Todd B. Woods , Yankton County Commissioner
Spring has sprung and we are some seeing beautiful days. Let’s not get too excited and put away the snow shovels as we always seem to have an Easter Blizzard…hopefully not this year.
Recently we have seen sad news in the area with the pending closure of JCPenny’s and 3 grocery stores closing in the surrounding communities. There has been a ray of hope as we are hearing that the grocery stores are re-opening. You may ask, “What do these grocery store closures in neighboring counties have to do with Yankton County?” These neighboring communities are vital to a strong Yankton economy as many work and shop here. When these communities suffer so does Yankton.
When a community loses one of its pillars (a large employer, grocery store, or even worse…a school) it is difficult, but not impossible, to right the ship. Community leaders need to unify and find SOLUTIONS that allows for their community to continue being vibrant. I congratulate the local leaders that have stepped up to help those grocery stores re-open.
As leaders, we are being proactive to reduce the likelihood of this happening in Yankton. We need to build a community that entices business to our core sectors (manufacturing, medical, tourism, and agriculture). Focusing attention on only one area of the economy puts our community at risk of failure.
Yankton has lost many agriculture opportunities in the last 15 years and this is one reason we are reviewing our current Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Comprehensive Plan. P&Z has hosted multiple presentations over the last year discussing the pros and cons of modern livestock facilities. On March 27th the SD Department of Agriculture (SD DOA) and Friends of the Big Sioux River (FBSR) spoke to the P&Z Commission and the partnership they have forged. FBSR President Dana Louske spoke on the concerns of water quality. Mr. Louske stated modern CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) “will benefit natural resources with cleaner water, reduced odors, reduced flies, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics.”
At the same meeting, Paul Kostboth, SD DOA Director of Ag Development, shared the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) numbers for Yankton County. In 1960 Yankton County had 5,200 dairy cows and in 2014 only 200. In 1960 we had 51,300 hogs and in 2012 in only 10,700. Total Ag production for Yankton County’s in 2014 was $395 million while Minnehaha County total Ag production was $2.5 billion.
Consider the sales tax revenue that this one business pays and the significant boost to the City of Yankton’s budget and our businesses. Property taxes generated by a business like this would be a huge boost to Yankton County.
When businesses like these are successful other businesses are created by “the ripple effect.” Kaylor, SD (similar in size as Utica) recently opened up a feed mill to serve the local CAFOs in Hutchinson County. Our established Yankton County feed mills will benefit from CAFOs. Feed mills and CAFOs provide an additional option for our farmers to sell their crops. When you have more places to sell your crops, competition is created and farmers get a better price.
We recently celebrated Ag Week and I will leave you with this fact. A $13.74 ham that you buy at the grocery store, the farmer’s “cut” is $1.99. On a $7.00 six pack of beer, the farmer receives $0.064. Thank you to all the farmers for their hard work and the food you put on our tables.