Montana’s Next Generation Conference Heads Online


Montana’s Next Generation Conference has become one of the premier meetings of farmers and ranchers in the Big Sky State. Held annually in Shelby, the conference has become a producer favorite covering all kinds of agricultural topics from crops to livestock to taxes to transition planning.

The 2021 Conference is taking place online, but will still offer the same level of high-quality information that attendees have come to expect. Rather than taking place over one weekend, the conference has been split into six evening workshops beginning on Tuesday, January 12th. All sessions will be accessible for free online.

The organization and planning of the event takes almost a full year to plan. Lacy Roberts, from Glacier County FSA, is one of the presenters and an organizer of the event. She told Northern Ag Network that they were already into the planning of the 2021 event when COVID-19 hit, no one expected that it would still be with us 10 months later.

There are some positive aspects of a virtual meeting though. Kari Lewis with MSU Extension in Glacier County says that this year all the presentations will be recorded and available online. “People always say they wish they could’ve gone to more of the workshops, but the times overlap,” Lewis said. “Well this year, there’s nothing overlapping so you can definitely attend all the sessions.”

Actually in 2021 it may just turn out that more producers participate in the Next Generation Conference. “It’s been kind of fun to watch the registrations roll in,” says Lewis. “We of course have people from all over Montana, some of who may not travel to Shelby anyway. But we’ve also gotten a decent number from Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, Vermont, Saskatchewan, and even Ecuador. So, I think that’s really a testament to the quality of the conference. So often I think we may take it for granted, but this is a big deal that you have people from out of state that want to join in.”

Registration for the conference can be completed at You can register for each session or just the ones you want to watch. Kari and Lacy do ask that participants register at least by Noon on the day of the workshop. The links will be emailed out to each participant the afternoon of the session.

Below are the session dates and topics:


  • Jan. 12: Lacy Roberts, Glacier County FSA farm loan manager, will present “Beginning Financial and Production Recordkeeping.” Roberts will cover the basics of developing a balance sheet and cash flow, as well as how to keep track of income and expenses. Mykel Taylor, an associate professor at Purdue University and an MSU graduate, will discuss making strategic management decisions based on financial records.


  • Jan. 14: Dallas Mount of Ranching for Profit will be joined by three producers to discuss generating profit from farming and ranching enterprises by developing new income streams and closing unprofitable enterprises.


  • Jan. 19: Domenic Varricchio from Roach Ag Marketing will cover the topic of marketing and how to develop a farm and ranch marketing plan using futures and options. He will give an overview of the 2021 marketing opportunities available to producers. Shane Eaton, co-owner of Eaton Charolais Ranch in Lindsay, will discuss how his family operation is four generations strong thanks to a robust marketing plan. Along with over 1,500 head of registered Charolais and 1,500 commercial cattle, the family operation has multiple feedlots in Montana and North Dakota.


  • Jan. 21: Carla Sanford, MSU Extension beef specialist, will cover cattle nutrition. Her focus will be on how third trimester nutrition and fetal programming tie together. Brian Vander Ley, veterinary epidemiologist at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center in Nebraska, will follow Sanford and discuss how to begin calf nutrition, the importance of colostrum in a new calf and long-term effects when this building block is missed.


  • Jan. 26: Jane Wolery, MSU Extension Teton County agent, will present “FENCES – Families Engaging Nicely in Communicating ExpectationS.” Wolery will share the importance of communication in moving a family operation forward and having effective lines of communication. Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist, will follow with a discussion on how to start succession and estate planning conversations with family members.


  • Jan. 28: Brian Lee from the Lee Law Office in Shelby will present “Legal Horror Stories and Taxes.” Lee will highlight some legal stories gone wrong and how agricultural businesses can ensure agreements say what they mean. Britney Tempel with the accounting and business consulting firm Wipfli will discuss tax updates and how they are important to farm and ranch producers.



Northern Ag Network

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x