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South Dakota Cattle Farmer

Dave Poppens

“No matter what the weather is, rain or shine, we have to be out there seven days a week, twice a day, feeding these animals to make sure they get the balanced nutritious ration that we give them every day.”

Dave Poppens
Cattle Farmer

Name: Dave Poppens
Location: Lennox, South Dakota
Years farming: 34 years. I am third generation. My nephew and son are the fourth generation.
My family: My wife Charis and I have two kids, Brian and Brenda, as well as grandkids Tripten and Arianna. We farm with my brother Ron, who is married to Cheryl, and they have a son, Eric, who works with us here on the farm. He’s married to Ginger, and they have two kids, Hunter and Faith. My parents Robert and Lydia are also involved.
How I came to be a farmer: I am a third generation farmer. My grandfather started farming in the 1920s. My dad then started in the 1940s. In 1976, my dad and his brothers and I became incorporated under the farm name OK Corral. In 2008, my nephew Eric joined the corporation.
The best thing about being a farmer: Farming is a good way of life. I have enjoyed being able to raise a family on the farm as I was raised. Although farming is a business and needs to be treated as such, it gives me the flexibility to be able to spend time with the kids and attend their school activities.
My personal philosophy on farming: Even though we are incorporated, we are a family farm and we want the ability to pass the land on down to future generations. The world’s population is growing, while the number of farmers is declining. We have to be able to increase how much we grow on less land to feed more people. By adopting new technology, such as biotech crops, we are still able to take care of the environment and remain sustainable. And although the “green” movement seems to be a new fad to the general public, farmers were green before green was cool and it is not just another fad to us.

Beef Production in South Dakota and the United States
  • There are more than 15,000 cattle producers in South Dakota.
  • South Dakota sends 400,000 cattle to market every year.
  • Only five other U.S. states produce more cattle and calves annually than South Dakota.
  • There are approximately five beef cattle in South Dakota for every state resident.
  • In 2008, per capita consumption of beef in the U.S. was almost 60 pounds!
  • In 2007, 97% of all U.S. beef cattle farms and ranches were classified as family farms.
  • Through science-based improvements in farming and ranching, beef production per cow increased from about 400 pounds in the 1960s to 640 pounds in 2008.
  • A single U.S. farmer today feeds around 144 people compared to only 26 people in 1960.
  • Studies suggest the protein in beef may help prevent many chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • There are 29 cuts of lean beef with a total fat content that falls between a skinless chicken breast and skinless chicken thigh when comparing cooked 3-ounce servings.

For more information about cattle farming in South Dakota, please visit

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