HURON, S.D. – When you raise cattle, it’s tough to get a weekend away. But Roscoe farmer Lane Forkel and his wife, Lindsey, said the South Dakota Farmers Union Young Producers Event was worth it.
“There’s so many things that you think you know, but nothing beats bouncing ideas off other farm families to hear what has worked for them,” explains Lindsey, who works off the farm as a Loan Specialist for BankNorth in Warner.
Lane agrees, adding that the speakers covered timely topics.
“All the presenters were very helpful,” Lane says. “In fact, I just called the soil health presenter, Austin Carlson, today to bounce a few more ideas off of him.”
Innerseeding cover crops into corn and soybean acres was among the topics covered during the Soil Health Coalition technician’s talk. Lane is hoping to try innerseeding forage cover crops.
“If I could get another week or two of grazing from cover crops and save my pastures – or save on some hay in the winter, that would be helpful,” Lane says. “I have been thinking about it for a long time, but I just haven’t had time to do more research, so Austin’s talk helped a lot.”
Providing family farmers and ranchers with relevant information and resources is a purpose of the two-day Young Producers Event, explains Karla Hofhenke, of the event that is free to South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) members and $50 to non-members.
“Educating family farmers and ranchers is one of several ways Farmers Union supports our state’s agriculture producers,” says Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. “Ag is a challenging business, so the more resources and information producers can have, hopefully the better able they are to make their farm or ranch sustainable.”
Along with Carlson’s presentation on soil health, the event featured experts on commodity marketing with Janelle Guericke; estate planning/farm transitioning with Jayna Voss; transitioning from weaning to background or finishing with Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate; and policy with Mike Stranz, National Farmers Union.
“This event was a good chance to pick up ideas to help out our operation and gave me a good chance to visit with other young producers,” says Brett Stevens, a Miller rancher who raises Gelbvieh/Balancer cattle.
Stevens found value in the commodity marketing presentation given by Guericke.
“The speaker explained how grain basis, calls and puts all worked. As a rancher or farmer, marketing knowledge is so important to protecting our bottom line,” Stevens explains.
Stevens and his wife, Roxanne, raise cattle. Although Roxanne wanted to attend with him, she is a second-grade teacher and needed the time to prepare for the 2021 school year. Stevens said he brought home quite a bit of information to visit with her about, including policy information Farmers Union shared with attendees. “There is so much going on right now in D.C. that impacts our farming and ranching industry. It was nice to talk with the people who are going out there to address our concerns,” Stevens says.
And like the Forkels, Stevens found value in conversations with other South Dakota producers. To learn more about how South Dakota Farmers Union works to support family farmers and ranchers, visit www.sdfu.org.
Q&A with Transition Planning/Estate Planning Expert
Answers provided by Jayna M. Voss, Co-founder/attorney of Legacy Law Firm, PC
Q: Why is it important to discuss transition planning today?
A: Transition planning is not something you can do in one day, one week or even one year. Transition planning for farmers and ranchers is a process. With a farming or ranching operation, your estate plan, your business plan, and your retirement plan all overlap. It’s important that you address all of these specific areas so that the transition plan is coordinated. The plans that are successful are generally those that are begun long before the transition actually occurs. The biggest mistake is to do nothing which unfortunately results in most family farm operations failing to last beyond the third generation. If you fail to plan, those who intend to carry on the farm may have an uncertain future. This can also cause undue stress on the family and result in the breakdown of the operation and family relationships.
Q: Any tips that you have to help get the conversation started?
A: Communication is key to any successful transition. Sometimes families avoid the topic altogether because it is hard! Many clients like to avoid conflict and the process can seem overwhelming. It doesn’t get any easier after Mom and Dad are gone unfortunately. Thus, my advice is to start with the basics. Everyone should have at least a Will and financial and health care powers of attorney in place. Remember the transition process takes time; once the basics are covered, then move on to the most pressing goal next. You can build and revise your plan as you go.
Q: What type of expert should producers meet with first?
A: It’s important to involve a team of advisers when doing transition planning. The team usually consists of a financial adviser, banker, insurance agent, accountant and attorney. A good adviser will recognize the challenges that most family farming operations face and will normally involve other advisers to help achieve the transition goals. Common goals that most of my family farm clients share include:
• providing for a smooth and efficient transition
• avoiding taxes
• utilizing asset protection strategies
• keeping family harmony
• addressing aging/incapacity
• preserving the family’s legacy