Like most other states, South Dakota has been adding young farmers and ranchers. South Dakota State University Extension wants that to continue.

The fourth annual Beginning Farmer and Rancher Symposium, hosted by SDSU Extension, will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Volstorff Ballroom in the SDSU Student Union in Brookings. The free event drew about 350 people last year and is expected to attract at least that many again this year, says Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension livestock business management field specialist. Her duties include helping ag producers with estate and transition planning, education and assistance.

The symposium will focus on practical information “that sometimes doesn’t get the attention it should,” Gessner says. “Things like where the kid will live and how he will get paid.”

Nebraska-based Dave Specht, a certified financial planner and consultant who bills himself as “the Family Businessman,” will be the keynote speaker.

According to Specht’s website, his “consulting approach seeks to blend the financial and nonfinancial aspects surrounding family, money and business to enhance the likelihood of meaningful and effective planning.”

The symposium is geared primarily to SDSU, Lake Area Technical College and Mitchell Technical College students, but is open to others, as well.

“If you’re returning to the family farm, this is something we’d sure invite you to attend,” Gessner says.

The number of South Dakota farmers aged 25 to 34 rose from 2,113 in 2007 to 2,631, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, which provides the most timely and accurate information available.

Gessner says when she was young, “My generation wasn’t encouraged to come back to the farm. The opportunities weren’t there. But with the generation now, the one graduating from college and high school - there are opportunities.”

For more information on the symposium, visit