Ag Lands Task Force Meeting Results

For Immediate Release:

Nov. 13, 2018

Pierre, SD


The South Dakota Agricultural Land Assessment Implementation and Oversight Advisory Task Force met in the Capital Building on November 13.  The much-anticipated study by Dr. Matthew Elliott and his team from South Dakota State University was finalized and presented.  You can find the full results of this study by visiting .


“We are extremely thankful for the thoroughness that Dr. Elliot and his team have put into this project.  The study’s conclusions are consistent with Stockgrowers members‘ experiences.”  said South Dakota Stockgrowers Association President Gary Deering


Deering, Stockgrowers’ lobbyist Jeremiah M. Murphy, and Executive Director James Halverson were on hand to listen in on the results.


Dr. Elliott, the study’s author, explained his methodology and results. Dr. Elliott’s team concluded:

  • NRCS soil ratings provide measures of soil productivity/capability, but are less accurate in predicting the most probable use* of Ag land– particularly in Western SD.
  • NRCS ratings do not measure highest and best use*.
  • Alternative methods and additional data can be used to improve highest and best use measures and better predict most probable use of Ag land.
  • The additional data and updated methods would be consistent with the Appraisal Institute’s definitions of highest and best and most probable use, and consistent with the Appraisal Foundation’s standards for mass appraisal and highest and best use determination.


After review and thorough discussion of the study results, the task force then considered three pieces of legislation that were brought forward.  The first would allow land that has been in grass for at least 10 years to be classified as “non-cropland”.  The second would apply the “Actual Use” as the basis for all ag land classification, and the third would provide the basis to move forward with considering data from Dr. Elliott’s study and South Dakota State University when classifying ag lands.  The first and third bills were passed as well as a motion to promote a pilot test program with 10-20 counties throughout the state implementing the “Most Probable Use” method.


Jeremiah Murphy testified that the first two bills are consistent with Stockgrowers’ policy and are consistent with legislation Stockgrowers have previously supported. Murphy acknowledged that the third bill to implement steps suggested by Dr. Elliot appears consistent with Stockgrowers’ concerns with the current system. He told legislators that the study confirmed at the 30,000 foot level the experiences Stockgrowers members were having at the ground level. Murphy also pointed out that Dr. Elliot studied “Actual Use Method” as well as “Most Probable Use Method” and asked that each of these approaches remain in consideration.


“The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association continues to be at the forefront of this issue as we understand the importance of it not only for our members, but for agricultural producers throughout the state.  As profits in livestock production continue to diminish and margins tighten, we understand that property taxes need to be assessed fairly.  Livestock production is the number one sector of South Dakota’s largest industry and we need to make it easier for producers to compete, and for young producers to get started, not create barriers by taxing them out of business.” said James Halverson.  “We will continue to fight for an equitable tax structure throughout our state so that livestock production can continue to provide the back bone for our rural economies and communities.” He added.


“Now that the study has been presented it’s time to get to work and make sure the agricultural landowners that make up South Dakotas largest economic industry are taxed fairly in order to sustain this business for years to come.” Added Deering


For more information or to join the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association’s efforts please contact our office at (605) 342-0429.


*Per the Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, 6th Edition.