The State of South Dakota is providing a low-interest loan to help three Kadoka entrepreneurs make moonshine:
The South Dakota Value Added Finance Authority voted 5-0 last week to make a $178,000 loan to Badlands Distillery. Terms are 3 percent interest for 10 years. The new company’s owners are Mark and Sandy Eschenbacher and James Herber, all of Kadoka [link added; Tom Griffith, “State Pours Loan Money into Badlands Distillery,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.12.28].
Badlands Distillery‘s product would knock me on my can (as might the Stillettes, the comely young women the company dresses up as their “brand ambassadors,” if I’m not careful with what I say about their product), but I respect the distillery’s business plan. The distillers plan to grow their own corn, 15 acres of white corn, which suggests that with plan to add value, farmers can make a living and create jobs on farms far smaller than the section-spanning factory farms that dominate the landscape while decimating rural populations. The distillers will also offer a farmer or two the chance to rotate rye and barley into their crops, further mitigating the damage of Big Corn.
But consider that while the state offers a big still 3% interest, college students pay 4.66% on Stafford loans and 5% on Perkins loans (hey hey! after letting them die in Congressional gridlock this fall, Congress revived Perkins loans for two years in the budget deal… which Senator John Thune still voted against). Graduate students pay 7.21% interest on Grad PLUS loans.
In capitalist terms, South Dakota thinks hooch is a better investment than higher education.