South Dakota Group Adding Value to Agriculture For 20 Years This Month

(WNAX) — The South Dakota Value Added Ag Development Center is celebrating it’s 20th year of operation this month. Executive Director Cheri Rath says two decades after they started, 80 percent of the projects they’ve helped bring on line are still operational…

“We’re started back in ‘99 when value-added was starting to happen in the state, but I needed a little furring along and since that time we’ve worked with just about 250 clients and brought about 135 of those companies online with their start-up or expansion so it’s been a great ride.”
She says they’ve generated $63.1 million in funds for clients, created around 3,000 jobs and have an estimated $2.2 billion capital investment and annual revenue impact. Rath says they have also been able to diversify from traditional ag projects…

“We do have value-added of our traditional commodities with our soybeans and our wheat and our cattle and our hogs but we are diversifying out into commodity prices are down; it gives our farmers another opportunity to come in and diversify their operations and then move into the value-added side to so, I’ll see if it does provide a good opportunity.”
Rath says they’ve had a record amount of interest generated the first quarter of this year…

“We’ve had a record; 22 inquiries our first quarter this year, so we are working on things like on when working with three meat lockers which is something that the state because of our existing ones are full and so some of the people are having to wait up to a year is when I’m hearing to get their animals process. Got mushrooms, we’ve got creamery, we’ve got flour mills, we’ve got soybean processing.”
The Value-Added Ag Development Center has clients in 57 of the state’s 66 counties.