The South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) has voted to open membership to producers of all types of agricultural specialties.

The association took the action at its first all-member meeting in January, in response to interest from entrepreneurs in areas ranging from agritourism to llama production.

"We keep hearing from people across South Dakota who are excited about an organization that will help them produce and market a whole range of non-commodity products," said Rhoda Burrows, SDSU Extension horticulturist.

"The organization is serving as a gathering place for those who want to network with other producers and work together on marketing, education, research, and legislative issues. We can accomplish a lot more as a group than we can as lone individuals."

One current SDSPA project, spearheaded by association member Pat Garrity, is to secure funding for a feasibility study for seasonal marketing of South Dakota products in several malls across the state. Other initiatives discussed at the meeting include food safety education for value-added producers, development of product logos, and links with South Dakota tourism efforts.

A newsletter is being developed to keep members informed of current issues, initiatives, and other relevant information.

For more information on SDSPA, including membership application, contact Rhoda Burrows at 605-688-4731, Rhoda_Burrows@sdstate.edu, or Box 2140A, SDSU, Brookings, SD 57007.