Increase the Resilience of Your Ranching Operation
Column by Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist and Newell sheep and cattle producer
Each year the profitability of the farm or ranch is challenged by conditions that negatively impact revenue and increase expenses.
Currently, we continue to experience drought conditions across western South Dakota. Depending on which side of the fence you stand on, some commodity prices are below the cost of production.
Using an analogy from rangeland management, producers who build resilience into their agricultural operation are positioned to lessen the risk that environment, climate, markets and finances place on profitability.
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
The term, resilience, fits well to when assessing the current state of a ranching operation, as well as a guide for future management decisions.
As we end the 2017 production year and plan for 2018, there are a number of obstacles likely to affect a ranches’ profitability.
The largest obstacle to test the resilience of an operation is the current condition of its land resource due to the lack of rainfall.
Producers need to critically assess their current drought management plan. Make sure all trigger dates are in place and that the action plans connected to those dates are realistic and appropriate.
If you don’t have a drought management plan, GET ONE! How? There are a number of local resources that will provide real life, up-to-date examples and templates of drought plans suited to this region.
SDSU Extension is committed to helping producers mitigate the impact of the drought conditions while helping to build resilience in the operation.
Contact any one of our team members today. A complete listing can be found at www.iGrow.org.
As you develop your drought management plan, remember to solicit input from family and financial stakeholders.
Once a draft is completed provide a copy and explain the action plans to all involved. When climate conditions change, modify your plan accordingly.
SDSU Extension is assisting with a number of related educational programs that can help in the decision making process which will be occurring in December 2017.
Drought Management Plan Guidance
Below are contact numbers and websites that can assist in securing and developing drought management plans.
SDSU Extension staff: For a complete listing of specialists, visit iGrow.org and click on the Field Staff icon or call the SDSU Regional Extension Center in Rapid City at (605) 394-1722.
South Dakota NRCS: Management plan link: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/sd/technical/landuse/pasture/
www.nrcs.usda.gov: This is the national website. Click on the State Office Tab. Once you are on South Dakota’s page, click on the Contact Us tab to find contact information for your local NRCS Office and Conservation District office.
South Dakota Grassland Coalition: Visit www.sdgrass.org and click on the Mentoring Network tab. There, you will find contact information of ranchers with drought plans and years of ranch management experience. These folks can provide support and clarity to your decision making process.
National Drought Mitigation Center: http://drought.unl.edu/ – decision making information, drought management tools and examples of drought plans are available.
2017 South Dakota Grassland Coalition Road Show: SDSU Extension and other partnering organizations are hosting the 2017 Road Show December 11 – 15 coming to Hot Springs, Chamberlain, Crooks, Watertown and Aberdeen. Visit www.sdgrass.org and click on the events tab to learn more.
Intro to Ranching for Profit and New Ways to Think About Your Business: Featuring Dave Pratt, this event is sponsored by the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.
The event will be held in Belle Fourche at the Branding Iron Steakhouse (South Hwy 85 Belle Fourche) December 14-15, 2017. The event begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m.