Governor Dennis Daugaard spoke at a jubilant celebration of socialism in Britton yesterday. Governor Daugaard cheered the opening of the massive Wheaton-Dumont Coop Elevator as a great boost to South Dakota agriculture, promising competition and better service for grain producers.
According to Wheaton Dumont GM Philip Deal, the Britton facility responds to the free market’s abandonment of small country elevators:
About 20 years ago, main line railroads began to publish freight spreads on their tariffs that called for lower freight weight for bigger trains, Deal said. Eventually, the lowest freight weight was for trains that exceeded 100 cars in length, he said, which “ultimately spelled the doom for the future of small country elevators.”
In response, grain terminals capable of loading 100 cars began to sprout up across the country.
“But in the Britton area that was somewhat out of reach since the elevator was served on a state-owned rail line,” Deal said [Victoria Lusk, “Britton Celebrates Opening of Grain Terminal,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.08.02].
Come again—state-owned? Yup, another response to another failure of the market to support the South Dakota economy:
Historically speaking, had it not been for government intervention in the 1980s, the new Wheaton Dumont grain terminal just south of Britton might not exist.
“The rail line was going be abandoned,” Britton farmer Kirk Jones said. “My dad (Sen. Curtis Jones) and (Gov.) Bill Janklow saved it.”
By 1980, 60 percent of the tracks in South Dakota had been abandoned due to a failing rail industry, a decline that started in the late 1940s, according to the South Dakota Sate Historic Preservation Office.
Improvements to vehicles and roads, including the interstate system, meant rail passenger cars were doomed. And the farm economy throughout the region “continued to contract and consolidate,” the history reads. Thus, the branch rail lines serving rural communities became unprofitable.
That’s when the government stepped in and purchased 1,254 miles of track under the newly formed South Dakota Rail Authority [Victoria Lusk, “Britton Grain Terminal Opens After Rail Line Upgrades,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.31].
The free market says rail service to rural South Dakota is not profitable. The State of South Dakota thus buys—i.e., socializes—the rail lines to support private business that otherwise would not survive:
Millions of dollars of state and private funds for rail line upgrades to the state-owned Britton Line in northeastern South Dakota and construction of a grain terminal near Britton are also moving forward. Work on the Britton Grain Terminal broke ground earlier this year, and it’s expected to be completed in August 2016.
“As soon as the state made a commitment on rail rehabilitation, then we were able to make a commitment on a $30 million facility,” said Philip Deal, general manager of Wheaton Dumont Co-op Elevator [“Rail Funding Expected to Fuel Job Growth, Development in South Dakota,” AP via AgWeb, 2015.11.02].
Governor Daugaard isn’t the only GOP socialist. Socialist Bernie Sanders has evidently rubbed off on Senator John Thune:
South Dakota U.S. Sen. John Thune, who helped secure the most recent $6 million in federal grant funding, said the improvements near Philip and Huron will support job creation and attract future business development [“Rail Funding…,” 2015.11.02].
Governor Daugaard said in Britton yesterday that “agriculture is the foundation of South Dakota’s economy.” And the foundation of agriculture, like so much else in South Dakota, is socialism.