several days.

Q: What precautions are being taken to protect South Dakota livestock?

A. People are advised not to travel to countries known to have FMD. If you must visit these countries, you are advised not to visit farms, sale barns, stockyards, animal laboratories, packinghouses, zoos, fairs or other animal facilities for five days before returning to the United States. Prior to returning to the United States, you will need to shower, launder or dry clean all clothing, and remove all dirt or organic material from shoes, luggage and other personal items.

Individuals coming to South Dakota from countries known to have FMD must avoid contact with cattle, sheep, goats, swine, buffalo, elk, deer and other cloven hoofed animals for at least five days. In the event that contact with any of these animals occurs prior to the five-day interval, the premises will be quarantined for a period of two weeks. As part of the quarantine requirements, animals will be prohibited from leaving the site and all vehicles and persons must be disinfected and receive a permit from the State Veterinarian before leaving the location. Every precaution will be taken to ensure against the spread of FMD to protect South Dakota's livestock industry.

The Animal Industry Board has coordinated with other agencies and the livestock industry and has implemented a Contingency Plan for FMD. This plan addresses preventative and preparatory measures to mitigate the occurrence of FMD and to provide response and recovery measures in the event of an FMD occurrence.

Q: What import restrictions are being taken to protect the United States?

A. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented an interim rule on February 21, 2001 prohibiting or restricting the importation into the United States of live swine and ruminants and any fresh swine or ruminant meat (chilled or frozen) or products from Great Britain, Northern Ireland or Argentina. The interim rule is effective retroactively. Products dated after January 14 (February 19, 2001 in Argentina) are not permitted entry into the United States.

Q: What is being done to prevent travelers from bringing FMD into the United States? 

A. Ports of entry have been notified to enhance surveillance of travelers coming from Europe, particularly the United Kingdom (UK) because that area is now considered to be at high risk for FMD. All international travelers must state on their Customs declaration form whether or not they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock and if they are bringing any meat or dairy products from their travels back with them. APHIS officials will inspect the baggage of all travelers who indicate they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock. Any soiled footwear must be disinfected with detergent and bleach. Any ruminant or swine products (cattle, sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed animals), with the exception of hard cheeses and canned products with a shelf life, from FMD-infected countries will be confiscated.

Q: Are there any disinfectants effective for FMD?
A. The following disinfectants have been demonstrated to be effective against FMD:

  • Lye (sodium hydroxide) - 2 percent solution. Mix a 13-ounce can of lye in five gallons of water.
  • Soda ash (sodium carbonate) - 4 percent solution. Mix one pound soda ash in three gallons of water.
  • Citric acid - 0.2 percent solution.
  • Vinegar (acetic acid) - 2 percent solution. Mix one gallon of vinegar (4 percent) in a gallon of water.
  • Virkon S (Antec International) at a 1:200 dilution.
  • Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Mix three parts bleach to two parts water.

Q. What do South Dakota livestock producers need to do? 
A. Livestock producers need to watch their livestock for blisters around the mouth or muzzle, excessive drooling, lameness and other signs of FMD in their herd. Swine and cattle typically show signs of the disease within two to seven days of exposure. Sheep and goats may display minimal clinical signs of the disease after an incubation period of up to fourteen days. Immediately report any unusual or suspicious signs of disease to your local veterinarian, the South Dakota State Veterinarian's Office, 605.773.3321, or USDA/Veterinary Services at 605.224.6186. USDA also has a toll-free FMD telephone center at 800.601.9327.


Q: What can I do with waste (unusable) pesticides? 

A: Waste (unusable) pesticides can be pesticides without labels, damaged pesticides (winter damaged, flood damaged, etc.), canceled or suspended pesticides, or a pesticide in a container that is in poor condition. Sign these products up for our free waste (unusable) pesticide disposal program. The product(s) must be preregistered with the department prior to the fall collection to be considered for the program. Find out what happens to waste (unusable) pesticides and how to reduce pesticide waste.

Q: What do I need to know about bulk pesticide repackaging?

A: Review the questions and answers about bulk pesticide repackaging. Also review the bulk pesticide repacking management checklist and the bulk pesticide repackaging paperwork checklist for a quick overview.

Wildland Fire

Q. What is the Wildland Urban Interface? 

A. There are several definitions as well as names for the interface area. Generally speaking it's the line, area or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels (National Wildfire Coordinating Group definition).

Q. Where can I learn more about Wildland Urban Interface and how I can safeguard my home? 

A. Learn about Wildland Urban Interface and the Wildland Fire Suppression Divisions here.

Q. When are burn permits available?

A. Permits become available starting October 1st, if weather conditions allow and are not issued after April 1st.

Q. What are the required weather conditions for burn permits to be issued? 

A. 2 - 4 inches of lasting snow is needed before permits will be issued.

Q. Where can a burn permit be acquired? 

A. Permits can be acquired online here or by calling 800.275.4955.

Q. Where can a burn barrel and outdoor fire place permit be acquired? 

A. Burn barrel and outdoor fireplace permits can be acquired through the Fire Management Officer for the county the burn barrel and / or outdoor fire place will be used in.

  • Lawrence County: Tim Eggers – 605.584.2300 
  • Meade & Pennington County: Ray Bubb – 605.394.2582 
  • Custer & Fall River County: Les Madsen – 605.745.5820

Q. What are the requirements for an outdoor fireplace? 
A. Here is a description of outdoor fireplace regulations and a diagram.

Q. What are the requirements for a burn barrel?
A. Here is a description of burn barrel regulations and a diagram.

Q. What are the driving directions to the Wildland Fire Suppression Divisions Coordinators office? 
A. Take Hwy 44 to the exit for Rapid City Regional Airport, go towards the Airport and continue through the stop light to the top of the hill. The office is located in the old terminal building, 4250 Fire Station Road. Click here for a map.