Fulfilling our purpose in South Dakota: Producing food for our families, nation, and world.
*The following is a letter written by Dr. David Zeman, in support of the dairy permit application heard in Brookings on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
Dear Brookings County Zoning and Planning Board Members and County Commissioners:
I am a retired SDSU Professor, writing in support of animal agriculture expansion in our state and county. I am writing in support of the proposed dairy farm in Brookings County, to be built and managed by Riverview Farms, LLP. I had the good fortune to take the bus tour to Morris MN two weeks ago and see nearly an identical dairy operation. I wish all of you could have seen it...what an impressive operation! From the outside, it was beautiful neat and tidy. While standing by the barns and the covered lagoons, there was absolutely no odors. Inside it was neat and tidy, filled with content healthy cattle, and no flies due to their engineered cross ventilation system. This farm would be preferred neighbors to me compared to many untidy disorganized farm operations or acreages you would see as you drive through the countryside. Furthermore, this farm business is an outstanding family corporation, managed with excellence, and bringing their experiences from 11 similar dairy farms that are scattered across this region... they know their business and are highly professional! Please read below why I believe quality animal ag operations like this one and others, need to be permitted to do business in our state to carry on their noble mission of feeding the nation and the world.
Every person, every organization and every nation seems to thrive best when they are fulfilling their mission in life, their purpose for existing, stepping up and doing their part for the common good. There is something about that fact that harmonizes with our core values as humans. We desire to be useful. Different parts of our great country become appreciated for some specific contributions that they excel at: New York is known for fine arts and financial institutions, Florida is known for orange juice and a warm winter destination, California is known for technology and wine production, Wyoming for scenic wild places, and North Dakota and Texas are known for oil and gas production. The states in these examples have recognized their strengths and the natural resources that have been provided to them and have created economic opportunity for their citizens while fulfilling a vital purpose for the rest of the country and even the world.
So one might ask, what is our purpose in South Dakota? What do we contribute to the nation and world? There will be several answers to that I am sure, but one that must be high on such a list is the same thing that brought our pioneer forefathers to the northern Great Plains, the quest to fulfill a noble purpose, to produce food for our families, our nation, and even the world. We have been blessed with a tremendous natural resource in this region: fertile land to grow crops, moisture, sun, and room to raise food producing animals. The task of feeding the nation and world is no small chore. Both are growing by millions and billions – and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, by 2050 we will need 70% more total food to feed the estimated 9 billion hungry people at that time. Worldwide food animal protein demand is projected to grow by 60%; some suggest demand may double in more affluent societies.
Food production has been our proud heritage in South Dakota since we became a part of this great nation. I am convinced that modern sustainable food production is also our future destiny, one we can be proud to be recognized for. This wisely uses our natural and human resources, and provides us with a way to make a living while fulfilling a most noble purpose – feeding the world!
Modern agricultural practices have and will continue to evolve and improve over time. Large amounts of food and fiber can now be produced in an efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. These modern farms are truly modern production marvels. As a zoning and planning board member you are required to make some heavy decisions. Thank you for serving the citizens of this county. I trust you will consider the larger picture, the prosperity of the county and the nutritional needs of the nation and world as you ponder your decisions, and not just the wishes of a few.
David H. Zeman, DVM, PhD, DACVP Professor Emeritus, SDSU