Agriculture Industry | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

South Dakota Agriculture - Facts & Impact

Corn FieldAgriculture is the life-blood of South Dakota. It is our state’s #1 industry, and for the farmers who work the land, agriculture is more than a job – it is a career, a passion and a way of life.

South Dakota always has been and will continue to be an agricultural state. In the 19th century, homesteaders used a mule and a moldboard plow to break the thick prairie sod. Two hundred years later, their descendants work the same land with no-till drills and combines equipped with Global Positioning Systems.

Although the tools have changes, agriculture remains the common thread linking the citizens, businesses and communities of our state.

Family Farms

  • 98% of farms in South Dakota are family owned and operated – in fact, over 2,500 South Dakota farms have been in the same family for more than 100 years.
  • The average size of a farm in South Dakota in 2016 was 1,397 acres.
  • The average age of a South Dakota farmer is 57 years.
  • There are 46,000 producers in South Dakota on 31,000 farms or ranches.
  • Each year, one South Dakota producer raises enough food to feed 155 people in the U.S. and abroad.

Economic Impact

  • South Dakota’s agriculture industry has a $25.6 billion economic impact each year. With more than 19 million  acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pastureland, our farmers and ranchers are one of our economy’s key drivers.
  • In addition to generating 20% of our state’s economic activity, production agriculture and its value added industries employ over 115,000 South Dakotans.
  • This economic impact is a direct result of our production capacity and investment in value-added industries. Businesses ranging from ethanol plants and livestock feeding operations to farmers markets and wineries are capitalizing on agriculture’s competitive and comparative advantages for economic development in South Dakota.

National Crop and Livestock Production Rankings (2015)

Economic Impact Study

Annual Acres Harvested 2015

  • 5.03 million acres of corn
  • 5.12 million acres of soybeans
  • 3.05 million acres of hay
  • 2.24 million acres of wheat
  • 1.9 million acres of alfalfa
  • 662,000 acres of sunflowers
  • 220,000 acres of sorghum
  • 145,000 acres of oats
  • 19,000 acres of barley
  • 18,000 acres of flaxseed

2012 U.S. Census of Ag Data for SD