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SD Drought Affects Main Street Business

August 15, 2012, 10:00 PM by Peggy Moyer

SD Drought Affects Main Street Business

Drought conditions across much of the country have hit crop producers hard. And in an agricultural state, like South Dakota, the effects trickle down the line.

Kyle Wosje has been raising cattle for ten years, so it's no surprise to find him at a cattle show at the Turner County Fair. His goal is to grow his herd every year, but drought conditions this summer put that plan on hold.

"If we'd had normal rainfall numbers we probably could've increased cow numbers and now we're not going to," Wosje said.

The majority of those oh-ing and ah-ing over the new farm equipment really aren't even old enough to drive it. But a few men window shopping say this probably isn't going to be the year for too many big sales.

"There's an old saying. If farmers have money, farmers will spend it. When they're not making any money, they don't have anything to spend. So they don't," Lennox farmer Alan Rops said.

Rops has been farming for more than 30 years near Lennox. He says the state has been in a wet cycle and so this year's dry conditions are forcing people to think a little differently about their spending.

"This will probably be a year where you just kind of let things ride. And you ride it out. Farmers in the 50's and Depression years in the 30's, that’s what they did. You got to ride it out and that's probably what's going to happen now. And it'll be a change because we haven't ridden anything out for a while," Rops said.

"I think everybody's in a wait-and-see kind of holding pattern. There haven't been any knee-jerk reactions on anything," Wosje said.

Wosje says October and November will be a more telling time for farmers, when they find out how much corn is actually in the fields. Rops says equipment dealers probably understand these prices are out of reach this year for those hit by the drought, but he says many Main Street businesses will feel the effects when farmers and ranchers start to make even small tweaks to their budgets.

"It changes in terms of just pulling back. It may be just a little bit, but you're pulling back in all those segments. If a lot of people pull back a little bit, that becomes a whole lot," Rops said.

Rops says the farm bill is important to all South Dakotans, not just farmers, because of the trickle down effect to main street businesses and the state's overall economy.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A grammatical error was corrected in this story.

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