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Daugaard Celebrates Socialism as Foundation of South Dakota Agriculture

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.


  1. mike from iowa 2016-08-02 09:07

    6 million in grant funding? Marlboro Barbie’s handlers-Charles and David koch, carry that much around as pocket change.

  2. Don Coyote 2016-08-02 12:16

    @cah: “… a jubilant celebration of socialism in Britton yesterday”

    Hardly. If you’d brush up on your history Cory, you’d find that it’s nothing more than the state parroting the American System economic plan promoted by Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the Whigs during the early 1800’s where the government provided subsidies for roads, railroads, canals and other internal improvements to develop agricultural markets.

    The American System was based on Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures” and his mercantilist economic program which emphasized government assistance for national economic development. Capitalism’s roots are in mercantilism and historians regard mercantilism as a proto-capitalist system.

    The state core railroad system only owns the rail, with operations contracted out to railroads. As part of the contract, the railroads pay off the bonds sold to improve the rail lines and will eventually take over ownership.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-02 13:31

    Oh, Coyote, we can always count on your for desperate contrarianism. All your historical bleating does is emphasis that socialism runs deeper than you want to admit in the American politico-economic system.

    The free market said South Dakota’s small-town agriculture and transportation weren’t worth investing in. The state intervened in the free market by buying railroads. The state now owns railroads. That’s socialism, right here, right now.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2016-08-02 14:56

    If the railroads were real profitable the state would not have intervened. And the workers at the railroad and the grain terminal and the farms that produce the grain were educated at government, socialist, schools. But that does neither promote socialism nor capitalism. Some things are done better by business and some things are done better by government. Drawing that line in the right place is necessary.

    What would have happened if the government had not stepped in and bought the railroad. It has been a long time from when Janklow bought the railroad till it was upgraded enough to build this terminal. The farms got big, they sell more grain rather than feed it to livestock as they did before. So now they want to ship lots of grain rather than ship livestock. There is both pros and cons in this. But infrastructure is one of those things that fit government in a lot of places. It makes more sense to have government get involved with transportation than in building factories or packing plants.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-02 18:10

    HydroGuy, I am keenly aware that I live in a county and a state filled with people suffering a political identity crisis. I have to call ’em as I see ’em.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-02 21:30

    Even in their socialism, Roger, Daugaard and friends are still taking action to support corporate, export-oriented Big Ag instead of smaller, locally oriented production and sales.

  7. Adam 2016-08-03 13:39

    Anti-socialist farmers and ranchers are equivalent to black skinned white supremacist – blinded by ideology and unable to accept their very own skin color.

    There’s only way to practice socialism in a bigger way than working in Agriculture: by joining the military.

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