South Dakota, represent!
I learn all sorts of fun South Dakota facts from my Twitter friends. For instance, the USDA reported that in 2013, South Dakota was the nation's leading producer of bison, oats, and sunflowers. That list sounds so much more concrete, so much more vivid, than health, wealth, and beauty... let's update DeeCort Hammitt!
Hail, South Dakota,
A great state of the land!
Bison, oats, and sunflowers,
That's what makes her grand!
Then this evening, a friends shows me this map created by Seth Kadish showing USDA data on cattle per capita in the United States:
There are 87.7 million head of cattle in the United States. That's 0.28 cattle per American.
Nine states have more cattle than people, all adjacent on the Great Plains, plus Iowa. The highest cattle count per person is right here in South Dakota, with 4.32 hoofed mooers per person.
In other words, South Dakota has more bull per person than anywhere else in the country.
As you drive by those bovine pastures on your way to the 14-81 for a Jacks Burger, consider that each pound of beef your 4.32 cattle produce requires nearly 2,500 gallons of water to produce. Each dairy cow produces 120 pounds of wet manure per day. (Feel free to weigh your own production... or take the EPA's word that it takes 20 to 40 people to produce the same amount of poop.)
And still, with all those cattle around, Northern Beef Packers couldn't turn a profit. Go figure.