Featured Farmer - Justin Odegaard, Lake Preston
Families work together on diverse operation
Just like any other family business, a priority for one generation of a family farm is often to find a way for the next generation to become involved in the farming operation. In many cases, that means looking for ways to sustainably expand or diversify the farm. Odegaard Family Farms is just one example of a South Dakota farming operation that has grown to provide opportunities for new generations.
They raise pigs in a 600 sow farrow-to-finish operation, which means that pigs are raised from birth to final production weight on their farm. They also raise beef cattle and grow corn and soybeans on about 2,000 acres. The diverse operations in the farm provide opportunities for several members of the multi-generation farm family to be involved.
Justin Odegaard is part of the fifth generation of Odegaards to farm on his family’s land near Lake Preston. His grandfather Marvin started the farm, and now it is currently operated by Justin’s mother Sharon, his uncle Randy, his cousin Michelle Malone, and his brothers Shaun and Shane.
Each family member takes responsibility for a certain aspect of the operation. For example, Sharon handles the farm’s bookkeeping and accounting, while Michelle and Shaun are responsible for caring for the sows during gestation/farrowing.
While it can be challenging to manage a diverse operation with a number of people involved, the Odegaards are thankful to all be working and raising their families on the farm.
“It was always dad’s goal to bring back any of the kids who wanted to be involved in the farm,” said Justin. His father, Wayne, and his brother, Josh, died in a farming accident in 2004.
As each family member graduated from college and looked to join the farming operation, the farm diversified or expanded to provide an opportunity. Before coming to work on the farm, Shane worked on custom harvesting crews and operated his own custom harvesting business. In 2012, the family expanded from 300 to 600 sows. That growth allowed Shaun Odegaard a chance to come back to the farming operation.
Family members see livestock production as an important part not only their farm, but for South Dakota agriculture and rural communities.
“Livestock production provides an opportunity for farmers to expand their operations to include young people,” said Justin. “It also creates jobs in related industries that provide services and products that support livestock production.”
The family members are also very active in promoting pork production and agriculture in South Dakota, as well as in community organizations.
“Most of the family is involved in various committees or groups of South Dakota Pork Producers Council,” said Justin. He just wrapped up a six-year term on the state board of directors.
Odegaard family members are involved in local community development boards, the coop board, Jaycees, 4-H, and church boards – just to name a few.
“We are all involved in a little of everything. It is important to stay active and work to keep our small towns as alive as possible,” he said.