Farm and Ranch event excites next generation in S.D.
BROOKINGS, S.D. -- On Nov. 16, South Dakota State University hosted the fifth annual Beginning Farmer and Rancher Symposium. John Baker, attorney at law with the Iowa Concern Hotline and chair of the International Farm Transition Network was the ...
BROOKINGS, S.D. - On Nov. 16, South Dakota State University hosted the fifth annual Beginning Farmer and Rancher Symposium.
John Baker, attorney at law with the Iowa Concern Hotline and chair of the International Farm Transition Network was the featured speaker. He has more than 30 years of experience working with multi-generation farm families.
"Farms are unique family businesses, and unfortunately too often expectations are created and assumptions are made, but remain unspoken," he said.
Students from South Dakota State University, Lake Area Technical Institute, Mitchell Technical Institute, event sponsors and members of the surrounding community attended the event. Of the attendees, 47 percent had plans to farm with family and 5 percent had plans to farm with nonfamily.
Baker said most family farms were run as a family system over a business system, and many lacked planning, with reasons ranging from being too complicated, a dislike of planning and the reality of facing one's own mortality.
"There are three planning skills you need to be successful. The first one is communication. The second one is communication. The third one is communication," Baker said.
Baker also focused on the need for compensation to equal contribution.
"Blood may be thicker than water, but not thicker than money."
Baker outlined four transfer stages a family farm should go through in a transition; testing, commitment, establishment and withdrawal.
The event also featured a finance panel and a voices of experience panel.
The finance panel featured two agricultural bankers with ties to farming who discussed diversification, lending programs, decision making, creating a network, financial ratios and course recommendations for students.
The voices of experience panel was made up of Rick Moe and Miles Mendel, two South Dakota producers who have faced challenges similar to those entering the industry today.
Moe and Mendel covered a wide variety of questions, mostly focused on transitioning the farm and succession planning.
Mendel is currently involved in succession planning himself, as he prepares for his son and nephew to join the farm. According to Mendel, the most important thing for the next generation is to come back to the farm with an asset, and not just a warm body.
Moe had similar advice. When it comes to succession planning, "fair isn't always equal, equal isn't always fair," he said.
Moe and Mendel both recommend students become lifelong learners and suggested using SDSU Extension, farm publications, reliable internet sources, loan officers, accountants, bankers and others without an emotional connection.
The symposium was free to attend and was hosted by the SDSU Extension, organized by Heather Gessner, livestock farm management field specialist of the Sioux Falls Regional Center.