Proposed by: Adele Harty

Presenters: Harty, A. , Cow-CalfField Specialist, SDSU Extension, Rapid City, SD 57702
Salverson, R., Cow-Calf Field Specialist, SDSU Extension, Lemmon, SD 57638

SDSU Extension and South Dakota Farm Bureau are partnering to provide a multi-year educational program to assist beginning beef cow-calf ranchers in South Dakota become economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable producers. The goal is to present a curriculum that will provide them the tools to make wise management decisions to contribute to ongoing agricultural production, land stewardship, and rural community viability. The learning objectives are to provide (1) evaluation of alternative production systems, (2) an integrated understanding of the entire US beef cattle industry, and (3) development of individual cattle enterprise plans. The first core group is 21 beginning beef cattle operations (33 individuals, with several couples), and 9 beginning beef cattle operations (16 individuals) in the second core group. The curriculum is comprised of six major kinds of activities (1) instructional workshops, (2) case studies of established successful producers using a variety of production systems and management practices, (3) evaluation of post-weaning performance of participants calves, (4) mentoring from established beef ranchers and other industry professionals, (5) web-based interaction, and (6) travel study trips to learn about other segments of the beef cattle industry. Outcomes are evaluated using surveys of the participants beginning at 12 months into the program and thereafter at 6-month intervals. Responses indicate that meaningful outcomes have occurred. For example, when asked the impact of the program on their operation, on producer indicated: I just had to tell you guys that our net worth has increased by $37,000. If we can continue to be diligent we can either keep 30+ bred heifers or operation on our own money by the end of the year. Other participants reported comparable impacts. In conclusion the beefSD program has been successful at fostering positive outcomes for the beginning producer participants.

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