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New Pix Tell Deeper Meaning of Ag Dept’s Devouring of Environmental Regulation

The new Department of Agriculture (and Natural Resources) makes clear the hierarchy we expected from this ill-advised submerger—environmental protection buried under ag-industrial interests—with the imagery on its redesigned webpage.

Scroll past the distractingly homepage sliding banner and you’ll see a section titled “Happening Now.” What is happening now under DA(NR)’s watch? Well, we have ag interests literally trampling over environmental interests, as DA(NR) shows livestock (ah, bison, it appears) wading through and inevitably pooping in the river:

DANR Ag Env Services Buffalo Poop
DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.

Maybe DA(NR) Secretary Hunter Roberts is trying to show us the kind of agricultural activity his office is trying to discourage. After all, Secretary Roberts just penned an article for the June South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems Quality on Tap! newsletter (see pp. 8–9) extolling the virtues of riparian buffer strips. He’s coming to the Governor’s Ag Summit Friday to say the same good things at lunch about growing grass by the river. One key criterion of South Dakota’s tax breaks for cultivating grassy buffer strips is that landowners are supposed to keep cattle from grazing that grass from May through September. Those yellowing leaves in the background suggest these bison may be enjoying their riparian repast in September or October… but I’m leaning toward September, as the critters depicted come from the cooler clime of North Dakota. Secretary Roberts’s graphics team appear to have selected a photo by Jason Lindsey of bison in the Little Missouri River in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, up in North Dakota. So maybe Secretary Roberts is just razzing his North Dakota counterparts: See? North Dakota thinks they’re so smart keeping their separate departments for Agriculture and Environmental Quality, but look at all the poop in their water! More bureaucracy means more bovine excrement!

But I’m working too hard trying ascribe decent intent to Secretary Roberts. This picture from North Dakota looks more like a hastily chosen stock photo that fails to represent either Agriculture (the TRNP herd are wild animals), Environmental Services, or South Dakota.

The other images thoughtlessly slapped on DA(NR)’s homepage send similarly mixed messages. The department gives us an image of fragile and gravely eroded land with one tree in sight, titled “Conservation and Forestry” (perhaps an admonishment to farmers—this is what happens when you rip out your shelterbelts?):

DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.
DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.

…a riverscape representing the Office Of Water, with the central image not the water itself but the human engineering driven into and across it:

DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.
DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.

…and some industrial activity in Pierre amidst leafless trees and land looking brown and lifeless:

DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.
DANR website, screencap 2021.07.07.

Dismaying as this poor design may be, the DA(NR)’s redesigned website images aptly capture the result of corporate capture of environmental regulation: an absence of intentional stewardship and a general disregard for the living, green Earth.


  1. mike from iowa 2021-07-07 16:50

    So Noem has to hire buffalo from out of state because……..reasons. No instate buffs up to the rigorous challenge of working for her highness?

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-07-07 17:24

    You know Cory, someone at the state level continually picks photographs that are “fake news”. Who can it be and why? Its a conspiracy.

  3. leslie 2021-07-07 19:21

    Ian Fury laughs at people who don’t know the difference between North/South Dakota.

    We laugh at people who don’t know the difference between Obama and Trump, and communists and democratically elected Georgian US senators.

    Uneducated Republican politicians.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-07 19:22

    Well…we’re spending a literal millions of dollars on Public Relations professionals and their support staffs in the Governor’s Office and in the various departments. Yet, for all that cash, we rely on stock photos, from other states, from photographers working for other states (who I assume we pay a royalty for use) for use in South Dakota publications. Help me understand this. Are the people in Pierre lazy?? Are they unimaginative??? Are they careless??? Do they not give one hoot about the quality of their work. That’s not in question. That is obvious.

  5. leslie 2021-07-07 19:27

    She could actually get bison/Missouri River photos from several South Dakota Indian reservations if she had anything other than a racist administration and s real relationship with our Lakota/Dakota/Nakota brothers and sisters.

    Instead she partners with North Dakota red necks to legislate against Standing Rock tar sands pipeline protestors/water protectors.

  6. John Dale 2021-07-07 19:30

    I’ve recently been asked to participate in a proposal for how to restore the American family farm (AFF).

    I view the AFF as the secret to American power.

    I think we need to make modern farming techniques available to the atomic American family (first).

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-07 20:10

    Well…good luck with that, John Dale…Its an old man’s job these days. The last time I went to my hometown and hung around, I met very few young farmers under 50 years old.

  8. Donald Pay 2021-07-07 20:33

    Gawd. Are there no professionals left in Pierre? I know it’s a website, and the important stuff has got to be clickable, but that is embarrassing.

  9. mike from iowa 2021-07-07 20:42

    You won’t restore family farms spreading drumpf won the election, covid was a hoax, libs are socialists bs.

  10. grudznick 2021-07-07 21:11

    Hilarious! Plus those are great photographs, probably taken by a high-end photo-grapher.

  11. Bob Newland 2021-07-07 21:54

    The “family farm” will again prevail. But we will undergo great realizations prior to that truth.

    One of those realizations will be that there are too many of us. The solution will not be pretty.

  12. jerry 2021-07-08 03:40

    So then, along comes Biden to help. What the hell will republican ranchers and farmers do? Will they finally pull their collective heads out of their nether region and understand that their party could have done the same thing years ago? Naw, probably not, that would mean taking a look at their racist Christian false ideals.

    “OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Biden administration plans to issue a new rule to protect the rights of farmers who raise cows, chickens and hogs against the country’s largest meat processors as part of a plan to encourage more competition in the agriculture sector.

    The new rule that will make it easier for farmers to sue companies they contract with over unfair, discriminatory or deceptive practices is one of several steps that the White House plans to announce in the next few days. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also expected to tighten the definition of what it means for meat to be labeled a “Product of USA” to exclude when animals are raised in other countries and simply processed in the United States.”

    What will the West River haters do now that Biden has pulled the rabbit from the hat to get what they have always said they wanted? What is COOL if it ain’t Biden in his cool shades getting stuff done for America, gotta love it man.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-08 06:02

    The pictures chosen for the website also symbolize the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (etc.)’s longstanding lack of interest in the traditional Jeffersonian vision of independent small farms. The pictures show no families, no people engaged in independent farming. The DA(NR) favors corporate farms run by a few wealthy operators inclined to support the business-über-alles, Koch/ALEC policies of our one-party regime.

  14. Aaron 2021-07-08 07:25

    They should have got a pic of a tile outlet draining directly into a major lake from a field that has been overloaded with liquid dairy cafo manure for two years in a row. Way more efficient than what those bison can do.

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