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Published October 07, 2013, 11:32 AM

SD farmer gives back to cattle industry

Send a Cow to College raises funds for research and education.

By: Lura Roti, SDSU College of Agricultural and Biological Sciences

BROOKINGS, S.D. — When you ask Cory Eich to describe his farming operation, he says he, his wife, Leanne and his nephew, Kelly Endorf run a “typical South Dakota farm.”

And then he corrects himself.

“Well, we still run a cow herd and a lot of guys my age are phasing out of cows on this end of the state,” says the fourth-generation farmer who raises corn, soybeans, alfalfa and runs a cow and calf herd near Epiphany, S.D.

There are a couple reasons that Eich, 54, continues to raise cattle, the primary being their ability to add value to marginal acres and his overall operation.

“Value-added is a buzz word in agriculture. Well, in my mind cows are the original value-added commodity. They utilize leftover forages, graze marginal ground — basically, they are the great green machine,” says Eich, who adds that when he began farming in the early 1980s every farm was diversified with either hogs, dairy or beef cows supplementing their crop acres.

Even though grain prices have been good in recent years, perhaps motivating many farmers to get out of the cattle business, Eich says everything is cyclical and he sees cattle as being a good investment for young producers starting out in agriculture.

“Cattle are a good way for young producers to earn extra income to round out the year. Commodity prices the last few years have clouded everyone’s vision of where the money is,” he says. “You may not hit a home run every year with cows, but they will add to the bottom line year after year.”

Eich believes in the future of South Dakota’s cattle industry and gives back in several ways. Currently, he is the president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

“You reach a point in your life when you think you need to try and contribute, not just monetarily, but by giving of your time and experience. This country is run by people who show up. So, I thought it was time I show up,” he says.

Eich also gives back by donating to the Send a Cow to College Campaign. Proceeds from this campaign go to fund the new South Dakota State University Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility.

Cody Wright, a professor in the Department of Animal Science at SDSU explained that the Send a Cow to College campaign was designed so cattle producers can make a tax free donation to the future of cattle research and development within the state.

“Cull cows represent about 15 percent of the income in a cow-calf operation. Although their contributions to the sustainability of the operation cease when they are marketed, producers now have a way of continuing the contributions of these animals through this campaign,” Wright says. “Supporters of the cattle industry are being asked to play a role by donating dollars or the proceeds from a cull cow or group of cull cows to the SDSU Foundation to make the SDSU Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility a reality.”

Funds generated through this campaign will be utilized to construct a new state-of-the-art Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility at SDSU. The facility will cost approximately $4.1 million. A little more than half of that total has been raised at this point, some coming from the generosity of individuals, financial institutions, businesses and organizations that have already made substantial contributions to the facility. However, the funding effort is far from complete.

Building for the future

The current SDSU Cow-Calf Unit was constructed in the 1950s and a little over a year ago, about half of it was destroyed by fire. Enrollment of students pursuing degrees in animal science has doubled in the past few years — and continues to increase.

“I’m contributing because I’m a firm believer in advancing the cattle business in our state,” Eich says.

By participating in the Send a Cow to College campaign, South Dakotans who support agriculture can assist SDSU in providing animal science students with the facilities that will prepare them to be competitive in the ever evolving cattle industry.

South Dakota sale barn owners understand the program and are willing to provide the opportunity for cattle producers to participate in the Send a Cow to College campaign.

“The process is simple,” says Dave Barz, a large animal veterinarian with Northwest Veterinary & Supply in Parkston, S.D., who is active in fundraising for the new center. “Cattlemen willing to support this cause should complete a Deed of Gift form that is available at their sale barn of choice. This transfers ownership of the cow or cows to the SDSU Foundation and relieves cattlemen of any tax consequences for the value of the animals donated to the campaign. That’s all there is to it.”

Barz adds that if cattle producers prefer, they can donate calves instead of cows. For those not involved in the cattle business, but would like to support the construction of this center, monetary donations or tax free gifts of grain are also accepted.

To learn more about Eich and other cattle producers who are contributing to the Send a Cow to College Campaign, visit www.iGrow.org.

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