Although their accents, landscapes, and reliance on the Mississippi River are quite different, farmers and ranchers from South Dakota and fishermen from south Louisiana met recently to see how connected they really are. As part of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Barnyard to Boatyard Conservation Exchange, three South Dakota farm and ranch couples came to south Louisiana in July for an educational outing where they learned about the trials and triumphs of managing businesses reliant on healthy Mississippi River Delta and Gulf of Mexico ecosystems in Louisiana.
The couples visited the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in Cocodrie and were provided an overview of economic topics including the Louisiana fishing guide industry, shrimp fishing, oyster operations, Gulf-based energy, and the ocean freight and shipping businesses. The ranchers and farmers also got a crash course on current Louisiana conservation topics like hypoxia or the “Dead Zone,” diversions and marsh building, salt water intrusion, economic and development impacts on the coast, and municipal water concerns. Providing true Louisiana hospitality, the ranchers and farmers were also treated to fishing trip along coastal Louisiana’s Cajun bayous.
Then in early August, three south Louisiana couples whose livelihoods depend on our state’s commercial fishing, tourism, and recreational fishing industries traveled to Sioux Falls to participate in an intensive briefing on the innovations and realities of grain and livestock farming and ranching in South Dakota. The focus of their trip was on South Dakota’s grain and livestock production, and the fishermen were briefed on production topics such as best practices for row-crop production, state and Federal conservation programs, drain tiling, nutrient management, Federal crop insurance incentives, municipal water issues, and current economic impacts. The trip was capped off by a trip to the Sioux Empire Fair.