BFRDP Projects

beefSD: Enhancing knowledge and success of beginning beef producers through mentorship and training
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $744,113
Grant Program: 2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Ken Olson
Organization: South Dakota State University


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

We addressed the primary goal of BFRDP “enhance food security, community development and sustainability by providing beginning farmers and ranchers … with knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed decisions for their operations, and enhance their sustainability”. This project provided training and mentoring that assisted 48 beginning beef cattle producers from 28 different operations in South Dakota to become economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable. It was a collaborative partnership of SDSU Extension, 4 South Dakota producer organizations, 3 rural banks, and 19 beefSD alumni that served as peer mentors. 
It was comprised of:

  • Instructional workshops (topics included livestock production, natural resource stewardship, marketing, finance, legal, and leadership)
  • Case studies of four alternative beef production systems and management practices
  • Evaluation of post-weaning performance of participants’ calves 
  • Mentoring from peers, established beef cattle producers and agriculture professionals 
  • Web-based interaction using social networking and webinars
  • Travel-study trips to study other segments of the beef cattle industry

The intensive 24 month program was highly successful.  It presented producers tools to make wise management decisions that contribute to ongoing agricultural production, land stewardship, and rural community viability. Impacts to the producers are numerous and will have long term implementations and outcomes to the beef industry in South Dakota. Satisfaction with the program was 4.68 out of 5. 

Quotes on the overall impact: 
“Absolutely loved this program and we are so honored that we were chosen to be apart of this program and we can't wait to be able to implement everything we have learned and strive to continue networking, advocating, and improving our operation daily.”

“… I never would have even thought about 75% of the things we've done from going through a packing plant, feedlots, legislative sessions, white table cloth suppers, and the networking aspect....Its broadened my horizons so much” 

Number of Participants: 73


Promotional Materials

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Educational Materials

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Reports & Evaluations

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Delivery Area

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Individual Stories / Examples of Success