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South Dakota Industrial Dairies Financed Through Bizarre Immigration Arrangement

As was first reported in the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota has witnessed a recent spate of construction of industrial dairies that are financed through a truly bizarre type of capital formation. In the case of Drumgoon Dairy near Lake Norden, South Dakota, which was featured in the Argus Leader report, Rodney Elliot of Northern Ireland was able to construct a 1,700 cow dairy by accessing $2 million from four South Korean investors.

In exchange for their $500,000 investment, each of the South Korean investors gains the right to permanent residency in the United States for themselves and their families. South Dakota has led the pack in taking advantage of the revised U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program, which provides 10,000 visas annually for foreign investors, with 5,000 reserved for those who invest at least $500,000 in rural areas to create at least five jobs.

Our research has found nine such mega-dairy projects in planning, construction, or operational stages in South Dakota. Most appear to be of similar project size, scope, and cost to Drumgoon Dairy (1,700 cows and $6.8 million estimated project cost), but three South Dakota projects with price tags in excess of $35 million are “in progress,” and several even larger projects are said to be “under development.”