Once the need was identified, SDSU Extension began providing training sessions in Spanish to dairy employees across the state. At the same time, they began providing cultural training to dairy owner/managers. Within four years, milk quality and overall milk production increased by about 100 pounds of milk per cow, said Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist.
"Our research has shown us what the best milking procedures and cattle handing practices are, but until they are adopted by the labor force, you can't expect to see results," said Garcia. "It's the role of SDSU Extension to provide information we gain through research to the right individuals in a way that make sense to them."
Similar examples of the interconnected relationship between the University and SDSU Extension abound, said Rosie Nold, SDSU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources. "When you have educators, researchers and SDSU Extension working together it is a powerful combination," Nold said. "Whether it is economists helping agri-business start ups develop a marketing plan; wheat breeders releasing wheat varieties that will thrive in South Dakota's growing climate or SDSU Extension State Veterinarian helping livestock producers overcome herd health challenges following Winter Storm Atlas -the Land Grant system plays an integral role in South Dakota's agriculture industry."
Support for agribusiness in the state has not gone unnoticed. According to a recent study published by Colorado State University agriculture economists, South Dakota ranked No. 1 as the most agribusiness-friendly state in the nation. The study reviewed and ranked states on everything from governmental regulations and services pertaining to agriculture inputs and meats and livestock products, to funding of the state's Agriculture Department and percentage of the population with degrees in agriculture, environment and sciences.
South Dakota's ranking didn't surprise Matt Diersen, SDSU Extension Risk & Business Management Specialist and Professor of Economics. "In South Dakota agriculture does not take a secondary role to some other industry - it is not side-lined in this state," Diersen said. "Because there is an inherent understanding of the needs of agri-business throughout the state, it impacts everything from the trained labor force to the state's infrastructure."
In the case of Bel Brands, all these factors played a role in opening their newest plant in South Dakota. The plant is complete and should be fully operational by July. Once it is fully staffed, it will provide about 275 South Dakotans with competitive salaries and benefits.
"We have everything we need here in Brookings; access to milk, great people, great economical vision and a university that provides excellent support as well as research. When you put all those things together, it was the right environment for us," Moudry said.