Some Advice For New Parents

A column by First Lady Linda Daugaard

Much has changed for Dennis and me in the last five years. Moving from Dell Rapids to Pierre to serve as governor and first lady has been quite the adventure. But there are other titles we’ve recently acquired that we value even more: grandpa and grandma.

Becoming a grandma has reminded me how much new parents have to decide in nine short months. What color to paint baby’s bedroom, which stroller to buy, whether to know the gender ahead of time – the list of questions can be endless for first-time parents.

Though it can all be overwhelming, the decisions that really matter are those that affect a baby’s health. When Dennis was first elected, he was shocked to learn how many infants were not reaching their first birthday, and that South Dakota’s infant mortality rate was higher than the rates in surrounding states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.

This unsettling truth led him to ask me to lead a task force on infant mortality in South Dakota. I worked with a group of doctors, nurses, tribal health care workers, midwives, social workers and Department of Health officials to understand the causes of the problem. In our research, we found that deciding against early elective deliveries (EEDs), abstaining from tobacco, learning safe sleep practices and receiving prenatal care are critical to an infant’s wellbeing.

Inducing early for non-medical reasons can be dangerous. There are no known health benefits for EEDs, and there are significant health risks for baby – low birthweight, respiratory syndrome, pneumonia and even death. I’m very pleased that 20 of South Dakota’s birthing hospitals have signed pledges to work with us to reduce EEDs.

The infant mortality rate for infants of mothers who smoke is almost twice as high as it is for infants born of non-smokers. Last year, about 15 percent of pregnant women smoked. Though that is an improvement from 2011 when the task force began its work, South Dakota still has one of the highest rates of mothers smoking during pregnancy.

Along with abstaining from tobacco products, it’s critically important for expectant mothers to seek the care they need during the first trimester. In South Dakota, 72 percent of women received prenatal care in the first trimester last year. I’ve heard stories from women who have been told to wait until they are 12 weeks along to schedule prenatal care visits. That’s not good advice. Those who seek that care early on are less likely to lose their child within the first year.

Also before baby is born, expectant parents should learn about safe sleep practices. Infants need to sleep on a firm surface covered by a fitted sheet. Pillows, blankets, toys and crib bumpers should not be in the crib. Babies need to be placed on their back and it’s best for them to sleep in light clothing. Family members and other caregivers also need to know about these important practices.

The good news is that the infant mortality rate is declining in South Dakota. According to the Department of Health, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births is down from 2013’s rate of 6.5 to 5.9 in 2014. Last year’s rate is also below 2011’s 20-year low of 6.3. It’s important we keep working to increase prenatal care, promote safe sleep practices, and decrease tobacco use and EEDs to make sure that decline continues.

I know from experience there’s no way to fully prepare yourself for parenthood. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No parent is perfect. Know that by concerning yourself primarily with your baby’s health and safety, you’ll be just what your little one needs.

Fewer South Dakota Babies Die In 2014

PIERRE, S.D. – For the second year, South Dakota saw a decline in the number of babies dying before their first birthdays. New data released by the Department of Health today shows 73 infant deaths in 2014 for a rate of 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. That’s down from 2013’s rate of 6.5 and below the previous 20-year lows of 6.3 in 2011 and 6.4 in 2007. o ignored

“It’s so encouraging to see the number of infant deaths down for the second straight year,” said First Lady Linda Daugaard. “All the work to promote safe sleep practices, encourage early prenatal care and help pregnant women stop smoking is having an impact.” o ignored

Early prenatal care, decreased tobacco use in pregnancy and safe sleep practices were some of the strategies recommended by the 2011 Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality. That group was chaired by First Lady Linda Daugaard and its members have worked since then to implement the recommendations to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes for South Dakota babies. o ignored

The 2014 data also showed 72.2 percent of pregnant women in South Dakota received prenatal care in the first trimester as recommended. The percentage of women who smoked during pregnancy was 14.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 15 percent the year before. There were five deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2014, compared to nine in 2013. o ignored

“While we’re pleased with this progress, there is still more work to be done,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health. “We recognize the commitment of health care providers to assuring healthy birth outcomes for more South Dakota families and we’re pleased to be part of that effort as well.” o ignored

South Dakotans can learn more about healthy pregnancies at the department’s website.

Acid Food Processing Authority Program

According to the South Dakota Home Processed Foods Law, jams and jellies must be verified by a processing authority before they can be sold at a Farmers Market.  SDSU Extension is hosting a DDN program to train processing authorities or to update those who are already a processing authority.  The class will be held on Tuesday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Sites include the SDSU Regional Extension Centers is Sioux Falls, Pierre, Mitchell, Winner, Lemmon, Aberdeen and Watertown. Additional sites include the West River Ag Center in Rapid City, Human Services Center in Yankton and SDSU (Brookings Campus).

If you are interested in attending this class or have questions about this class, contact Lavonne Meyer at the Sioux Falls Regional Center in Sioux Falls.   She can be reached at phone number: 605-782-3290 or email address:

Preparing For A Dry Year

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard

It’s only April and it’s already looking like it will be a dry year. Right now, 99 percent of the state’s ground is abnormally dry. About 13 percent is experiencing moderate drought. The drought area includes northeastern South Dakota and another portion in Meade and Pennington counties, leaving 132,149 South Dakotans who live in an area affected by drought.

Because it’s so dry, we’re at an elevated risk for fires. The fire danger is currently “very high” for the Black Hills and “extreme” in counties surrounding the Black Hills. Grassland areas throughout the state are under a “red flag warning” from the National Weather Service.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division helps with response to wildfires on forested, state and private lands. Just in the last few days, the Division has reported fires near Fort Pierre, at Custer State Park, in the Palmer Gulch area and in Harding County.

The Sheep Draw Fire in Harding County is the worst we’ve experienced so far this year. With wind gusts up to 70 mph, the fire grew to 6,430 acres in one day. In response, I ordered two National Guard helicopters to assist those on the ground in putting out the fire. As I write this, the size of the Sheep Draw Fire is now estimated at almost 14,000 acres, but thanks to local firefighters, the state Division of Wildland Fire and others who are helping, the fire is 85 percent contained.

This could be just the beginning of a difficult fire season. I know some fires are inevitable – we can’t prevent lightning strikes or control how much moisture we receive – but there are still ways we can prevent fires.

We need to respect county burn bans when they’re in place. Where fires are permitted, never leave a fire unattended, completely extinguish fires before leaving the area and remind others to be cautious. Also, be mindful when operating equipment in dry areas.

Drier Than Average April Expected

The national climate forecast for April 2015, released March 31 by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, indicates drier than average conditions to continue in South Dakota and the Great Plains.

The drought outlook for the month ahead also shows likely expansion of drought across much of the state in the month ahead, said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist.

“This latest outlook projects an increased probability of drier than average conditions in South Dakota, Nebraska, and parts of surrounding states,” Edwards said. “This is not good news for us, given that we are already going into the growing season with a moisture deficit from the last several months.

She did add that one benefit of dry conditions in the early growing season is that planting and field preparation for spring planted crops, such as corn and soybeans, can be completed faster and more efficiently without saturated soils or ponding, as has been seen in many recent years in the eastern part of the state.

“There is some concern already that winter wheat has had some frost damage following the brief thaw in February in the western and central counties,” said Dennis Todey, SDSU Extension Climate Specialist & South Dakota State Climatologist. “For the wheat that did survive the warm period, now the lack of precipitation is a growing concern.”


He added that there was also winter wheat that did not emerge last fall because of the dry conditions.


With the dry outlook for the month ahead, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center also projects further expansion of drought conditions across most of South Dakota by month’s end.

Edwards suggested this may be a conservative estimate, as wildland fire activity continues in the western counties, an area that is not included in the expansion of drought in the drought outlook map.

“Wildland fire is a complicated indicator of drought”, Edwards said.

She explained that it relies on the wet years, such as 2013 and 2014, to grow vegetation to provide fuel for the fires.  “The lack of precipitation since last fall has sufficiently dried out the vegetation to cause the fire hazards that we are seeing now,” Edwards said.

Donation from Tripp/Mellette Farm Bureau Helped Stock Kitchens at Ronald McDonald Houses with Food and Milk

The Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau was recently part of an effort to stock the pantry and refrigerators at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Sioux Falls with much-needed groceries and milk.


Thanks in part to a generous $500 donation from the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau, the Ronald McDonald House near Sanford Hospital has a pantry stocked with almost $1,000 worth of groceries. In addition, this donation and others from County Farm Bureaus around the state have made it possible for fresh milk to be delivered weekly all year long to both Ronald McDonald Houses in Sioux Falls: the 21-room House near Sanford, and the 8-room House near Avera.


“In addition to the food, our donation was able to help out with the milk, too, which is one of the more needed things there at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Steve Waters, who farms near Carter and is President of the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau.


According to the staff at the Ronald McDonald House, this amount of groceries will last between one and two months. The milk is also a great gift to them, because it is both nutritious and convenient for the families staying there. When dealing with the illness of a child, the last thing the families should worry about is needing to go out to purchase food or milk.


“I’d like to thank South Dakota Farm Bureau for all that they do for us,” said Kevin Miles, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Dakota. “In the past year we’ve had over 1,200 families come through our charity, and it’s through gifts like this that we’re able to provide for them.”


“This donation was a pretty good size for our budget, but we were glad to do it,” Waters commented. A portion of the Tripp/Mellette donation will also be directed to a similar food-for-families project South Dakota Farm Bureau will organize at the Rapid City Regional Hospital later this spring.


Waters added that the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau may try to do a food-related project locally as well. “There are needs all over. We’ve been talking to our local food pantry, and we may try to do something there also.” He encourages any farm or ranch families who would like to be involved in Farm Bureau to speak with him or with Rob Koskan, Secretary of the County Farm Bureau board, who lives in Mellette County near Wood.


The grocery donation to the Ronald McDonald House is South Dakota Farm Bureau’s annual way to celebrate “Our Food Link,” a program of the American Farm Bureau Federation that recognizes the safe, abundant and affordable food provided by America’s farmers and ranchers.

USDA Finalizes Procedures for Sorghum Referendum

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing procedures for the upcoming referendum regarding the continuation of the Sorghum Checkoff Program and is announcing the dates it will conduct the referendum.

The Sorghum Promotion, Research, and Information Order requires that a referendum be conducted no later than seven years after the start of assessments, which began on July 1, 2008. For the program to continue, a majority of those voting must favor the continuation of the order.

USDA will conduct the referendum beginning on March 23, 2015, through April 21, 2015, at county USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices for producers and the Agricultural Marketing Service office for importers. Ballots may be obtained in person, by mail or facsimile at county FSA offices, or via the Internet.

Any eligible person engaged in the production or importation of sorghum from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2014, is eligible to participate. Individuals are required to provide documentation such as a sales receipt or remittance form that shows they engaged in the production or importation of sorghum.

The Sorghum Checkoff Program, and its 13-member board, is authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. The Sorghum Checkoff is intended to be a national, coordinated, self-help marketing program designed to strengthen the position of sorghum in the marketplace, maintain and expand existing domestic and foreign markets and uses for sorghum, and develop new markets and uses for sorghum.

The final procedures were published in the Nov. 18, 2010, Federal Register. The notice announcing the dates of the referendum were published in the Feb. 19, 2015, Federal Register.

For more information, contact Craig Shackelford, Marketing Specialist, Research and Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, 22 Jamesport Lane, White, GA 30184; Telephone: (470) 315-4246; Procedures and additional information about the referendum can be found at:

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!

By Laura Coti Garrett, MS, RDN

April is National Cancer Control Month and there is no better time than now to focus on living a healthy lifestyle to help prevent cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in order to lower your risk of cancer, you should stay at a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy diet and refrain from smoking. Do these recommendations sound familiar to you? If so, it’s because you’ve likely heard them before in connection with diabetes and heart disease. Following these guidelines will not only lower your risk of getting cancer, they will also help to prevent diabetes and heart disease too. Great news!

To give your diet cancer and disease-fighting power, focus on eating more plant foods. Colorful plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are bursting with antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage. Because cell damage is associated with an increased cancer risk, antioxidants may help to protect against cancer. In fact, studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk for some types of cancers.

Make it your goal to eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and veggies each day. Some simple ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet are by 1) making sure each meal you eat includes either a fruit or vegetable, 2) going “meatless” for one meal each day and eating a vegetarian meal instead and 3) keeping washed fruit on the counter and prepared veggies in the fridge so you can easily grab and go!

Interestingly, taking antioxidant supplements does not appear to be as beneficial for reducing cancer risk as eating fruits and vegetables. It seems that the health benefits of plant foods may be more complex than just being about antioxidant content, as plant foods contain many other nutrient compounds as well. The bottom-line is that to reduce cancer risk, its best (and most delicious) to get your antioxidants from food.

Get started today on powering up your diet with this simple-to-prepare Tomato Sauce recipe below!

Quick Tomato Sauce

2 -28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Fresh Garlic cloves crushed or diced

Oregano and pepper (optional)

Heat olive oil in a 4 qt. pot, add garlic and cook until slightly brown. You can use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic but add it to the sauce instead of the oil.  Next, pour in crushed tomatoes and cook for ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Add oregano and pepper to taste.

Laura Coti Garrett is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and diabetes educator. You can find her Dietitian Picks meal plans and shopping lists at Winner Super Foods

Sound Bites for social media or overhead announcements

Eat colorful fruits and vegetables to give your diet cancer and disease-fighting power.

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are powerful sources of cancer and disease-fighting antioxidants.

Improve your diet with plant foods. Aim to get at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables and at least 3 servings of whole grains each day.

Mom was right, you should eat your vegetables! Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have nutrients that may protect against cancer.

Include a fruit or vegetable with each meal to give your body a boost of antioxidants.

Trajedy in White River

julie charging whirlwind wth dog storyBy Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter

“It was a horrible, horrible thing. It was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen,” said acting Rosebud tribal chairman William Kindle last week about the death of Julia Charging Whirlwind, 49.

She died in a hospital after an early morning attack, Sat., March 14, by dogs near her home in the Rosebud community of Lower Swift Bear west of White River, S.D. in Mellette County.

“We’ve been with the family. We had a prayer vigil with the family last night (Wed., March 18),” Kindle said. “We assured them that something’s going to be done about these dogs that are running loose.

“We’re trying to assure the rest of the (Rosebud) population here that we want to get control of this so it doesn’t happen again. It was an awful tragedy and we don’t want it to take place again.”

He said tribal police with the help of Game, Fish, and Parks personnel were in the process of addressing the problem.

“They got a schedule to go through all the communities. Right here in Todd County, there are probably 15. Then we have one community there in the Winner area and also out at Ideal, north of Winner.

“There’s another community where the old town of Dixon used to be along Highway 44. And another one is down in the Herrick area. Hopefully we can get through all of them,” he said.

The officials were on the look-out especially for dogs that appeared to be roaming free, owned by no one. Unwanted, mangy ones. Whatever.

Most are captured, Kindle indicated, though some destroyed.

“What we don’t want to do is go out there and do a massive dog kill. That’s not our intent.

We certainly don’t want to come through a community and pick up any pets, family pets. We’ve got to identify those. We’re not after those,” he said.

Dogs being confined to their owners’ homes stand the best chance of not being taken. “We want to get off the streets, those that are loose and running wild,” Kindle explained.

Dogs captured at the various communities are being confined, Kindle continued.

“The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a large metal building out here just east of Rosebud, two or three miles out. And they are letting us use that building until we can get a permanent structure up somewhere.

We’re trying to locate some funding to get a permanent structure and get two or three people to man the operation,” he said.

It will be a place to keep the (impounded dogs) for 48 hours or whatever. Give people time to claim their pets. Try to get some collars and tags at that time for them. Unclaimed dogs after a certain time period will be euthanized, he said.

“We don’t want to. We don’t like the fact that we’re going to have to do some of that.”

Two dogs were killed at the site of the attack on Charging Whirlwind, March 14. Emergency personnel were called and one who responded was Mellette County sheriff Mike Blom. He shot the dogs.

According to media reports, other dogs in the area deemed vicious or dangerous were also destroyed that day.

According to Kindle, the dog attack certainly initiated the death of Charging Whirlwind, but possibly the trauma of the event rather than dog bites themselves were the specific cause.

He said autopsy results weren’t available as of mid-week, last week, but speculation among tribe members was that cardiac arrest from the attack may have been reason for the woman’s death.

Charging Whirlwind had five children and three grandchildren.

According to Rosebud tribal law enforcement administrator Marlin Enno, one of the two dogs killed by Sheriff Blom was a pit bull or a mixed breed pit bull.

The pups are valuable and raising them seems to have become popular on the Rosebud reservation, Kindle commented. “We’re seeing more and more of that breed. And you notice a lot of cross-bred dogs with pit bull blood in them. Apparently the breed is pretty popular right now,” he said

While tribal police and GF&P personnel continue to make their rounds of towns in search of dogs that need to be removed or destroyed, Enno cautioned people who may be on foot anyplace on the Rosebud reservation.

If you don’t know a dog, don’t be going up to it.

If you see a pack of dogs, don’t intimidate them or tease them. A pack can be as few as four or five dogs, he assessed.

If confronted by a snarling dog or dogs, Enno advised that people stand still.

“If you stand there and hold your ground, more than likely the dog isn’t going to bother you. It will back away because it sees you’re bigger than them,” he said.

“The biggest thing is don’t run. Because all you do is entice it (a dog or a pack), if you run. Then it turns into a hunt for them.”

Growing In Agriculture

Thanking our Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers 

A column by Secretary Lucas Lentsch 


This week marks National Ag Week with National Ag Day celebrated  which was on March 18.  We celebrate the farm and ranch families who supply our world with safe and affordable food. We also appreciate the consumers who place their confidence in our American feed, fuel, fiber and food system.

Consumers put their trust in America’s farmers and ranchers every day. Every time you visit the grocery store to pick up that gallon of milk or pound of beef, you place your trust in our nation’s food system. You trust that farmers and ranchers make good choices for animal care and plant health which in turn yields wholesome, nutritious and safe food for your family. As a result, we have the safest, most reliable food system in the world. Producers are also able to provide consumers with an abundance of choices among products and practices used to grow those products.

Here in South Dakota, we are proud of our 31,700 farm and ranch families and the wide variety of products they grow every year. From sunflowers to bison and corn to cattle, South Dakota continues to rank in the top 10 states for production. South Dakota farmers and ranchers continue to supply the food found on consumers’ plates around the world.

Our state’s agricultural industry realizes we would not be able to continue doing what we love without consumers’ support. During this National Ag Week, let’s celebrate the hardworking and productive farm and ranch families across our state. Let’s also thank our consumers for being a partner in this effort.  We are in this food system together.