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A Day At Dakotafest

big_logo.gif It's a big week in my hometown of Mitchell, S.D. It's Dakotafest, an annual outdoor farm show that takes place on the Schlaffman Farm outside of town. The show includes more than 500 companies on over 45 acres of land and features field demonstrations, livestock handling and horse training events, educational seminars, entertainment and a place for enthusiastic agriculturalists to meet. Dakotafest runs Tuesday-Thursday, and I'm trying to take in the event highlights. Today, I will be listening in on an agriculture issues forum with Senator John Thune and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin both participating on the panel. I'm looking forward to the upcoming debate. Yesterday, I listened in on an incredibly informative presentation given by Financial Consultant Todd Muehler from First National Bank South Dakota. For any rancher planning to pass down the family cattle operation, he covered some good points to consider.

img_2665.JPG Muehler's presentation was titled, "Wealth Management, Preservation and Transfer Techniques." It was a full house as he described the importance of estate planning to producers. Muehler told the audience that there are certain problems which, if not planned for, create a burden on those left behind, and proper estate planning may eliminate or reduce these problems. High estate settlement costs, probate fees, death taxes and low cash flow for those left behind are all heavy financial burdens that go with poor succession planning. In addition, estate assets may be subject to probate delays and expense, as well as additional death taxes may be paid because there was no pre-death planning.

Convinced of the importance of proper estate planning yet? I'm a firm believer after this presentation. While he detailed key estate planning considerations for the crowd, I couldn't possibly share all of these considerations in a small blog spot. I encourage all of you in the cattle business to talk with your bank and legal counsel to get started, if you haven't already. Also, check out the great resources BEEF has online to specifically help cattle producers. After all, at BEEF, we are here to help you.

Well, I'm off to the show! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the grand announcement of the BEEF Daily Summer Photography Contest. If you haven't entered yet, you have until noon today to get your cattle photos in. Simply send a photo, description and your mailing address to Good luck to all participants!

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: Every farmer and rancher faces these inevitable decisions, yet an Iowa study found that two-thirds of farmers over age 65 had done little or no planning for retirement.