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Source: Landmark Services news release

Landmark Services Cooperative recently hosted the Real Life Farm Summit. Nearly 200 livestock producers and crop growers from the Midwest attended the debut events in Beaver Dam, Wis., and Janesville, Wis. Attendees had the opportunity to further the business sides of their operations and learn strategies for mitigating agricultural stress.

"Our goal with the Real Life Farm Summit was to share information relating to the human side of farming," says Cassandra Strommen, Vice President Marketing Development for Landmark Services Cooperative. "All farms are businesses and management goes beyond the livestock and the fields. These summits were another way for those of us within the agricultural industry to inspire one another and learn about time management, social media, health care and farm safety."

Keynote speaker Roger Seip, co-founder of Freedom Personal Development and author of the book Train Your Brain for Success, kicked off the summits with an interactive presentation focused on how the mind works.

"You can literally train your brain to be more successful in your business and in your life," he said. "[Producers in attendance] can use what you learn here to have greater energy, less stress and to make your business more financially successful."

Seip began his presentation by explaining that each person's mind creates their life, with their focus determining their reality.

"You see what you look for," he said, explaining that when producers look for positivity, they are more likely to notice it and have positive attitudes. "Watching for and acknowledging success is especially important in business because our brains tend to naturally over-emphasize the negative and under-emphasize the positive."

To train your brain for success, Seip encouraged producers to take the following steps:

1. Heighten your awareness of what's most important to oneself.

2. Create goals that give you energy.

3. Design a schedule that gives you space; build space in the schedule to recharge your batteries.

4. Develop an ongoing system for feeding your mind.

Breakout sessions were also a feature of this year's events. Key take-home messages from each presentation include:

The Affordable Care Act and its Impact on Farm Families, presented by Heidi Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Extension

"The Affordable Care Act is a large bill that has implications to farm families. Farmers, especially dairy producers, are more likely to purchase their own insurance than most Americans," Johnson said.

The Affordable Care Act sets new limits on out-of-pocket payments and deductibles and provides a set list of benefits that must be included in health plans. The Act also provides health insurance subsidies based on adjusted gross income and outlines rules for providing health care to farm employees.

Under the Affordable Care Act, every American must have insurance or they will pay a penalty through their federal income tax return. The penalty is $95 per adult or 1 percent of total income (whichever is higher) in 2014 and will rise to $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of total income (whichever is higher) in 2016.

Health insurance policy options, estimated subsidies and application materials are available at or by calling 1-800-318-2596.

Additional information from Heidi Johnson is available at:

Balancing Work and Life to Achieve Goals, presented by Roger Seip, Freedom Personal Development

"Set consistent and timely building blocks to keep your mind on track each week," Seip said. "Focus on the positives and you'll remain focused on the things that work for you."

Daily: Practice gratitude: List things you are grateful for at the start and end of each day. Start the day with: "This is going to be a great day; let's think about why."

Daily: Spend time reading and listening to something positive.

Weekly: Spend time with positive, like-minded people; you become like the people you are around.

Weekly: Set aside 1-2 hours at the beginning of each week to plan priorities for the week. Review the successes and challenges of the most recent week and your big picture goals. Then, think through the priorities of your upcoming week and schedule priority tasks, making sure to focus on these tasks during the week.

The Power of Social Media, presented by Carrie Chestnut Mess, founder of "The Adventures of Dairy Carrie"

"Producers have knowledge, passion and trust on our side," Chestnut Mess said. "As farmers, we are the spokespeople of our industry. Social media is one new option to open our doors to consumers to let them see where their food comes from and to get to know the people behind their food."

Communicating can be simple. Take a photo or post about your day on your own Facebook page to influence people within your circle.

Include personal narratives: Share your experiences, how your job makes you feel and why you're passionate about your job.

Share your story in all parts of your life. Thanking consumers and talking about agriculture at the grocery store and community members at events can help put a face to agriculture and make connections with consumers not directly connected to the industry.

Farm Safety: A Proactive Approach to Saving Money and Lives, presented by Matt Solymossy, safety director for Landmark Services Cooperative

"Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations, so it's critically important that all team members know safety precautions and regulations," Solymossy said. "New regulations and government policies add financial risks for not following safety protocols."

All farms with greater than 1,320 gallons of oil products on the farm must have a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan. A template is available from the Environmental Protection Agency at

All employers must provide workers compensation coverage if employing more than six employees, even if temporary.

All farms with greater than 10 employees are eligible for inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

For additional information on business management and the topics discussed at the Real Life Farm Summit, visit or contact Kristi Olson at or (608) 669-1822.

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