Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives hosted a Livestock Development Summit on November 15, 2018, at the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Performing Arts Center in Brookings, S.D. Nearly 300 producers, community leaders, representatives from agriculture organizations and others attended the event.
The purpose of the summit was to address key issues related to livestock development, discuss the most effective and responsible ways to move forward and connect farmers with leaders and businesses in the industry. It also presented attendees with a better understanding of the challenges, opportunities and growth potential offered by livestock development across South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota.
“We want to open the door for South Dakota and Minnesota livestock producers to seriously consider the opportunity to expand their operation. Often, a livestock producer will mull around the idea to expand for quite a while before taking action on it. We wanted the Livestock Development Summit to be a catalyst for taking the first steps toward that expansion,” said Mike Jaspers, business development director, East River Electric Power Cooperative. East River Electric is the wholesale power provider for our region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and SDSU President Barry Dunn served as featured speakers at the free event. An economic impact panel discussed the potential economic impact of livestock development on local communities, including ancillary businesses, other farmers, utilities, workforce, schools and infrastructure. The panel’s participants also provided economic data related to the production and processing of agricultural products to support their positions.
A next generation farmer and agribusiness panel including Millennial farmers discussed opportunities to come back to the farm and how young entrepreneurs face unique challenges as they try to meet capital and site requirements. Panel participants also shared their personal experiences and vision for the next generation of farming in South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota.
A panel on siting, zoning and permitting focused on how local control is a fundamental tenet of agricultural production and processing. Navigating state and county regulations to get a site approved can be daunting for new livestock producers. The experts on this panel offered a realistic view of what it takes to get a new livestock operation permitted.
Financial capital is a major sticking point for many livestock operations looking to expand. With that in mind, a financial panel discussed how to access the right capital for a new livestock operation to help ensure long-term viability and profitability. The panel included lenders from various banking institutions in the region who have worked with livestock producers on expansions from a financial perspective.
Networking and roundtable opportunities followed the panel discussions. This portion of the event helped facilitate one-on-one and small group discussions with the panelists and other industry experts who were available to talk through specific scenarios that individual attendees may have.
Several of the region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are planning local Livestock Development Summits to have more in-depth conversations about the opportunities, challenges and growth potential offered by livestock development in their areas. If you’re interested in attending a local summit or are interested in discussing opportunities to cohost a summit, please contact your local electric cooperative.