Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium provides vital information | TheFencePost.com

Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium provides vital information

Robyn Scherer, M. Agr.
Staff Reporter

Panel discussion members Sam Hales, Ann Wittmann, Dennis Sun and Esther Clark talk to the participants about current issues in the beef industry.

For many women in agriculture, getting off the farm can be a challenging task. However, for those women that were able to do so, the 18th annual Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium provided great information to take back to the ranch.

Nearly 75 women attended the event between participants, the speakers and the trade show vendors. The keynote speaker for the event was Amanda Radke, BEEF Daily editor and South Dakota Rancher.

Radke spoke to the women in the morning about “Taking it to the streets.” In her presentation, she reminded the audience about the three main priorities they have as producers. “Our three main priorities are animal care, environmental stewardship, and producing safe and wholesome food,” said Radke.

She continued, “We need to remind consumers that we do care for our animals, we do care for the environment, we do produce a safe, wholesome product and we do so with honesty, integrity and strong personal values.”

After Radke’s first presentation, participants could chose between two different sessions. The first session was hosted by Tassma Powers, estate planning attorney with the Legacy Planning Group of Schwartz, Bon, Walker and Studer, LLC, and was entitled “Protecting Your Legacy with Estate Planning.”

Powers told the women that estate planning is a lifetime process, and that most Americans (80 percent) do not have a plan. She also talked a lot about the differences between wills and trusts.

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“A will is not a living document. A will only is not sufficient for estate planning,” said Powers. “A trust is a legal document that is a special kind of contract, designed to control property management and distribution.”

Her biggest point that she made was that any better is better than nothing. “Do something. Your imperfect plan is better than the government’s plan,” she said.

The other session was presented by Nancy Brown, FNP-BC. She talked about skin cancer, and the causes, cures and prevention of it.

The main afternoon session was again presented by Radke. Her afternoon session titled, “Ranching Online,” talked about the importance of social media, being positive, and telling “your story.”

Radke said, “American agriculture is the backbone of the U.S. economy. It is important to build trust through relationships.”

The participants then broke into two sessions again. The first session was a panel discussion that included Sam Hales from J Lazy Y L Performances Horses who represented the Wyoming Horse Council, Ann Wittman, Executive Director for the Wyoming Beef Council, Dennis Sun, Region III Vice President for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and Publisher for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, and Ester Clark, Financial Officer for Farm Credit Services of America.

Hales talked about the funding that is needed for equine events and facilities. Wittman talked about the export meat market, and how it is keeping the demand for meat high. “It is safeguarding the industry,” she said.

Sun spoke to the group about the high prices for cattle and lambs, and how this has affected ranchers the past year. He also gave this advice, “Get involved. There is a place for each of you. Enjoy the good times.”

Clark talked about the drought, and the decline in the beef herd. She said, “It is estimated that the cowherd will be down 7 percent, or about 2 million head, which is a lot.”

However, she did talk about the strong demand for beef, and the high prices for animals. “The beef industry has a lot of positive things going on right now,” she said.

The other session that was offered was presented by Cole Ehmke, extension specialist with the UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. His session, titled “Yours, Mine and Heirs: Passing on Personal Property” talked about the challenges and ways to pass on assets.

After the afternoon sessions, participants had the opportunity to shop from nine different vendors, who showcased handmade products from jewelry to rope art, and socks to books.

The symposium was sponsored by over 30 sponsors, which allowed the women who attended the event to do so at a nominal cost.

Angela Grant, a board member of the Wyoming Women in Ag, thought the symposium was a great success. “I think it went really well. The speakers were great, and the trade show vendors were really good,” Grant said.

She thought Radke’s talk was good for the women to hear. “I think they came away with a very positive outlook on what they can do to promote the ag industry in general and some different techniques to do that,” she said.

The purpose of the Women Women in Ag is: To provide educational workshops and symposia that allow women to keep informed about new issues in agriculture, improve confidence in themselves, and gain the tools and information needed to make management decisions while networking with their friends, neighbors and new acquaintances.

The group has no memberships dues, and allows producers to connect with each other and take new information back to the ranch.

“I think a lot of women, they don’t go to these events very often, and they might lose sight of what’s going on. They get into the daily chores and what’s happening at the ranch. By coming to events like this, they might find out that other places are having some of the same issues. They can do a lot of networking and reconnecting with old friends,” Grant said.