Unlike bees, human populations in South Dakota aren't collapsing. Northern Plains News reports a turnaround in population trends in South Dakota, with a majority of South Dakota counties seeing growth between 2010 and 2012.

from John Cromartie, "Nonmetro Areas as a Whole Experience First Period of Population Loss," USDA Economic Research Service, 2014.05.06 http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2013-may/nonmetro-areas-as-a-whole-experience-first-period-of-population-loss.aspx

from John Cromartie, "Nonmetro Areas as a Whole Experience First Period of Population Loss," USDA Economic Research Service, 2014.05.06 http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2013-may/nonmetro-areas-as-a-whole-experience-first-period-of-population-loss.aspx

Note that West River is almost all blue, meaning growth, driven by higher birth rates among Indians, higher in-migration thanks to the Bakken boom up north, and higher rates of folks wanting to live near that hunky Larry Rhoden fellow. The tan decline areas are mostly among the non-metro James River Valley counties, which reflects the overall conclusion of this USDA report showing that, for the first time, the non-metro portion of the U.S. (72% of our land area) lost population.

NPN reports that South Dakota is bucking another national demographic trend: we've got more farms! Between 2007 and 2012, South Dakota sprouted 820 more farms, a 2.6% increase to 31,989. That's still 14% fewer farms than we had in 1982, but it's an increase that means more individuals in business for themselves growing food. And it beats the continuing national consolidation of farms: over the same five years that South Dakota added farms, the U.S. lost 100,000 farms, a 4.5% drop.

The growth in South Dakota is coming largely from small farms:

size (acres) 2012 2007 change
1 to 9 1,300 920 380
10 to 49 4,976 3,898 1,078
50 to 179 6,419 5,909 510
180 to 499 5,353 5,874 -521
500 to 999 4,229 4,714 -485
1000 to 1999 4,075 4,362 -287
2000+ 5,637 5,492 145
Total 31,989 31,169 820

Almost 1,460 new farms smaller than 50 acres! Small farms saw 41% growth in the 1-to-9-acre category, 28% growth in the 10-to-49-acre category. That's a lot of new small businesses. That gain was offset only by apparent consolidation of a lot of bigger farms. We lost just about 1,300 farms between 180 and 1,999 acres, with a small increase in the largest farms of 2,000 acres or more.

Alas, not growing in South Dakota: Democrats... and voters in general:

GOP Dem Ind Total Reg
May 4, 2010 233,347 194,642 82,071 512,125
May 1, 2014 235,838 175,406 96,547 509,629
diff 2,491 -19,236 14,476 -2,496
%change 1.1% -9.9% 17.6% -0.5%

We can't tell from the official numbers whether Democrats have swelled the Independent ranks or if Dems have simply checked out and new voters have leaned Indy. But the voter registration totals show that over the last four years, in a period when we've enjoyed at least 3.8% population growth, we've seen a slight drop in the number of people willing to participate in the democratic process.

Sounds like I'd better go find those new farmers and sign them up to vote!