Will you look back and wonder what you did last summer?

Farm Forum

With the farm families I work with in the FBM program, I often preach about when or if the daily farming duties subside a bit — which seems to be July/August for many — to get things prepared for harvest and/or winter livestock care to prevent snags at the crucial times that lie ahead in their operations. In the task management sector of the business, that is anything from fence repairs, reconditioning a combine head, or purchasing and installing needed equipment before something becomes urgent. This summer it looks as though some projects that can only be done when it is dry are beckoning. Today though I’d like to address big picture issues that get pushed off to “when it slows down” but often for multiple years.

• Business and estate planning: Do you and your spouse have a will? Do you have an estate plan? Do you have provisions for variables that can occur? If you do have the aforementioned in place, how many times have you upgraded combines or tractors since you upgraded your estate plan? This isn’t meant as a dollar measurement, but rather a time or change in situation assessment. Was the land worth $500 or $5,000 when your estate plan was created? Were the kids in diapers & grade school, but now are grown and have children of their own? Did you have a 7720 and now have a S670? The point is things may likely have evolved that were unforeseen when your existing plan was prepared. People’s thoughts and perspectives can and will change. Updated written plans of intentions are the only way for heirs to really know what your intentions are. How are those organized family and workforce business meetings going? August may be an excellent time to implement such. This is not to be during a lull in the picnic or when it rains, but with a scheduled time and agenda. Consider alternating locations and roles as moderator for such meetings.

• Property insurance review: The news and photos of storms that can affect our region brings this to mind. Insurance updates aren’t always pleasant but along with many other policies we review annually, our property coverage needs to be evaluated as well. Obviously machinery purchases/trades need to be reviewed but an often overlooked item may be the value of equipment and tools your farm is accumulating in the shop. For example, is the value of your new air compressor included in your blanket or is it reflecting the $75 one from a farm sale years ago? Many valuable monitors, pumps, parts are likely stored in your shop. Consider the term replacement cost. You can’t go out and buy a “good used” of everything. Ask your agent “what if this happened today and I had to go buy all of this?” Be sure you’re comfortable with the answer.

• Personal – physical and mental health: We will call either an agronomy specialist, mechanic, or veterinarian weekly for advice for specific concerns on our crops, machinery and livestock. Why not for our personal peak performance? When have you last had a routine physical exam? Preventative maintenance and analysis applies here, too. Take care of yourself and insist your loved ones do as well. If you are utilizing some of the latest technology in production, I recommend you do the same with health screenings. In the last 5 years think of how many times your tractors, combines or cows & bulls have been taken to a specialist because they needed more than a simple procedure or assessment that you could accomplish at home. I know health care cost are expensive, but if that machine required an overhaul somehow you accept that necessary cost and move on. Finally, August hopefully can allow for some time away from the hourly market texts, weather forecasts, kids’ organized activities. When I say time away, I mean away from conversations that include too much or too little moisture, missing the high in the market, livestock production concerns, etc. It appears as though making hay has come to a halt. If there is room in your fuel budget because of a mild winter, put a few tanks of gas in your automobile and see some other territory and ways of life. You often will arrive back with a renewed bounce in your step of the many things to appreciate at home. A lot of memories and character building can be made while watching a campfire, overlooking the mountains, or watching a stream of water. Please use only the camera feature of your cell phones!

Dakotafest and the South Dakota State Fair are coming right up. I will be at each. For more information about our farm/ranch management program, contact our department at 605-995-7191, email, or website or cell 605-770-0758.