Agency RSS

Another Tool to Enhance Water Quality




For Immediate Release:  September 20, 2017
Media Contact:  Maggie Stensaas, 605.773.4073

Another Tool to Enhance Water Quality
By Mike Jaspers, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture


In South Dakota, we have a long legacy of working together to both produce food for the world and protect and enhance our natural resources, from the soil we use for crops and grass to the water we fish in, swim in and drink. I recently had the privilege of attending a ceremony at the Sioux Empire Fair where the seven millionth acre in South Dakota was enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program. More acres are enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program in South Dakota than in any other state in the nation. This is a great milestone for a program that does so much to help producers implement practices on their cropland and pastures that will enhance and protect South Dakota’s natural resources while at the same time allowing them to grow their crops and raise their livestock.


This year there is an additional program available to South Dakota producers to help them protect water quality in the state. The new buffer strip incentive program offers producers a decrease in their property taxes if they put in and maintain buffer strips on numerous bodies of water in our state. Buffer strips are areas of vegetation that border waterbodies and trap sediment and other runoff to prevent them from entering a waterbody. Under this program, producers, or other landowners, can be eligible for a 40 percent discount on their property tax if they install and maintain a buffer strip, between 50 and 120 feet wide that is planted to perennial vegetation, along an eligible lake, river or stream. The buffer strip can still be used for certain activities, such as haying and grazing, during certain periods throughout the year.


To enroll in this program, producers will have to fill out an application and send it to the director of equalization in the county they file property taxes in. The South Dakota Department of Revenue has a copy of an application that producers can download and fill out, as well as contact information for directors of equalization in South Dakota, on their website. Additionally, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources has developed a helpful tool that allows landowners to view and download maps of the 575 eligible lakes and 11,000 miles of eligible streams. The map can also be used to estimate buffer strip lengths and acres. Links to both the application and map can be found on the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s homepage, http://sdda.sd.gov/.


As a producer, I work hard every day to leave our state better than I found it. I know that my neighbors and producers across the state do the same. This program, particularly when used in conjunction with other programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, is an additional tool to help producers remain good stewards of our natural resources and a reason for South Dakotans to celebrate.