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Published December 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

Ag. forum to be held in Jan.

No-till cropping systems, the future and economy of agriculture and how to farm with family are a few of the topics that will be discussed at the 14th Annual Diversity, Direction and Dollars Agricultural Forum to be held Jan. 5 in Dickinson.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

No-till cropping systems, the future and economy of agriculture and how to farm with family are a few of the topics that will be discussed at the 14th Annual Diversity, Direction and Dollars Agricultural Forum to be held Jan. 5 in Dickinson.

Dwayne Beck, manger of South Dakota State University’s Dakota Lakes Research Farm, said he’ll be discussing the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2008 list of factors that were primary constraints to the adoption of conservation agriculture.

“They’ve (U.N.) come up with a list of things that’s inhibiting people in developing countries from using conservation-type techniques,” Beck said. “There’s a whole list of them, from government to land ownership.”

Beck said he has taken that same list and has attempted to “bring it to home”.

“A lot of the same things apply in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa,” Beck said. “One of the reasons is wet soil, one of the reasons is fertilizer costs and application and things, and those are the same issues people have here when they try to no-till.”

Beck said the crop insurance is also a big issue.

“They don’t have any there but our crop insurance regulations often discriminate against guys doing diverse crop rotations versus growing things like wheat and corn and beans,” Beck said. “If you’re going to do no-till right you should do more diverse rotations but the crop insurance tends to focus on the major crops.”

Kurt Froelich, an extension agent with the North Dakota State University Extension Service/Stark-Billings County, and an organizer of the event said usually they have good turn out for the event.

“Typically (we have) 150, 175 on average. They’ve had up to 250,” Froelich said. “It’s been a good one.”

Jolene Brown a farmer from West Branch, Iowa, will be discussing how to farm with family.

She says that farming with family is a challenge because combining habits, expectations, personalities and differing goals, standards and generations creates a collision course.

“There is nothing that brings more joy or more pain than families in a business,” Brown said. “I have been at a lot of kitchen tables, not just in our country but beyond, and we do some pretty stupid things when we combine egos and emotions, different generations and different goals, when we have different work ethic and sometimes we have to step back and understand that this is a business.”

To reach an outcome of productivity, profitability and collaboration, families must have tools in place, documents in writing and a commitment to transition the management, leadership and ownership of a business, she said.

“My whole purpose of me being there is to help them become a business-first family, and not a family- first business,” Brown said. “What I find, is when we are a family-first business, which is the majority of them, we tend to make decisions on what feels good, or what do we want to do.

“When you’re a business-first family, you tend to treat things more as a business and then you get more profitable, more productive and then get to be a happy family.”

The forum will be held at the Days Inn — Grand Dakota Lodge and Convention Center, located at 532 15th St. W. in Dickinson.

The cost to attend both events is $15, which includes lunch.

For more information, contact the Stark-Billings County Extension Service office at 701-456-7665 Western Soil Conservation District at 701- 225-3811, ext. 3.

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