Agriculture and The CSDED Region
As a whole, the area is extremely Ag oriented. The number of farms in the Region has changed significantly from 1997 to 2002. Coinciding with the reduction in number is the increasing size of farming/ranching operations. The only county where this trend reversed is Jackson County. Such a trend indicates a move toward fewer, yet larger operations, requiring the need for more land to obtain a sustainable income. Yet, the CSDED region saw 6.4% of the land taken out of age production from 1997 to 2007 for other types of development.
Wide variations in commodity prices, combined with weather disaster dramatically affect farm and ranch incomes. It should also be noted that government transfer payments saw a large increase in 2005. In addition, all seven counties were included in the drought disaster declaration of 2006. Haakon, Jones, and Jackson Counties continue to be extremely dry in 2007, as do parts of Stanley and Hughes. The weather caused losses in agricultural income and “stressed” the economies of rural communities. In 2007, a portion of Jackson was included as a primary county in presidential disaster declaration 1702-DR due to severe storms. Portions of Haakon, Hyde, and Jones were then considered secondary counties related to that disaster.
As the need to make agriculture a sustainable enterprise grows, the call for value-added agricultural processing increases. Communities in the area are looking to develop both in value-added Ag processing i.e. ethanol production. Although value-added agricultural processing is often considered by local leaders to be a major development opportunity, it has certain drawbacks. Value-added projects:
• Normally require a large development of capital outlay.
• Usually will not be successful without definite markets and product contracts.
• May not employ a large number of people after the initial construction.
• Often require significant infrastructure accommodations.
The term “value-added” means different things to different development interests. To some officials, any agricultural production activity, including large-scale animal confinement operations is value-added, if the activity will promote market stability and job opportunities. Others may view value-added as finished product processing, such as ethanol production and livestock packing plants. Another definition is creating work opportunities off the farm that permit farm operators to subsidize their agricultural income. Regardless of the definition, value-added agriculture is an attempt to build upon the region’s wealth of natural and commodity resources. A significant barrier to continuing value-added activities in the Region is public perception. Large scale feedlots to large scale fish farms can provide value-added opportunities, yet often end in heated —“not in my back yard” discussions. It is vital for the Region and the public as a whole to become better educated about value-added agriculture in order to make informed decisions, so another major sector of the economy is not infringed upon i.e. — tourism.
Farm Number & Size
|Area||1997 Farm #'s||2002 Farm #'s||% Change||1997 Farm Size||2002 Farm Size||% Change|