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Corn vs. Cottonwoods: SD Must Plow More Acres to Meet Global Demand

The Missouri River dams, riverside development, and changing land use are eliminating our prairie cottonwood forests. The Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs conservation plans could protect those cottonwood stands, among other things.

But growing global demand livestock could clobber cottonwoods and conservation, according to SDSU crop business expert Kim Dillivan:

World coarse grain trade is expected to increase 27 percent during the decade, with most of this increase accounted for by corn which he said is projected to be 80 percent of coarse grain trade in 2022.

...Assuming corn growers in other states continue to produce the same share of our nation’s corn, and the U.S. exports 20.3 more MMT in 2022/23 than today, South Dakota will need to increase production by almost 40 million bushels — 7.5 percent of 2012 production — just to meet the increase in export demand. This increase does not account for any change in corn demand because of expanded livestock exports.

Since 2011, global trade of soybeans and soybean products has been larger than trade in wheat or coarse grains.

..."Assuming soybean growers in other states continue to produce the same share of our nation’s soybeans, and the U.S. exports 2.6 MMT more soybeans in 2022/23 than today, South Dakota will need to increase production by 4.5 million bushels — a little more than 3 percent of 2012 production," Dillivan said ["Expert: SD Must Increase Corn Production to Meet Demand," Yankton Press and Dakotan, 2013.10.13].

If the market and certain Republicans have their way, South Dakota will be nothing but one giant federally-subsidized factory farm... at least until SDSU figures out how to turn cottonwoods into cattle feed.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.14

    Minnesota Bound is a weekly outdoor television show produced and starring Ron Schara. He's a very big shot among the American hunting/fishing set. He's often aired SD segments, usually hunting something. Just last Sunday he did one in Winner on pheasant hunting. Talked with locals, hung out, and hunted of course.

    He just started a series regarding habitat loss. To my knowledge he's never done anything like that before. This first episode focused on farm run-off pollution. He was even-handed and fair. He interviewed farmers as well as scientists and outdoors people. He made no condemnations.

    I urge you to Google Minnesota Bound and watch that part of the 10/13 show. It was the first part.

    When I see someone like Mr. MN Outdoors begin addressing the problem of wildlife habitat and water quality diminishment, that tells me this issue is ballooning rapidly. Midwest states like MN, WI, IL, MI know that NE and the Dakotas are the nursery for their wildlife and it matters to them very much what happens there. There is a big population in Midwest states.

    South Dakota, they Will get involved in your land use business. You ought to take some positive and autonomous action while you can to preserve habitat, maybe forestall outside intervention.

  2. rollin potter 2013.10.14

    Hey DEB, south Dakota loves outside intervention!!!!!!!!
    Big Dairy grants and loans along the I-29 corridor!!!!
    Big loans and grants to the cheese factories coming to South Dakota!!!!
    Big loans and grants to northern beef packers owned by foreignors!!!!!
    Block grant development loans,"backed by State Money," to any smooth talker that comes along and turns to cash and leaves town or goes on local government payroll!!!!
    You can go on and on here!!!

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.14

    Excellent point Rollin. The problem here is that the coming intervention will be directly contrary to SD preferences.

  4. JoeBoo 2013.10.16

    I hated Cottonwood trees, they are worthless, and I'm allergic to them.

  5. interested party 2013.10.16

    Populus deltoides: "Native Americans considered cottonwood trees important, and every part of the tree
    was utilized by at least one cultural group. Unlike most other plants used by Indians of the North American Desert, cottonwoods were used in most utility categories including building materials, fuel, tools, medicines, ceremonial objects and even food."

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