Agriculture in Rapid City

Agriculture is the life-blood of South Dakota. It is our state’s No. 1 industry and the second leading industry in western South Dakota. For the farmers and ranchers who work the land, it is more than a job; it is a career and a way of life. Although the way things are done has changed, agriculture remains the common thread of linking the citizens, businesses and communities of our area.

Agriculture by the numbers:

  • $25.6 billion economic impact each year
  • More than 19 million acres of cropland
  • More than 23 million acres of pastureland
  • Generates 20 percent of our state’s economic activity
  • Employs over 115,000 South Dakotan
  • 98 percent of South Dakota farms are family owned and operated
  • One South Dakota producer raises enough food to feed 155 people in the U.S. and abroad each year

In Pennington County:

  • Nearly 600 working farms
  • Over 1 million acres of farmland
  • More than 222,000 acres of cropland
  • Average farm size: 1,800 acres

Western South Dakota’s top harvested crop is winter wheat. Livestock production in western South Dakota is in vast abundance with beef cattle, sheep and bison as the top three products. South Dakota is ranked first in the nation for bison production and fifth in the nation for beef cattle production.

Natural Resources

The Black Hills are an emerald green oasis towering above the endless sea of high-plains prairie that surrounds them. Ponderosa pines predominately occupy these forests, although South Dakota’s State Tree, the Black Hills Spruce, along with the Trembling Aspen, Paper Birch and other bottomland hardwood trees are present on most sites.

Elevations reach as high as 7,300 feet, and while the geography and terrain is tremendously varied, it is undeniably breathtaking. Wildlife is diverse and plentiful, ranging from impressive trout fisheries to big game species like elk, bison, whitetail and mule deer, and bighorn sheep. In many ways, the Black Hills are a mixing ground of east and west, of mountains and plains and of moist and arid climates.

The Black Hills region is home to 10 working sawmills that manufacture a variety of lumber products, plus nine secondary manufacturers that produce particleboard, posts and poles, shavings, wood pellets, bark and compost. The Black Hills Forest Industry employs nearly 1,500 people.

Premier Ag Events

Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo ©
Jan. 25-Feb. 3, 2019

The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo is the second largest event in the state of South Dakota following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. An estimated 331,000 people attend the western festival that features 120 different livestock, horse and rodeo events along with over 300 vendors to shop from.

In 2012, an economic impact study indicated that Black Hills Stock Show has an economic Impact of $21.9 million dollars, with a direct economic impact of $15.2 million.

The Central States Fair | Aug. 16-25, 2019

The annual Central States Fair allows Rapid City residents and surrounding communities to partake in fair activities including the carnival, free stage entrainment, exhibiting crafts and culinary in the open class competitions, cattle shows and multiple horse events. The Central States Fair also offers nine nights of grandstand entertainment from concerts to the Range Days Rodeo.