COVID-19’s Impact on Ag in 2021 focus of Jan. 12 webinar

HURON, S.D. (Press Release) – Connecting South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers with thought leaders and timely information is the focus of South Dakota Farmers Union’s (SDFU) Producer Webinar Series. Beginning Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. (central), the state’s largest agriculture organization will host four bi-weekly sessions focusing on relevant topics and led by industry experts.

“Education is among our founding principles,” explained Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation farmer. “Just because we cannot meet in person for safety reasons, does not make access to education any less necessary.”

Since March 2020, virtual accessibility to information has been a large focus of Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

“The future of South Dakota’s number one industry rests on farmers and ranchers having the information and resources they need to make wise management decisions,” Hofhenke said. “So, Farmers Union has worked to do our part in making this information accessible even during a pandemic.”

Registration details

All webinars will be one-hour and are provided at no cost to producers by South Dakota Farmers Union. To register, visit and click on the Events tab.

Series details

January 12 at 1 p.m. (central): COVID-19 and Its Impact on Agriculture in 2021 This webinar will be led by Dr. Dave Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech. An academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research and involvement in ag businesses.

He has traveled nearly 10 million miles; conducted more than 6,500 presentations; and published more than 2,250 articles in his career. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

January 26 at 1 p.m. (central): Succession Planning This webinar will be led by Poppy Davis, a business and policy adviser to agricultural and food and beverage enterprises, and to nonprofits and local governments. Davis has worked as a CPA, at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in various non-profits.

During the webinar, Davis will guide participants through the Business Transition and Succession Readiness Self-Assessment.

This self-assessment tool can be used to evaluate structures and procedures currently in place to ensure a farm or ranch can continue during the short-term absence or permanent departure of the primary operator.

During the webinar, Davis will discuss how the assessment can help producers set goals and plan next steps to make their business resilient and ready for short or long-term change of management.

February 9 at 1 p.m. (central): Four Megatrends in Agriculture – What’s Driving Ag in 2021 This webinar will be led by Mike Pearson, a cattle producer and ag lender.

Pearson was born and raised in South Central Iowa, where he grew to love agriculture on his family’s hog and cattle farm. After graduating from Simpson College, Pearson moved to Grinnell, Iowa where he had the chance to build his own cow herd in addition to working as an agricultural lender. Over the next 10 years, Pearson left the world of finance and entered the world of media. He’s previously hosted “Market to Market” on Public Television, the Ag News Daily podcast, and currently, viewers can find him behind the anchor desk on “This Week In Agribusiness” with Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson, which can be found on RFD TV or hundreds of local stations each weekend.

Mike has a lifetime of experience in the agriculture world, until recently farming himself and feeding cattle.

February 2021: Agriculture Policy is the focus of the final webinar. The date is dependent up on speaker availability.

To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union and how the organization supports South Dakota family farmers and ranchers, visit