Who will the farm go to?

stelprdb1237261There was a fair bit of windshield time for me this June as I looped through the state. I attended Faulkton’s Women’s Ag Day, the SD Governor’s Ag Summit and planning sessions with the South Dakota Women in Ag group in which I am a part of. Intermingled with those events, there has been windshield time checking cattle and hauling hay too. While driving I have been pondering a few of the topics of concern that came up this June – millennials and transitioning the farm to the next generation. Millennials. Groan. Haven’t we heard enough on this age group? My age is right on the cusp of being tagged into this generation, but escaped by a few months to place me into the GenX category. This month I have heard people of the older generations say millennials “don’t care, don’t want to work, just want to play and have no values”. Ouch. My mother has always believed in the saying, There is nothing new under the sun. I tend to agree and I think the above negative statements were probably said about the Baby Boomers and GenXers too. I do know a few under 35 individuals who are working darn hard to make their place in agriculture. They are driven and are knowledge-seeking people. They certainly don’t come off as people that don’t care, and have no work ethic or values. So can we lay off the millennials for a bit? Let’s let them define who they are before we stick a label on them. This brings me to the second topic, which is transitioning land to the next generation. Holy smokes people. If there is a topic that scares me it’s this one. Forget the tangled, messy business of successfully handing land down to a family heir. Instead, let’s focus on what happens to the land of those who are retiring and don’t have a family member interested in taking over. Now that’s scary. There is a lot of land in the next 10 years that will open up to different ownership. How do we get the Millennial and the GenX generations fiscally prepared so they become an option for these retiring farmers? How do we keep viable agricultural lands from being bought up for hunting rights or from interest groups? Some states have a FarmLink program that helps them connect aging farmers with beginning farmers. That is great and more states need to have something of the like. If you don’t have a program, you might have to volunteer to mentor and hand pick your farm’s heir. There is also the concern of capital and having enough equipment or cattle to succeed. Partnering for a time together might ease that burden on the younger generation and make a brighter retirement for the older generation. I guess my point of this column is that there are hard working, enthusiastic generations of agriculturalists that are willing to be America’s farmers and ranchers. We need to remember that and figure out how to give them a chance.

©Codi Vallery-Mills

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It’s bull sale season!

Bulls at bear butteIt’s bull sale season in the region. Like you, we at The Cattle Business Weekly enter into this time of year with excitement and a little trepidation. A bull sale season on the farm means tasks like selecting bulls, booking advertisements, clipping bulls, lining up sale day help, setting up pens, and much more. Those duties are usually met with extra hours, extra phone calls, extra manpower and extra coffee. The same can be said for staff of CBW. We spend a little “extra” this time of year as well. Our ringmen are gearing up to take in a few extra hours of windshield time as they travel to sales the next four months. I know they love this time of year for the cattle and people they get to see, but they are also thankful to pull into their homeplaces and give the wheels a rest for awhile come May. CBW office staff has been using up extra creative juices in the designing of sale catalogs and flyers and churning out newspaper sections right and left. I have been busy burning up any extra battery my computer has as I coordinate the weekly newspaper content and sale reports that the ringmen submit. This is my ninth bull sale season with CBW. Continue reading

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Cattle Cycle: Plan ahead

What goes up must come down . . . A lot of experts are talking that the cattle cycle has hit its price peak and the dollar value we see for calves this fall will lower. Now before everyone hits the alarm bell let’s keep in mind that this decline is naturaBUDGETl and should be expected – it’s called a cattle cycle for a reason. And it isn’t going to bring forth bottom of the barrel prices but rather prices lower than what we have been dealt the last two years. We all can agree the last two years have been downright outstanding in our part of the world. Prices going forward should continue to be good, just not as great as they have been. Some people point to our rapid herd expansion as the culprit of lower prices. Herd rebuilding has been significant but it’s certainly not complete. The U.S. cattle herd is at a 63-year low to due the West Coast, Idaho and parts of Montana being devastated by drought and fires the past two summers. Cattle producers have had to sell off cattle and that is leaving room for growth in other parts of the country – especially those regions that have received adequate moisture to produce feedstuffs. Domestic and international demand for beef as always, is needed yet. The economy is the United States is recovering and with it so are pocketbooks. Hopefully beef will be the protein of choice for those with a few extra dollars to spend. Your own personal promotion of beef or support of your State Beef Industry Council can help make the difference. Back to talk of cattle numbers . . . It will not surprise me to see producers in the Great Plains continue to hold back significant numbers of replacement heifers this fall. Some may or may not shed their older cows depending on how their own herd rebuilding has progressed the last few years. Continue reading

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Isn’t that odd?

imagesDo you read the “Best Days To…” in the Farmers Almanac? It is the part of the Almanac where they tell you what day is best to do certain things. It is based on the moon’s phases. Like Feb. 10-11 were good days for livestock breeding. Feb. 17-18 were the best days to castrate animals. Feb. 27-28 will be the best days to graft or pollinate plants and trees. For people related items, Feb. 6-7 were the days to quit smoking; Feb. 16-17 were the best days to wrap up projects and Feb. 6 and Feb. 11 were the days to start successful diets (oops, missed that one!)

I like numbers. Well, no, let me clarify. I like numbers that have meaning. Numbers that need to be subtracted, multiplied, divided or raised to some power I have no appreciation for. In the bible the number seven plays a significant role. It is referenced 860 times, with the main, “And on the seventh day God rested” stealing the stage for all other sevens.

The digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes, was the inspiration for the search engine Google. It also resulted in the word Googolplex or 10^Googol, which became the namesake of Google’s offices.

The number 13 has an air of mystery and danger to it. Think Friday the 13th or 1313 Mockingbird Lane where the black cloaked Munster Family lived. American Airlines and Delta have banned flight number 191 because of the numerous airline accidents associated with that number.

Is that significant meaning or superstition, you ask? Well, if someone is superstitious about a number doesn’t that justify the number’s meaning? It does to me. I have known several cowboys who won’t think of castrating a colt until the right day in the moon phase to assure proper healing. I also know people who will add an extra thing to their to-do list so there are an even amount of things to cross off.

Odd numbers are my comfort zone though. It could be because those years have habitually been good to me. I graduated high school, college, and got married all in odd numbered years. My husband was born on the 5th day of the month. I was born on the 3rd day of the month. When our daughter was also born on an odd day I literally breathed a sigh of relief. Don’t ask me why. It just felt better knowing she was born on an odd numbered day.

Isn’t it funny what makes us tick as humans? Continue reading

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The year ahead for ag

year aheadA run-down of nationwide topics that impact the ag industry

Compiled by Codi Vallery-Mills

There is a lot to talk about when you are involved in agriculture. What are some of the topics to keep an eye on going forward in 2015? Here we give you a break down:

Food Demand

Prices for cattle were driven by several factors in 2014 – weather, low herd numbers, consumer demand. Demand is the factor that is talked about the least. Consumers still ate beef in 2014 despite seeing higher prices at retail. How the demands hold going forward will be critical to the American cattle producer.

The Daily Livestock Report says consumers are expressing more confidence and comfort with the economic situation. Thompson-Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment has grown steadily since July. Falling gas prices and job wage improvements have been noted as key factors. Due to this, going forward into 2015, consumer meat demand looks to continue the positive trend it is on.

Regarding other foods, expect to see egg prices go up for the short term as new egg laws in California regarding hen crate size go into effect. In addition a disease outbreak in Mexico last year had U.S. producers shipping more eggs than normal south of the border limiting domestic supply.


With the 114th Congress now in session expect the Republican Party to quickly advance energy legislation – mainly the Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry oil produced from Canada, Montana and North Dakota south to refineries in Texas.

Democrat, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has reported that Congress will likely also take on blocking of environmental regulations on coal mining and other energy-related industries in the New Year. Continue reading

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Blessed Christmas

A winter storm is blowing in and we are just a few days away from Christmas. The thought of a snowy white Christmas pleases me.

f4311-silentnight8x10The goodies have all been baked, the shopping is all done, the tree has been decorated for weeks. Christmas has been stress free this year and for that I am thankful.

That is just the way our Lord and Savior would want it. No fuss, no muss. A birthday party that isn’t fancy or hectic in anyway.

May we all remember that indeed the Christmas holiday is a time for celebrating with family and friends, but it is also a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and his great gift of life to us.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas,

Codi Vallery-Mills

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South Dakota Cattlemen’s Media Award

Amy Pravecek, Agribusiness Person of the Year and Codi Mills, Media Award.

Amy Pravecek, Agribusiness Person of the Year and Codi Mills, Media Award.

This week I was honored to receive the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Media Award. I have worked for just over 10 years in the state’s ag industry reporting on the news and happenings of its producers.

To be recognized for my efforts so early on in my career is humbling. Simply humbling.

– Codi Vallery-Mills

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Kid’s Book Now Out!

Husker Cover smallMy first children’s book, Husker the Mule: A Birthday Present is now out and available just in time for the holiday shopping season!

This is a book for ages 4-8 but really any age will enjoy the reminder the story provides and beautiful illustrations provided by artist Teri McTighe bring it all to life.

Learn more about the book and place an order for your copy here


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October – A month of purpose

By Codi Vallery-Mills
This month, in two completely different settings, I was asked the question, “What is your purpose?”
The first time the question was posed it was from North Dakota State University’s Dr. Gerald Stokka, DVM who was speaking at the South Dakota Women in Ag’s annual fall conference. He asked the room full of women what our purpose as farmers and ranchers is. The obvious answer of course is that we create the world’s food supply. “And what a great purpose those in Ag have,” said Stokka. “To produce such a need as food gives one great authority, but what comes with authority? Responsibility.”
One of Stokka’s roles at NDSU revolves around livestock stewardship. However, that day his message on responsible livestock stewardship went deeper than a textbook explanation.With authority to produce food comes the responsibility to be stewards of – land, animals, self, family, community, culture, philosophy – and the list could go on, he explained. Whatever helps one accomplish careful and responsible management of something entrusted to ones care requires stewardship. He suggests that those in the ag industry need to reinvest in passionately finding their purpose and stewardship will likely follow. “Science glazes over the passion . . . you know, that thing that makes you bring a calf into your home’s bathroom tub to warm up so it has a chance at life.”
Stokka asked the women that day to create a mission statement for ones self and put an emphasis on stewardship of the gifts, creativity, culture and philosophy one has to carry out their mission’s purpose.
Also in October I heard a church sermon series based around the word S.H.A.P.E., where each letter stood for something different. S stands for spiritual gifts, H stands for heart, A stands for abilities, P is for personality and E is Experience.  The pastor asked for each of us to consider the above letters by putting into context what true spiritual gifts and abilities we have to offer others. Are we introverts? Extroverts? Procrastinators? Competitors? And what is our background? Above all else though, where is our heart (aka. Passion).
Once you have identified items for each letter you will likely see areas that overlap, duplicate and maybe even offer a glimpse at a purpose you hadn’t thought about. I know I did.
The sermon flashed me back to Stokka’s presentation where he mentioned using our creative abilities, compassionate hearts, and unique selves to accomplish being stewards of agriculture and the rural lifestyles many of us live.
So I leave October a little more aware of my own purpose on earth and hope that you too are walking a path that speaks to your heart.

© 2014 Codi Vallery-Mills

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Keeping Time

The kitchen clock ticked away keeping beat to an ancestral song.

It grew fainter and then came back strong, like dramatic music in a suspense movie, the audience waiting for the crescendo.

The clock didn’t seem to care that it was midmorning and nothing of importance was happening.  It beat on, striking down living moments with its second hand.

It seemed angry at times, as ticking grew louder, as if to remind those that life was indeed passing by. But then regretful of its own passion, it calmed and faded.

What an odd life to live, full of minutes, hours and days not used. Instead, watching passively as others march to the beat you set and hoping they do well in keeping time.

©2014 Codi Vallery-Mills

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