Dakotafest focusing on future of agriculture and farm families

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 5:27 PM CDT
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MITCHELL, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Dakotafest in Mitchell is all about keeping up with the latest trends and changes in agriculture. From the latest technology and product, to everything in between. That also includes changes at farms and ranches themselves when it comes time to hand them down to the next generation.

While 2023′s edition of Dakotafest is coming to close, that doesn’t mean the organization behind it isn’t already talking about who and what they want to see at the exhibit grounds next year.

“We’ve already started those conversations. We survey our attendees, we survey our exhibitors, and we look forward to understanding what is going well and what we can bring out here,” Dakotafest Marketing Manager Niki Jones said.

That planning for the future is a key talking point for Thursday’s events, especially when it comes to family farms planning for the future in transitioning to the next generation.

Thursday’s presentation from Erin Swalwell, an attorney with Farm Bureau Financial Services, highlights a growing concern in the industry that lack of planning from families leaves many questions left unanswered when parents pass away or retire.

“A lot of people, I think they get paralyzed by wanting to have their perfect plan. Sometimes we get lost and we don’t make progress at that point. I work with so many farm families that want to make sure their family stays a family,” Swalwell said.

Statistics from the Farm Journal Legacy Project estimates that the odds of a family farm passing to the second generation is around 30 percent, about 10 percent for the third generation, and less than four percent for the fourth generation.

But starting that process to set a plan in place now can greatly increase those odds.

“That’s why we’re here at Farm Bureau Financial Services, is to try and help people with that and help them get started. Because a lot of people think that its an overwhelming process, or could be an overwhelming process. We want to take some of that away,” Swalwell said. “And that’s really important to all of the families that I work with in passing that farm business on to the next generation that we’ve worked so hard for.”

Swalwell said even starting those tough conversations is better than not having them at all, and the time to do them is right now rather than later.