Happy Thanksgiving, By the Numbers

Posted: 11/20/2012

Posted by:  Steve Dick

As Thanksgiving approaches, we each take time to count our blessings.   For many of South Dakota’s farm and ranch families, 2012 was a difficult year.  Drought and hot weather damaged crops and led to higher prices for feed for livestock.  Despite these challenges, we remain thankful for a strong and vibrant agriculture community that allows all of us to enjoy a safe, nutritious and affordable food supply at Thanksgiving and every day of the year. 

Inspired by the daily “thankful” lists we’ve see on social media this month, we’ve started our own lists of reasons to be thankful for South Dakota farm families.  We’ve covered the first 20 days of November … please send in your suggestions for the remaining days of the month.

1 – The #1 priority of the state’s 31,500 farm and ranch families is to care for their animals, crops and land. 

2 – On average, it takes 48 hours (2 days or less) from when milk is collected from a cow to be pasteurized, homogenized, packaged and distributed to retail stores and schools.  Source.

3 – There are 3.7 million beef cattle in South Dakota.  Source.

4 – About 4 million acres of soybeans are harvested in South Dakota each year.  Source.

5 – Five million turkeys are produced in South Dakota each year.  Source.

6 – South Dakota ranks #6 in the nation in sheep and lamb production.  Source.

7 – South Dakota livestock producers feed and care for their animals 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, including holiday and weekends. 

8 – South Dakota ranks 8th in the nation in beef production.  Source.

9 – The world’s population will grow to more than 9 billion in 2050, requiring farmers to continue increasing production in a sustainable manner on fewer acres. South Dakota farm families are up for the challenge!   Source.

10 – Our food supply is safer than ever.  Over the last 10 years, foodborne illnesses are down 20%, even though the U.S. population increased by more than 10 percent.  Source.

11 – South Dakota ranks 11th in the nation in hog production.  Source.

12 – There are 1.2 million hogs and pigs in South Dakota.  Source

13 – One dairy cow generates $13,594 of economic impact to the community each year.  Source.

14 – The average size of a South Dakota farm is about 1,400 acres.  About 98 percent of the state’s farms and ranches are family owned.  Source.

15 – There are 15,000 beef producing farms and ranches in South Dakota.  Source.

16 – Farmers and ranchers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.  Source.

17 – The economic impact of hog processing in the state is $1.7 billion each year.  Source.

18 – South Dakota has more than 92,000 dairy cows that produce more than 1.8 billion pounds of milk per year.  Source.

19 – In 1940, the average farmer fed 19 people.  Thanks to today’s agriculture, the average farmers is able to producer more on fewer acres of land, and is able to feed 155 people.  Source.

20 – Agriculture and related industries have a total economic impact of more than $20 billion in the state each year, generating about 20 percent of the state’s economic activity.  Source.


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