State leaders are saying more dairy cows could mean more money for South Dakota.
Governor Daugaard has been trying to recruit dairy farmers to the state. But he and other leaders expect most of the dairy growth to come from farmers already here.
With about 200 cows at his Brown County dairy, Mike Frey says his barn is full. He expanded about five or six years ago and doesn't plan to expand again, yet.
"We'd like to see how this plays out over the next six, eight, ten years and see where it goes," Frey said.
Frey understands state leaders would like to see the state's dairy industry grow. In order to add to his herd, Frey would have to build, and that would mean an additional financial investment. That's just one risk added to others that make him more comfortable, for the time being, keeping his operation at its current size.
Still, Frey says each dairy farmer faces a different situation.
"You could ask ten different producers and you could get ten different answers. I mean some people might be at a size they feel comfortable with and some might be bringing younger generation family members in so they might be growing," Frey said.
With sons 11 and 14 years old, Frey says he could be looking to expand in the future. If his sons want to farm with him, he says adding to his herd would be worth the risk that could come with it.
Even though he's not looking to grow now, he agrees a larger dairy herd statewide would be beneficial and he's OK with efforts to attract out-of-state dairies.
"It would be good for our whole state because there are significant dollars that dairy cows do generate," Frey said.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is giving its expansion pitch to dairies of all sizes, saying both large and small operations can help fill the need in South Dakota.
The department has been reaching out to county leaders and local producers to tell them about the need. Staff will be doing that this week at the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls.