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Real Life Farm Summit brings answers on finance, safety

COTTAGE GROVE, WI -- Landmark Services Cooperative recently welcomed livestock producers and crop growers from the Midwest to the Real Life Farm Summit in Janesville, WI. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about financial trends, new regulations on farm equipment and finding the right employees for their farm team.

"Our goal is to provide the resources producers need to be as successful and comfortable in communicating with consumers, human resources and safety, as they are with their crops and livestock," said Cassandra Strommen, vice president marketing development for Landmark Services Cooperative.

Dr. Jay Lehr, keynote speaker at the Real Life Farm Summit, challenged the audience to share information about their farm with consumers for two hours a month. "Twenty-four hours in a year. That is just one day," said Lehr a science director at the Heartland Institute and author of more than 30 books and 1,000 magazine and journal articles. "A farmer's biggest problem is that the public doesn't understand them. Let's change that."

If the Real Life Farm Summit attendees accept the challenge, combined, they would be sharing about agriculture for more than 1,200 hours in 2015.

Following Lehr's opening keynote, breakout sessions provided an in-depth look at the following key topics:

Do the Lambeau Leap when you look at your financial statement, presented by Hans Pflieger and Bob Panzer, Verity Business Solutions, LLC. Verity Business Solutions, LLC is the financial and consultative services arm of Landmark Services Cooperative wholly owned and powered by Landmark Services Cooperative.

Coming out of 2014, "Evaluating, reviewing and planning are critical elements to a successful 2015," said Hans Pflieger, vice president, Verity Business Solutions. "Understanding the financial trends and break-evens of your business will help you have a better handle on your financial health."

Pflieger shared that a reduction in working capital is a trend he has seen. "Working capital is a measure of a company's efficiency and its short term financial health," explained Pflieger.

Regulatory and safety issues on the farm, presented by Matt Solymossy, safety manager, Landmark Services Cooperative.

"State and federal safety regulation compliance continues to be front and center in 2015," said Solymossy. "Farmers should be aware that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has new requirements for injury reporting in 2015."

In addition to new injury reporting, OSHA will be working through their Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs). These programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the office's jurisdiction.

"Work with your local Landmark Services Cooperative team members to learn more about these updates, new regulations and LEPs," said Solymossy.

Solymossy also shared updates to the new Implements of Husbandry (IoH) regulations enacted in 2015.

The Implements of Husbandry law (Wisconsin Act 377), defines and sets height, length, weight and width specifications and allows local townships to regulate and potentially require permits for both Implements of Husbandry (IoH) and Agriculture Commercial Motor Vehicles (Ag CMV). "It's important that farmers are aware of these new regulations," Solymossy said.

Finding great employees and keeping them, presented by Jeremy Henkels, executive vice president of Human Resources, Landmark Services Cooperative.

"An extraordinary amount of work goes into finding the right employee for your team," explained Henkels. From the position description, job posting and posting the job opening to screening applicants, interviewing them and making an offer -- it takes time.

"This is a challenge for every company," said Henkel.

"Once the employee is hired, then the focus should shift to keeping them engaged in positive relationships and effective communication.

Take the opportunity to listen to your employees and above all, be consistent and fair across all employees."

Closing the Real Life Farm Summit, former Green Bay Packer Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler, William Henderson shared his personal story of struggle and triumph, from a young boy to 12-year professional NFL player.

Henderson shared the importance of identifying goals, working toward them and surrounding oneself with a team that shares a common mindset.

"If you want something in life, it's going to take hard work," Henderson explained.

"I appreciate everything farmers do. Every morning you get up and get it done."

For more information on the Real Life Farm Summit or Landmark Services Cooperative's programs, contact Cassandra Strommen at 800-236-3276 or email Cassandra.Strommen@landmark. coop or visit