Young Producers Discuss Balance Sheets & What Makes Strong Community Leaders During 2019 Event

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Farm and ranch couples from across South Dakota gathered in Deadwood for Farmers Union Young Producers Event.

 "We invest in young producer events because the next generation needs all the resources and information they can get. Farming and ranching is a tough and challenging business," explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. "And, as South Dakota's No. 1 economic driver - the success of our state depends on these family farmers and ranchers."

 The weekend event was beneficial, says Matt and Stephanie Cavenee. The Miller farmers say they will implement the information they received on farm finances and transition planning.

 "Farmers Union had a good diversity of speakers providing us with expert views on a number of different topics," Stephanie says.

 Matt adds, "My dad passed away just a year and a half ago and I inherited the land, so I understand the value of estate planning."

 Blaine Carey, the speaker who discussed estate planning and balance sheets, explains that understanding cost of production is part of planning for life's "what ifs."

 "Hope is not a marketing plan," says Carey, who is an instructor with the South Dakota Center for Farm and Ranch Management at Mitchell Technical Institute.

Carey explains that understanding cost of operation is a key component to recovering a profit. "Changes in today's agriculture industry are the biggest reason for knowing your costs. Things are a lot tighter. The margins are not there."

Good to know you're not alone

Event speakers and their focuses included: Malcom Chapman, community leadership; Doug Sombke, SDFU President; Blaine Carey, farm finances; Matt Odden, soil health; Dave Koupel, direct marketing; Jess Peterson, truth in labeling; and Jody Heemstra, communicating with the media and how to tell your story.

 In addition to learning from experts, attendees say the ability to network with other producers during the current tight economic situation was helpful.

 "By talking with the other producers, it was beneficial to see that everyone is in the same boat with the depressed commodity prices - we are all on the same page. We need to cut expenses to get through," explains Brian Cain, a crop and cattle producer, who attended the Young Producers Event with his wife, Lindsey. "After talking to other producers, I felt confident that I'm not failing as a manager."

 This was the Cains and Cavenees first experience with SDFU. "The speakers did a good job making us think. I especially appreciated what the speaker who focused on leadership had to say about checking yourself and your role in an organization," Stephanie Cavenee says.

 Lindsey Cain adds, "I got a lot out of the leadership discussion that I can use in my job." Lindsey works for Agtegra Cooperative as a trainer.

 Communities need leaders

The speaker Lindsey references is Malcom Chapman, a speaker and former city councilman. Chapman focused his presentation on how attendees could be effective leaders in their communities.

 "Your involvement or engagement or service to community is the rent you pay to live in the community," Chapman says.

 Chapman was quick to point out that all citizens take on a leadership role, whether it is large - like serving on city council, or small.

 "Not everyone has to take the same size bite of the apple."

 Below, Chapman outlines the five powers of leadership and gives a brief explanation of each:

Imagination: Leaders create an environment where ideas can happen. They encourage people to think broadly and deeply and bigger than yesterday.

Voice: As a leader, I am going to give permission, or allow every voice to participate.

Commitment: Your thoughts and ideas are needed. And, the community benefits from your voice. When you don't show up, it's a lost opportunity to have your voice heard.

Understanding and acceptance of change transition: I'm only as smart as I am. Problems communities deal with today are much bigger than my capacity to solve them alone.

 To learn more about future Young Producer Events and other professional development opportunities SDFU offers, contact Rocky Forman, SDFU Member Services Coordinator, 605-350-3421.

SDFU Hosted Young Producers Event in Deadwood. Back Row: Pat Moen, Stratford; Ben Miner, Cavour; Jeff Kippley, Aberdeen; Brian Cain, Miller; Rocky Forman, Huron; Hank Wonnenberg, Dallas; Matt Cavenne, Miller; Brandon Komes, Sturgis; and Peter Sobotka, Whitewood. Front Row:
Suzanne Moen, Stratford; Rachel Kippley, Aberdeen; Shawn Miner, Cavour; Lindsey Cain, Miller; Mandi Forman, Huron; Mellissa Wonnenberg, Dallas; Stephanie Cavenne, Miller; Paige Komes, Sturgis; and Maria Sobotka, Whitewood.


Malcolm Chapman, a speaker and former city councilman, was among the speakers invited by South Dakota Farmers Union to present during the organizations' January Young Producers Event hosted in Deadwood for farm and ranch couples.

Jody Heemstra (left) conducts a practice interview with Stephanie Cavenne, one of several South Dakota agriculture producers to attend S.D. Farmers Union Young Producers event held this month in Deadwood.


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