Spreading knowledge SDSU Extension is a source of unbiased and vetted information for those in and out of agriculture
Published on Jan. 18, 2020
Brookings, S.D. – South Dakota State University (SDSU) Agriculture Extension is committed to being South Dakota’s source of unbiased and vetted information regarding agriculture to producers and consumers alike.
According to SDSU, Extension empowers citizens to be more competitive in a growing global economy through education and technical training or assistance.
“Our purpose is to foster a learning community environment empowering citizens to advocate for sustainable change that will strengthen agriculture, natural resources, youth, families and the communities of South Dakota,” says SDSU. “In pursuit of this purpose, several core values support the mission of SDSU Extension and provide the foundation for the organization.”
These values include a defined public value, a learning community focus, prioritized effort, access for all citizens, an inclusive, collaborative and sustainable setting and a culture that embraces change.
“We have 21 field specialists within Extension assigned to different regional centers, and each center has a specialist dedicated to livestock production, crop production and natural resources,” says SDSU Extension Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alvaro Garcia.
Alvaro explains each specialist has assigned tasks, taking into consideration their expertise and what they were hired to do.
“For example, with crops such as corn and soybeans, which are grown abundantly in South Dakota, we have specialists looking at different aspects of corn genetics and how they perform in the state,” says Alvaro. “We also have specialists who work with non-traditional crops in the western part of the state such as sorghum and peas.”
“Our livestock group is staffed with diverse individuals who specialize in sheep, beef and dairy cattle,” says Alvaro.
“Our overarching goal is to increase the sustainability of our producers, both environmentally and economically,” says Alvaro. “We want to see operations be able to continue throughout multiple generations.”
He explains many medium-sized operations are going under because in order to stay in business, they need to expand and may not have the resources to do so.
“This is where Extension can make a huge difference,” says Alvaro. “Oftentimes larger operations can hire consultants to help, but we can help small and mid-size operations.”
He continues, “We can be present and help them through the ever-changing environment of agriculture.”
Alvaro says Extension also understands there is a growing disconnect between agriculture and the general public.
“Every time we have an opportunity to go into schools and areas not as close to farm areas and present, we take the chance to educate,” says Alvaro.
“We do think there is a bright future for agriculture and the importance of being mindful of the current climate of agriculture and how hard it can be for new start ups,” says Alvaro.
Alvaro noted livestock specialists across the state host programs to help educate producers on various technology and management methods.
“The most impactful of our livestock programs has probably been our artificial insemination (AI) workshops,” says Alvaro. “We have historically offered this program to adults, but have recently teamed up with our 4-H branch to offer this program to youth as well.”
He continues, “By teaching producers advanced methods of breeding, we are working to improve the genetics of the South Dakota beef herd as a whole.”
Alvaro notes Extension has also sponsored feedlot management seminars to help producers better understand how to manage cattle in a feedlot setting.
“We have had a very challenging couple of years in the region, and we have made a concentrated effort to develop programs tackling the effects of farm stress,” Alvaro explains. “We want our producers to be able to better cope with a less than ideal economic environment for agriculture.”
He continues, “Mental health is so important because there have been a lot of struggles across the region in connection with commodity prices and adverse weather such as torrential flooding and blizzards.”
“Farm stress is extremely stigmatized, and it’s not easy for people to talk about,” says Alvaro. “We need to develop an approach that is mindful of these issues.”
Please visit sdstate.edu for more information.
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.