Montana Farm Bureau members attending the organization’s 100th Annual Convention November 11-14 in Billings will have the opportunity to attend a variety of informative workshops. Those workshops will cover current topics of interest to farmers and ranchers including employment, rural broadband, mental health, estate planning, social media marketing and leadership.

Bob Milligan, professor emeritus, Cornell University, is offering two separate workshops: one on hiring farm and ranch employees; the other concerning interpersonal relationships with employees.  In his workshop, Dr. Milligan will cover hiring employees as well as communicating and supervising your ranch workforce.

With the need for rural broadband in the news, RJ Karney, director of Congressional Relations, American Farm Bureau, will talk about why rural broadband is essential to modern agriculture and how current policy is affecting the ability to deploy rural broadband.

A topic of apprehension across the country is mental health concerns with farmers and ranchers. Darla Tyler McSherry founded, an initiative designed to bring awareness, education and prevention strategies to the issue of suicide. In her workshop “Candid and Compassionate Conversations for the Farm and Ranch Community” McSherry will explore the issue of suicide and agriculture. Participants will learn the latest data regarding this topic, identify risk factors unique to farmers and ranchers, and define strategies they can incorporate into their personal lives and their community to improve mental well-being and reduce the risks.

Ever think about marketing your product directly to consumers? Mary Heffernan, who is slated as a lunch speaker, will also presenting her workshop, “Using Social Media to Build a Brand and Market a Direct to Consumer Operation.” Heffernan runs several successful ag-related businesses in her small hometown with her family and looks forward to sharing her knowledge with Farm Bureau members.
With estate planning on everyone’s mind, Wipfli CPAs and ag business transition strategists Curt Barnekoff and Dana Springer will share insights to begin breaking down the barriers and create your specific roadmap to successfully transition your family’s farm or ranch. 

No Farm Bureau workshop list would be complete without a session on leadership. Montana State University Leadership Institute Director Carmen McSpadden will encourage attendees to look at the future and MFBF’s next 100 years. “How do members want to serve their county Farm Bureaus and Montana agriculture? By talking with peers about challenges and opportunities during this workshop, attendees with learn to capture goals and keep these dreams in mind on a daily basis,” McSpadden said.