Faces of farming: Celebrating national ag month by highlighting area producers

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– March is National Agriculture Month, a time to honor those who play a vital role in producing food and products for the world.

South Dakota has a rich, agriculture-based history and it is the largest industry in the state.

There are 46,000 producers in South Dakota on 31,800 farms according to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. According to the Department of Ag, each year, one South Dakota producer raises enough food to feed 155 people in the U.S. and abroad.

KELOLAND News was able to talk to several producers in the area to share their stories:

Back Forty Beef

Photo courtesy of Back Forty Beef

Back Forty Beef, located near Bristol, South Dakota, is operated by Clint and Kelly Brandlee, alongside Clint’s parents. Clint and Kelly have a two-year-old daughter, Jaycee, and are expecting another baby in May. Together, the Brandlees raise Simmental/Angus cattle, corn, soybeans and small grains.

Erickson Family Farm

Photo courtesy of Erickson Family Farm

151 years. That is how long the Erickson family has been running their operation, south of Willmar, Minnesota, in the same spot their family settled on generations ago. The operation currently consists of dairy steer and crop land.

Rilling Produce

Photo courtesy of Rilling Produce

For three generations, Rilling Produce in Pierre, South Dakota, has been providing homegrown and quality produce to central South Dakota, as well as marketing produce in five states. Rilling Produce is owned and operated by Mark and Julie Rilling.

Scott Family Farms

Photo courtesy of Scott Family Farm

The Scott family has been farming the same ground for over 100 years, near Valley Springs, South Dakota. Jordan Scott is the fifth generation to operate the farm alongside his dad, Kevin. Jordan has a two-year-old son who will possibly be the sixth generation of farmers. They farm approximately 1,300 acres of corn and soybeans.

The Hofer Family

Photos courtesy of the Hofer Family

Lyndon and Barbie Hofer operate a family farm in Bridgewater, South Dakota. Their farm consists of 1,000 acres of farm ground, as well as a cow calf operation of 50 cows and 50 calves.

Granite View Farms

Photo courtesy of Granite View Farms

Granite View Farms is owned and operated by Mike and Nancy Johnson, along with their son, Dana, in Milbank, South Dakota. The Johnsons have been farming for all 40 years of their marriage and have three children.

Heiden Ranch

Photo courtesy of Heiden Ranch.

Caleb Heiden and his girlfriend Danielle Donovan, run a ranch and farm operation just south of Hartford, South Dakota. Heiden is a full time rancher and is also in the process of starting the new custom baling business, Heiden Custom Baling. Donovan works as a medical assistant at Sanford.

The couple has 50 head of cattle, with 24 of those ready to begin calving, which will be a challenge with the muddy conditions, but not as bad as 2019, Donovan said. They also have eight goats, 57 chickens, four baby turkeys and 10 ducklings.

Jungers Farms

Photo courtesy of Jungers Farms

Matt and Lindsey Jungers farm full time on their fourth generation farm in Watertown, South Dakota. The couple has two children who love growing up on the farm and living next door to their grandma, Lindsey said.

They raise corn, wheat and soybeans on 1,100 acres of crop land and over 3,000 Isowean pigs to finisher hogs each year. They have just begun getting custom processing on their operation and are working on being able to ship their custom products to consumers throughout South Dakota

Bieber Red Angus

Photo courtesy of Bieber Red Angus

Bieber Red Angus is a family-owned seedstock operation with roots in registered Red Angus cattle, located 10 miles west of Leola, South Dakota.

The family has over 50 years of experience in the beef cattle industry. Their herd was founded with proven cows from leading breeders. Today, they raise and sell performance-based bulls and females with a focus on strong maternal and carcass traits.

Frerichs Farms

Photo courtesy of Frerichs Farms

Frerichs Farms is a diversified operation located in Roberts County, South Dakota that focuses on practicing conservation and minimum tillage.

Jason and Aaron Frerichs are the main operators of the farm, with some help from their brother Ryan, who works off the farm, and their parents Kent and Faye. The operation consists of soybeans, corn, wheat, alfalfa and beef cattle.

Johnson Farms

Photo courtesy of Johnson Farms

Johnson Farms was founded in 1906 when John Johnson settled in the James River Valley near Frankfort, South Dakota.

The farm is now operated by John’s great-grandson, Brian Johnson, and his wife, Jamie, with help from their four children: Ella (14), Lila (12), Leo (9) and Evelyn (4). Brian’s parents, Alan and Mickie, are recently retired but still help out during the busy season, Jamie said.

KELOLAND News wants to recognize the people who are part of the agricultural industry whether they’re a farmer, rancher or involved in another way.

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