Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation https://wfbf.com A Voice for Farmers. A Vision for Agriculture.® Fri, 22 Jun 2018 20:38:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wfbf.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/cropped-fb-32x32.jpg Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation https://wfbf.com 32 32 Keeping Our “Head” in the Game https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/keeping-our-head-in-the-game/ https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/keeping-our-head-in-the-game/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:40:30 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32918 Keep your head in the game! I have heard many coaches, players and broadcasters shout those instructions many times during my 33 years of playing, watching and enjoying sporting events. Sometimes executing those instructions is easier said than done. I have seen the quote several times on social media making the statement, “Be kind. Everyone […]

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Keep your head in the game! I have heard many coaches, players and broadcasters shout those instructions many times during my 33 years of playing, watching and enjoying sporting events. Sometimes executing those instructions is easier said than done. I have seen the quote several times on social media making the statement, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” That struggle could be related to anything from family to financial stress and everything in between. As human beings, we are imperfect and face challenges, but often compartmentalize these challenges in unhealthy ways.

I know that I have re-written this column at least half a dozen times this month. It hasn’t been for a lack or words or direction, or even because of spelling and grammar errors. It’s been because the subject and talking points are not easy to walk through. By no means am I an expert on mental health, but I wanted to address this topic because it is very relevant to our nation’s agricultural community.

As I hope many of you know, our farm community is navigating through a very tough economic time today. Nearly every farm product we produce in Wisconsin from milk to cranberries to meat to corn and soybeans are at severe lows compared to costs of production. Many farmers are working 18+ hour days to care for livestock and plant their crops and literally losing money every time they lace up their boots. This challenge is not unique to Wisconsin, which has resulted in the farmer suicide rate being DOUBLE that of veterans from our armed services. The real number is 44. According to the Center for Disease Control, 44 farmers commit suicide every day across our country. That’s a staggering number as our farm community only makes up about 2% of our total population here in the U.S.

I have not served and therefore cannot and will not speculate as to what’s going through a veteran’s mind, but I have been around agriculture my entire life. The physical, mental and emotional challenges our farmers face are tough when prices are good, but when you add the financial stress of spending several hundred dollars an acre to grow a crop it’s easy to see how the stress is amplified. The average corn crop in Wisconsin will cost around $600 per acre to plant in 2018, and at current market prices we need 200-bushel/acre corn to break even. The Green County corn yield average is 173 bushels per acre, which is a 27-bushel loss, or $81 dollars per acre of red ink. If I grow 500 acres of corn that’s a potential loss of $40,500. The idea of going to work every day and losing that kind of money is agonizing. The dairy industry has an even higher risk of loss today. Every farm is different and has a different break even point, however, the struggle within our farming communities is real.

The idea of going to work every day and losing that kind of money is agonizing.

Farming is a rewarding career and lifestyle, but doesn’t come without tough times and stress. If there is one thing I know about working with farmers, it’s that they are a very proud group of people. Talking about their financial plight and mental health is likely not high on the priority list. That certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk thru these issues. There are a variety of outlets for people to reach out to when it comes to mental health here in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) offers a free, confidential resource called the Wisconsin Farm Center. They offer free, confidential assistance for all Wisconsin farmers in a variety of areas to help work through some tough situations. They offer advice in the areas of farm financial planning, farm transition, conflict mediation, herd-based diagnostics, counseling services and more.

Farming is a rewarding career and lifestyle, but doesn’t come without tough times and stress.

Here in Green County there are a variety of resources ranging from, but not limited to, the Green County Health and Human Services, the Green County Healthy Community Coalition and the Behavioral Health Department at the Monroe Clinic. These outlets have tools available to assist you through the challenges you’re facing, and help find healthy alternatives to dealing with these issues.

To our farmers reading this article, thank you. Thank you for what you do and the sacrifices you make every day in good times and in tough times to provide food and fiber for your consumers. There is no shame in reaching out to others during your time of need and certainly do not have to bear your burdens alone. Please reach out to the people and organizations listed above when you need someone to talk to.

To the consumers reading this column, please take the time to thank a farmer. That simple message can go a long way when it comes from someone who appreciates the jobs being done to help feed their family. If you eat, you should thank those who provide the food, fiber, milk and meat that we as consumers enjoy. Whether it be with a friend, relative, neighbor or random stranger, we all should take the time to stop, listen and say thank you to our farmers every day, but especially now during their time of need. Let’s help them keep their head in the game.


Ben Huber

Ben Huber serves as the Green County Farm Bureau president and is the agronomy risk management and procurement manager for Insight FS. He and his wife, Stephanie, are the proud parents of 3 children. 

 

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Meet: Tom and Kari Riley https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-tom-and-kari-riley/ https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-tom-and-kari-riley/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 18:11:10 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32867 Goat Farming a New Venture for Riley Family Tom and Kari Riley enjoy raising their children on the farm along with a variety of animals. Although goat farming wasn’t something that the family ever planned to pursue. What started as a 4-H project for their daughter, Everlah, turned into a new niche that they have […]

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Goat Farming a New Venture for Riley Family

Tom and Kari Riley enjoy raising their children on the farm along with a variety of animals. Although goat farming wasn’t something that the family ever planned to pursue. What started as a 4-H project for their daughter, Everlah, turned into a new niche that they have grown to love.

“If you would have told me that I was going to be a goat farmer five years ago, I would have thought you were kidding,” said Tom.

While they didn’t start milking goats until July 2017, they have always been in the dairy business.

Tom grew up on the farm they live on in Amherst. He showed pigs through FFA but when he graduated high school in 1992, he remodeled the barn and bought his first cows. Kari grew up on a dairy farm in Waupaca.

The couple has five children who have been, or currently are, active in 4-H and FFA. Their oldest, Ethan, carried his love for agriculture into his career at Agropur, a dairy processing company. Elisha, the second-oldest, is attending UW-River Falls. She served as a Wisconsin State FFA officer this past year and shows pigs, dairy heifers and rabbits at the Waupaca County Fair. Everlah is a member of 4-H and FFA and along with her younger brother, Elwood, enjoys showing pigs, dairy heifers and goats. The Rileys also have a four-year-old foster daughter named Auroara and her two-year-old sister, Ember, who visits often.

While the Riley children help around their school schedules and on the weekend, the day-to-day chores are mostly done by Tom and Kari. Tom takes care of the family’s 28 organic dairy cattle while Kari mostly cares for the goats. This summer they will have about 120 milking goats and 70 doelings. They also have 20 wethers (meat goats).

While most people think of cows when they hear American’s Dairyland, goats serve an important role in Wisconsin’s dairy industry. In fact, Wisconsin ranks first for the number of dairy goats in the country.

Kari says that the biggest misconception about goats is that they eat everything.

“They do not eat everything,” said Kari. “But they do nibble on anything. They are foragers not grazers. They would rather eat your rose bush than grass.”

The Rileys have been Waupaca County Farm Bureau members since 1995.

“My uncle Wayne encouraged us to join and participate in the Young Farmer program,” said Kari. “We were finalists in the Young Farmer Achievement Award, participated in the Discussion Meet and traveled to Washington, D.C., on a Farm Bureau trip in 1999.”

Formerly, Tom served on the Waupaca County Farm Bureau board as the Young Farmer and Agriculturist chair and now serves as membership chair. Kari is the Ag in the Classroom coordinator for Waupaca County.

The goats are milked in a parlor at the Riley’s farm in Amherst.

Story by Amy Eckelberg. Original version appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.

 

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Take A Look Through A Different Lens https://wfbf.com/food-and-farming/take-a-look-through-a-different-lens/ https://wfbf.com/food-and-farming/take-a-look-through-a-different-lens/#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2018 17:06:34 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32887 Agriculture is one of the leading industries in Wisconsin, so it is disappointing to see institutions hiring speakers that spread misinformation about agriculture.  I attended a presentation given by Vandana Shiva, a well-known anti-GMO activist, at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  It was definitely an eye opener to understanding why people are so disconnected with American […]

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Agriculture is one of the leading industries in Wisconsin, so it is disappointing to see institutions hiring speakers that spread misinformation about agriculture.  I attended a presentation given by Vandana Shiva, a well-known anti-GMO activist, at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  It was definitely an eye opener to understanding why people are so disconnected with American agriculture.

Shiva, like American farmers, is passionate about the environment, but the way she portrayed the image of farmers and GMOs to the public was very concerning.  Her opinion is that the world is being treated as a machine and that the Earth’s freedoms are being pressured by the population she refers to as “industrial ag.”  Well, behind her label of “industrial ag” are real people and families that raise food for 100% of the population, while they make up less than 2%. 

In the U.S., 97% of farms are family owned, so why wouldn’t they want to protect the environment?  Farming is a way of life, that for many, has been passed down from generation to generation.  Yes, farmers want to make a living off the land but they also realize that in order to be successful and profitable, they must care for the resources on which they depend.

American farmers are tasked with feeding 325.7 million people in the U.S. alone, plus millions more worldwide.  Because of all the people who rely on American farmers to provide food, agriculture is a large scale industry, but farm families are the backbone of ensuring we have food on the grocery store shelves 7 days a week, 365 days each year. 

Shiva also believes that “industrial ag” provides 30% of food to the market and uses 70% of the resources.  Do you believe this? According to the United States Department of Agriculture the proportion of the land base in agricultural uses has declined from 63% in 1949 to 51% in 2007, a direct result of urban sprawl.  With the number of acres available to grow and raise food products declining, farmers have implemented technology and conservation practices to help sustain resources such as land and water. 

The message Shiva wants her listeners to take home is that GMO’s are bad for the planet.  This is simply not true and I can’t believe she gets paid thousands of dollars to say that…..and that people believe her!  GMOs are not scary, they are not some weird science project gone wrong, but they do provide many benefits for the environment.

First, let me explain the basic idea behind how a GMO is created.  Scientists are able to pinpoint the exact place in a plant’s DNA that must be ‘modified’ in order for the plant to be more resilient in drought, have a higher nutrient concentration, be resistant to pests, etc.  The scientists are then able to make the necessary modification to that one, single gene resulting in a plant that looks identical to a non-GMO plant, but will provide benefits to farmers and consumers.  GMOs allow farmers to grow more food on less land, drastically reduce the use of weed and insect control, utilize safer methods of controlling weeds and insects, reduce waste and so much more.

Shiva also, falsely stated that agriculture is the leading cause for soil erosion and water quality issues.   Proper stewardship is of utmost importance to farmers, so in every way possible they will help to protect these valuable resources.   In the state of Wisconsin, we have Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants that are intended to give financial support to farmers willing to lead conservation efforts tailored to their own watersheds. The emphasis is on innovation and practices not already covered by other state and federal programs, and the intent is that participating farmers will reach out to other farmers to help them adopt conservation practices.

Use of GMO seeds has helped reduce soil erosion by allowing farmers to more easily utilize no-till or minimum-till techniques that help preserve the topsoil.  These techniques also add more organic matter to the soil, which makes for better soil quality.  It is also important to note that crops which have been modified to withstand drought conditions are reducing the amount of water needed by farmers.  Overall, the crops are able to grow more abundantly because they don’t have to face setbacks from dry weather, weed and insect pressure or a number of other factors, which reduces the amount of land we need to grow crops. 

The thing I thought was funny is that we have been modifying the genes of plants for thousands of years, way before the idea of the GMO ever existed, through traditional plant breeding.  For thousands of years, farmers and researchers have been breeding crops that exhibit a desirable trait with those that don’t exhibit that trait, over time they create a plant that exhibits the desired trait.  Throughout this process several genes are being changed because we don’t have precise control over how the modifications are being made.  One example of this is seedless watermelons.  Many people believe that seedless watermelons are a GMO, when in reality, they are a hybrid that was formed by cross pollinating different watermelon varieties.  So the take home message is that GMOs are similar to traditional plant breeding, but we have precise control over which genes are being edited – no freaky science project stuff here.

I am glad I challenged myself to attend a presentation that made me see things through a different lens.  Often times we, in agriculture, just listen to the news we want to hear but there are many people out there spreading false information about the work we do.  Agriculture really must stand up for itself, but why should it be this hard?

Advocating and voicing the truth is so important, it will determine the future of our amazing agriculture community.  If you have questions about food, talk to a farmer that provides it for you, they will be happy to share factual information that just might pleasantly surprise you.  If you are a farmer, take the time to have a conversation with the consumers around you.  No one likes to be educated, so remember to engage folks in a conversation about what is important to them and find some common ground.  Most importantly, I challenge everyone to look through a different lens and see things from a different viewpoint.

While I am disappointed that UW-Oshkosh spent thousands of dollars on an event that spread misinformation and fear, my eyes were opened to the importance of farmers and agriculturists being present, engaged and willing to stand up for American agriculture.


Amanda Sandmire

Amanda Sandmire is a Winnebago County Farm Bureau board member and co-chair to the county’s YFA program.  She resides outside of Omro with her fiance, Tyler, and their daughter, Kenzy.  Amanda is a companion animal nutritionist for Doctors Choice Supplements and has been involved with Farm Bureau for five years.  

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Young Farm Bureau Members Advocate for Agriculture in D.C. https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/young-farm-bureau-members-advocate-for-agriculture-in-d-c/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/young-farm-bureau-members-advocate-for-agriculture-in-d-c/#respond Tue, 12 Jun 2018 20:40:54 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32855 Farm Bureau’s young leaders became lobbyists for a day while meeting with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. on June 6. The issues discussed were trade, immigration and the farm bill.     The June 4-8 trip was available to Farm Bureau members active in the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Program. The program provides members between […]

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Farm Bureau’s young leaders became lobbyists for a day while meeting with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. on June 6. The issues discussed were trade, immigration and the farm bill.  

 

The June 4-8 trip was available to Farm Bureau members active in the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Program. The program provides members between the ages of 18 and 35 with an opportunity to enhance their leadership skills while networking with their peers.

 

“This YFA trip was the experience of a lifetime,” said Brittany Muenster, an Outagamie County Farm Bureau member and dairy farmer. “The program dramatically increased my confidence when advocating for agriculture.”

While in Washington, D.C., YFA members met officials from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture where they discussed issues pertaining to federal crop insurance, Conservation Reserve Program and changes to dairy’s Margin Protection Program.

A visit to the New Zealand Embassy on June 5 included a conversation on trade and the global agricultural economy.

The 21 young leaders met with Senator Tammy Baldwin, staff from Senator Ron Johnson’s office and their member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As millennials, so many of our conversations happen behind a screen,” said Ryan Schultz, a Kewaunee County Farm Bureau member. “By meeting face-to-face with our elected officials, we can show that we are real people, with real stories, being impacted by legislative action.”

Members who attended the D.C. trip were: Lynn Dickman, Waushara County; Justin and Livia Doyle, Iowa County; Dan and Katie Duthie, Washington County; Stephanie and Joel Hammerly, Columbia County; Emily Johnson, Rock County; Derek Lieffring and Melanie Jandrin, Buffalo County; Amber and Joe McComish, Lafayette County; Brittney Muenster, Outagamie County;  Sam and Ryan Nowak, Waushara County; Brian Preder, Waupaca County; Ryan and Sarah Schultz, Kewaunee County; Julie Wadzinski, Barron County; Tammy Wiedenbeck, Grant County and Andrew Winiarczyk, Sawyer County.

For more information about the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist program, visit http://bit.ly/WIYFA.

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Meet: Charlie Knigge https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-charlie-knigge/ https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-charlie-knigge/#respond Mon, 11 Jun 2018 15:13:37 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32824 Knigge Family Proves Farmers Are Fond of Innovation Charlie Knigge was a high school sophomore in 1992 when he bought his first cows. The Knigge family had Guernsey cows prior to that but Charlie knew that for the production changes he wanted, Holsteins would be a better buy. “I always knew I wanted to farm,” […]

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Knigge Family Proves Farmers Are Fond of Innovation

Charlie Knigge was a high school sophomore in 1992 when he bought his first cows. The Knigge family had Guernsey cows prior to that but Charlie knew that for the production changes he wanted, Holsteins would be a better buy.

“I always knew I wanted to farm,” said Charlie from his farm office in Omro. Behind him sits computer screens full of blinking lights. “My family was considering a milking parlor and expanding our herd. At the same time, my dad had learned about a robotic milking system while overseas on a farm tour.”

Pete, Charlie’s dad, brought back information and later that year the family met with representatives from Lely, a company that is a world leader in designing robotic milkers. The representatives answered the Knigges’ questions about the technology.

“We knew we were better cow managers than people managers,” Charlie said.

The Knigges were the first farm in the U.S. to install a robotic milking system. Since then, they have been open about the good, and the challenges, that come with this technology.

“The first couple of years weren’t great,” Charlie admitted. “There was a lot to learn since U.S. farms are set up differently than those overseas. It took us time and research to make this system work. It was a learning process and we worked with quite a few people from UW-Madison and Lely to get things figured out.”

The Knigges have an automatic calf feeder. Each calf wears a collar with a chip that works similar to a fitbit. The device tracks the calf’s movement and milk intake.

Like most adaption, it takes time to work out the kinks and the unknowns. Charlie estimates it took three to four years to get things running well. It’s now been 17 years since the first system was installed and Charlie has no doubts in the system they chose.

“We are a great example of using technology to farm smarter,” Charlie said. “No, I’m not milking cows every day, twice a day. My dad is pretty crippled up from milking cows. It takes a toll on your body and I don’t want to be that way. Robots have let us farm differently.”

While his parents are still very active on the farm, Charlie runs the day-to-day operations and his sisters, Mary and Krista, come home to get “their feet dirty” when they can.

“The nice thing about the robotics is I don’t have to be here at exactly 5 a.m. every morning,” he said. “It’s really cool that cows can go and get milked when they want.”

His day still typically starts around 5:30 or 6 a.m. with a herd walk-through, report reading and field work when it’s time.

“We rely on the data the computer shares with us, which was a big change initially,” Charlie said. “Every time a cow comes in to be milked it shares 150 points of data with us. That’s a lot of information at your fingertips. We can detect cows that may not be feeling well or ones that need to be bred. It’s amazing what we have access to.”

The Knigge family (from left) Charlie, parents Pete and Theo and Charlie’s son Jacob.

Family Fun and Unique Experiences

Charlie credits Krista for getting the farm listed on various agri-tourism sites.

“My dad enjoys giving tours,” explained Charlie. “We do a lot of farm tours because we want to do our part in educating people about modern agriculture. We get a lot of people who just want to see a farm. The robotics aren’t necessarily the draw.”

The family helps host tours for a world-wide gathering from a nearby church in Oshkosh.

“We reach between 5,000 and 7,000 people that week,” Charlie said. “They’ll come out on a bus and then they bring friends back the next day, so they can show them what they learned. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what happens on a farm and I’m glad we can clear those up. It’s when you see something you can believe it.”

Through these experiences, Charlie has heard his fair share of unique questions.

“A very educated woman asked me once if you fed chocolate to cows to get chocolate milk. I was really floored that such a smart person could have that kind of question, but it just proves we can’t let people think any question is silly. They need answers.”

Krista and Mary help with the farm’s social media presence while Charlie, who knows the stress of change and the ins and outs of the Lely robotic milking system, helps other farmers get up and running with new equipment.

Knigge Farms has two robotic milkers for their cows to use. When the cow wants to be milked, it enters the milking unit. The system then reads the collar and it automatically puts on the milker.

“Robotics are helping small dairies stay in business,” he said. “I’ve seen families still farming because of it. Young people are taking an interest because it’s high tech. It’s makes them excited about farming again.”

While Charlie has a son in high school, you won’t hear any pressure toward following in his dad’s footsteps.

“He helps out on the farm and likes cows, but school, sports and 4-H keep him busy like most kids his age,” Charlie said. “If he is interested, it will be here, but I won’t be pressuring him. You need to find a job that doesn’t feel like a job and he needs to figure it out for himself.”

As the cow stops giving milk the unit automatically comes off.

As far as his career choice, Charlie knows he chose the right path.

 “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “Seeing something through is fulfilling. You must be an optimist but that’s part of it.”

A Fan of Farm Bureau

“I joined Farm Bureau kind of late,” Charlie said. “I was 34 when I joined, which meant I was about to age out of the Young Farmer and Agriculturist program.”

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist program offers opportunities for leadership and skills development for members between 18 and 35 years old, along with the chance to meet and network with peers.

“A neighbor asked me to join and get involved,” shared Charlie. “Ultimately, I got the Young Farmer program back up and running in our county.”

Charlie booted up the computer system in his tractor. This technology allows for accuracy in the field and includes GPS capability.

Charlie serves as Winnebago County Farm Bureau president.

“I have a lot of fun in the role of president,” Charlie said. “We have a young board that is great. It’s not the ‘old guys club.’ It’s neat to see the new ideas that flow in with a young board.”

Recently, the Winnebago County Farm Bureau handed out chocolate milk after a marathon.

Charlie checked over a piece of equipment before heading to the field to plant.

“We don’t always get to interact with groups like that,” explained Charlie. “We do well at talking to each other in agriculture, not as well outside of our circle. We are working on that as a local Farm Bureau.”

Charlie also served on the state Dairy Committee and Policy Development Committee.

“Serving on the Policy Development Committee was an amazing experience,” Charlie said. “It was great to have discussions and see the policy suggestions come in from the local level.”

Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s policy is established by farmers through a structured policy development process. Suggestions and policy ideas come directly from members who propose and vote on them at county Farm Bureau annual meetings in the fall.

While Charlie has been involved in many aspects of Farm Bureau, he credits the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute for being the best experience.

“Going through that training is the highlight of my Farm Bureau career,” Charlie stated.

Overall, Charlie sees his Farm Bureau involvement invaluable.

“I give Farm Bureau so much credit,” he said. “It’s a great social organization and they give you opportunities to travel, but they really spend the time needed to help their members grow. As a farmer, to know we aren’t fighting things alone … you can’t put a value on that.”

In 2016, Knigge Farms hosted “The Bachelor” production crew and contestants. In three days, the event was set up and the production crew was there. The whole family including Mary and Krista were there for the experience. Charlie admitted that it’s not his choice of TV show and he would have liked to see more modern agriculture shown in the episode, but overall it was a good experience and got agriculture on main-stream TV. A few weeks later the family hosted the NFL Network for a special campaign that talked about farming and football.

 

Story by Amy Eckelberg. Original version appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.

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Ag in the Classroom Awards Grants to Fund Ag Literacy Projects https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/ag-in-the-classroom-awards-grants-to-fund-ag-literacy-projects/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/ag-in-the-classroom-awards-grants-to-fund-ag-literacy-projects/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 19:33:51 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32819 The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Ag in the Classroom program has awarded nearly $9,300 to schools and organizations to expand agricultural literacy. Groups, schools and organizations can apply for up to $500 as part of the Ag in the Classroom’s matching grant program to support their project, provided they have a source of matching funds. […]

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The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Ag in the Classroom program has awarded nearly $9,300 to schools and organizations to expand agricultural literacy. Groups, schools and organizations can apply for up to $500 as part of the Ag in the Classroom’s matching grant program to support their project, provided they have a source of matching funds. The 22 matching grant recipients are:

Build a Food Forest – Deep Mulch Gardening – $500

Building a Food Forest is an active educational program for pre-K through 12th grade and adults in Independence. This program improves the well-being of individuals by teaching them how to grow their own vegetables and fruits. Students define deep mulch gardening, build their own small size models and compare vegetables grown in gardens versus store bought.

Cadott Community School District – Classroom to Plate, A Cadott Greenhouse Project – $500

The Cadott agriculture department is building a greenhouse to increase student learning and agriculture awareness. This greenhouse will provide vegetables for the school lunch program as well as Supervised Agricultural Experience opportunities for students involved in agricultural education. This project will provide a hands-on learning opportunity for all students who seek it.

Cows on the Concourse – 2018 Cows on the Concourse – $500

An annual event to kick-off June Dairy Month in Dane County, Cows on the Concourse is a ‘dairy good’ time. Located just off downtown Madison’s Capitol Square, this free event is fun for the whole family. This event gives kids and adults the unique opportunity to get close to cows and calves, enjoy hot grilled cheese sandwiches, chug ice-cold milk and learn from Wisconsin farmers.

Easter Seals Wisconsin – ESW FARM Agricultural Career Exploration Program – $500

Easter Seals Wisconsin’s Agricultural Career Exploration Program allows students to think outside the box while highlighting the hundreds of careers that play a role in the farming industry. The mission is to educate students with disabilities about the vast agricultural career opportunities in Wisconsin. These classes encourage students to see how their own interests could potentially fit into the agriculture industry.

Glenwood City Agriculture Department- Healthy Learning Center – $450

The Glenwood City agriculture department has developed a mobile learning center related to growing plants, providing food and making healthy choices. The system will be shared between the high school and elementary school students. The learning center teaches high school students the skills related to education and mentoring while giving elementary students a fun way to learn how food is grown.

Grant County Ag in the Classroom Program – A Dairy Good Tote – $500

Grant County Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee has tubs available for teachers to check-out. Each tub includes lesson plans, some examples of equipment used to milk dairy cows, a book about dairy, whipped cream makers, containers for making butter and ingredients/gift certificates need to make and enjoy whipped cream and butter.

Immanuel Lutheran School – Garden in a Box – $65

Ready, Set, Grow is a project at Immanuel Lutheran School in Manitowoc to help 2nd grade students learn about agriculture. Throughout the project students are develop an awareness of where their food comes from. They also learn how to manage a garden as they grow their own vegetables and flowers from seeds.

Jefferson High School Agriculture Department – Honey Bee Production – $500

The Jefferson High School Agriculture Department will invest in beekeeping equipment and supplies to bring more agricultural awareness into the local schools. The grant will be matched by a $500 grant from the Jefferson FFA with the goal of producing raw honey and honey comb to share with local elementary school students.

Kiel FFA Alumni – Agricultural Career Awareness Day – $500

Agricultural Career Awareness Day allows students to become aware of various agricultural careers at 12 different stations. For example, the landscaping station is where students gain basic knowledge of the career, take quizzes in identifying some different plants and landscape articles and then design their own landscape area working as a group.  

Laconia FFA – Laconia FFA Day on the Farm – $250

Every April, the Laconia FFA Chapter holds a Day on the Farm event. Nearly 400 elementary students in 2nd to 4th grade from the Rosendale-Brandon, Fond du Lac and Oshkosh School Districts are invited to visit a farm. This year’s stations include dairy cattle, sheep and goats, farm equipment, wildlife, maple syrup, feeds, horses, dairy products and a hayride. Students are given a take home items and have a goodie bag at the end of the day.

Northland Lutheran High School – Young Sprouts – $250

This summer will be the second year of harvest for the Giving Garden which offers free produce to residents of the Village and surrounding areas. Area elementary students from the Wausau area spend the day with Northland Lutheran High School students to start seedlings for the Giving Garden, a community garden for the Village of Kronenwetter.

Partnership for Progressive Agriculture – On the Moove – $500

The Marathon County Partnership for Progressive Agriculture is developing On the Moo-ve, a mobile dairy educational exhibit. On the Moo-ve is being developed in response to the rising demand by consumers to know how dairy farms care for their cattle and why dairy is a critical component of a healthy, balanced diet. On the Moo-ve will feature a life-size fiberglass cow and two interactive educational displays.

Pineview Elementary School – How Sweet It Is! – $500

How Sweet It Is will help students gain a better understanding and appreciation of how maple syrup arrives on their table. They will participate in tapping maple trees, calculating sugar content using refractometers while collecting sap, observing the evaporation process and recording sugar levels of the final product of maple syrup. Time at the Maple Sugar Shack will allow them to be hands-on and learn more about maple syrup.

Randolph Cambria-Friesland FFA – Food Bank Project Expansion – $300

Randolph Cambria-Friesland FFA is expanding its program to support area food banks. They have set a goal of growing 4,000 pounds of produce for four area food banks. The chapter partners with Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and Jung See Company to grow, process and distribute the food.

DCE 4K at St. John Lutheran Site – Forest Food – $250

The DC Everest 4K students from St. John Lutheran in Wausau will teach students about growing food in a butterfly garden. Funds provide the opportunity for students to become farmers by starting plants from seeds in a classroom greenhouse for sunflowers, mint, chamomile and lavender. Students then transplant their plants into a butterfly garden.

St. Mary School Garden – Garden Project 2018 – $500

St. Mary School Garden will buy seeds, soil and a new garden tiller for the 2018 season. Students in grades 3K through 8th grade are provided with this hands-on experience to help them understand how food is grown and the importance of human interaction with the environment. The garden helps students master STEM concepts, promotes healthy eating and exposes students to agricultural job opportunities.

Taylor County Cooperative Youth Fair – AG Venture Tent – $500

Taylor County Youth Fair will provide an AG Venture tent at this year’s fair. Youth will be able to work with 4-H members on showing techniques in a mini-showring in the tent. They will be able to interact with a calf, lamb and goat. Displays will be updated, and videos will be shown on different ways of raising animals. Corn and soybean boxes will be offered along with trivia.

Taylor County Literacy Council – Barns and Books – $500

Through collaboration between Taylor County organizations and school districts, 4th grade students from across the county will be engaged in an afternoon of hands-on, personalized, small group learning during a Barns and Books event. Literacy materials will provide accurate information such as a backdrop to the broad range of science, technology and art topics presented.

Tri-County Elementary School- Reading through Waushara County Agriculture – $500

The Tri-County Area School District will enhance the education of nearly 300 elementary students in many curricula areas by increasing exposure to agricultural-related topics through non-fictional books. This grant will allow the Tri-County Area School District an opportunity to address the rigor of the Common Core State Standards, while promoting a major industry of the Central Sands area: agriculture.

Turtle Lake FFA – Ag on the Lawn – $400

During Ag on the Lawn, FFA members share displays on agricultural careers. Elementary students see first-hand perspectives to the agriculture industry. Teachers provide follow-up classroom activities from Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom and treat students to some of Wisconsin’s finest agricultural snacks.

Union Grove FFA – Introduction to Agri-science – $500

Students at Union Grove High School’s Agriculture Education Department complete a Food Science Project where they investigate the Food Nutrient Analysis, Modeling Molecules of Life and Animal Health and Food Safety. During the project, students make different varieties of cheese and butter and develop a marketing campaign for their ‘new’ cheese/butter products and presented them to students and staff at Union Grove High School.

Verona FFA – Day on the Farm – $334

The Verona FFA Chapter will be hosting an educational field trip to 4th graders within the Verona School District. The purpose of this field trip is to provide a hands-on learning experience tied to their curriculum. Students will be able to tour a local dairy farm and participate in small group activities, designed to introduce them to agriculture in Wisconsin.

Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program provides teachers and K-12 students with an understanding of how their food is produced. The program seeks to work within existing curricula to provide basic information on our nation’s largest industry: agriculture. Wisconsin’s Ag in the Classroom program is carried out by a network of local educators, volunteers and representatives from agricultural organizations and businesses. The goal of the program is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role agriculture plays in the economy and society, so that they may become citizens who support wise agricultural policies.

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WFBF and Wisconsin Hemp Alliance Praise Baldwin and Johnson for Industrial Hemp Stance https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wfbf-and-wisconsin-hemp-alliance-praise-baldwin-and-johnson-for-industrial-hemp-stance/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wfbf-and-wisconsin-hemp-alliance-praise-baldwin-and-johnson-for-industrial-hemp-stance/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 15:13:09 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32817 U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson have signed onto legislation to support removing industrial hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. This will allow farmers to maximize their ability to grow and process this versatile plant. They join Representatives Glenn Grothman, Ron Kind, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Mike Gallagher in listing industrial hemp […]

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U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson have signed onto legislation to support removing industrial hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. This will allow farmers to maximize their ability to grow and process this versatile plant. They join Representatives Glenn Grothman, Ron Kind, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Mike Gallagher in listing industrial hemp as a crop.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) introduced the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 on April 12 and announced he will attach the bill’s language to the 2018 Farm Bill. 

“Wisconsin has a long history with industrial hemp and it’s heartening to see our congressional delegation publicly support its reintroduction as a crop,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. “With so much interest in Wisconsin’s hemp pilot program, we are poised to once again became a national leader in hemp production once these federal barriers are removed.”

Co-sponsored by 27 Senators, McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act will accomplish four main goals:

  • Remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Allow states for set up their own system to best regulate hemp
  • Allow researchers to apply for USDA grants to study hemp and its applications
  • Make industrial hemp eligible for federal crop insurance

“In our nation’s and state’s Capitol, Farm Bureau has been a tremendous leader in pushing for the legalization of industrial hemp,” said Wisconsin Hemp Alliance’s General Counsel Larry Konopacki. “We need McConnell’s bill to remove crippling obstacles hemp growers and processors face in lending, financial transactions, crop insurance coverage and limitless possibilities for research. The WHA will be working very closely with Farm Bureau and our congressional delegation to make sure our members and the state’s farmers can maximize opportunities and profitability in hemp’s existing and emerging markets.”       

The Wisconsin Hemp Alliance is a newly-formed state association bringing together growers, processors, retailers and consumers to further engage in the advocacy, education and promotion of hemp and hemp products.     

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. Made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus, it represents agriculturists and farms of every size, commodity and management style.

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Wisconsin Farm Bureau Co-Hosts Event on Importance of Free and Fair Trade https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wisconsin-farm-bureau-co-hosts-event-on-importance-of-free-and-fair-trade/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wisconsin-farm-bureau-co-hosts-event-on-importance-of-free-and-fair-trade/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 21:31:37 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32784 Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Farmers for Free Trade co-hosted a round table on the importance of fair and free trade policies on state agricultural exports. The roundtable, held on Wednesday, May 30, at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, featured Wisconsin agribusiness owners, farmers, including Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte, and Secretary of the […]

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Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Farmers for Free Trade co-hosted a round table on the importance of fair and free trade policies on state agricultural exports.

The roundtable, held on Wednesday, May 30, at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, featured Wisconsin agribusiness owners, farmers, including Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte, and Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Sheila Harsdorf.

Secretary Harsdorf Spoke at the May 30 Trade Event co-hosted by Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

During the event roundtable participants discussed the need for certainty and predictability of trade policies. In 2017, Wisconsin exported $3.5 billion of agricultural products to 147 countries, an increase of 3.6% compared to the previous year.

“Wisconsin farmers greatly benefit from trade,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. “Wisconsin ranks 12th nationally for the value of agricultural exports. It’s important to our state’s economy.”

To emphasize the importance of free and fair trade Holte signed-on to a letter with other state Farm Bureau presidents across the Midwest. The letter, dated May 15, was addressed to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking him to work with President Donald Trump to end the escalation of trade disputes with China that have and continue to threaten market opportunities for agricultural commodities and products.

The letter asked Secretary Perdue to develop a plan to provide monetary compensation to farmers who may be hurt by retaliatory measures China may take in response to proposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. While the ask was made for monetary compensation, an emphasis was made to the Secretary that farmers would first and foremost like access to markets, not checks from the government in lieu of trade opportunities.

“Wisconsin Farm Bureau has been a long-time supporter of open markets and fair trade because our farmers can and should be able to compete in a global market place,” said Holte.

The May 30 event was held to continue to promote the need for fair trade and to give farmers a chance to talk with media representatives about why they need access to global markets.

More information on the co-hosts:

Farmers for Free Trade informs the public about the benefits of free trade and mobilizes farmers and ranchers to take action to support beneficial trade agreements. Farmers for Free Trade is supported by thousands of farmers and agricultural businesses as well as numerous U.S. ag organizations, including American Farm Bureau Federation.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. Made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus, it represents agriculturists and farms of every size, commodity and management style.

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Denmark Student Wins Ag in the Classroom Essay Contest https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/denmark-student-wins-ag-in-the-classroom-essay-contest/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/denmark-student-wins-ag-in-the-classroom-essay-contest/#respond Tue, 29 May 2018 20:31:57 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32778 Isaiah Claussen, a fourth-grade student from Denmark, is the state winner of the Ag in the Classroom Essay Contest. Wisconsin fourth and fifth graders were asked to write a 100-to-300-word essay with the theme, “Inventions that made agriculture great.” Isaiah is the son of Josh and Ashley Claussen and Erica Haffner. Meagan Towle is his […]

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Erica Haffner, Isaiah Claussen and Josh Claussen

Isaiah Claussen, a fourth-grade student from Denmark, is the state winner of the Ag in the Classroom Essay Contest. Wisconsin fourth and fifth graders were asked to write a 100-to-300-word essay with the theme, “Inventions that made agriculture great.”

Isaiah is the son of Josh and Ashley Claussen and Erica Haffner. Meagan Towle is his teacher at Denmark Elementary School in Brown County.

Each year the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program hosts an essay contest revolving around food and agriculture. This contest is open to all fourth and fifth grade students across the state.

A total of 2,564 students wrote essays for the competition, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation and We Energies.

The finalist from each of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s nine districts across the state received a certificate, educational resources for their teacher and presentation about Wisconsin agriculture for their class. This year’s finalists were:

District 1: Kyla Weber, Allenton Elementary, Washington County

District 2: Andrew Harms, Watertown Catholic School-St. Henry, Dodge County

District 3: Roen Carey, Mineral Point Elementary, Iowa County

District 4: Brinna Goplin, Whitehall Elementary, Trempealeau County

District 5: Dylan Thomas, Omro Elementary, Winnebago County

District 6: Isaiah Claussen, Denmark Elementary, Brown County *State Winner*

District 7: Olivia Bowers, St. Martin Lutheran School, Waupaca County

District 8: Logan Welsh, Multum Non Multa Academy, Taylor County

District 9: Ellie Schiszik, Elk Mound Elementary, Dunn County

 

Isaiah’s Winning Essay:

 Inventions that have made agriculture great

 By Isaiah Claussen

Denmark Elementary

Holy smokes, did you see that tractor? It has no cab and no one driving it! I’m a dairy farmer and I know a lot about tractors, but this is new to me. I would like to tell you a little about how tractors have advanced.

 Back in my great-great grandma’s time, all chores and field work was done with horses and tillage equipment. Horses were great companions and did lots of hard work, even the best took a lot of time and weren’t very efficient. Farmers thought there must be a better way.

 In 1892, a man named John Froelich created the first gasoline tractor in Clayton County, Iowa, that moved forward and backward. This gas powered machine was one big advancement in agriculture, saving farmers working hours. This resulted in faster and easier harvest time, leaving farmers more time with their families!

 The inventors didn’t stop there! They continued to advance the now more commonly known tractors with amenities such as: enclosed cabs, heat, air conditioning and even radios. Now, horses didn’t have such advancements and they were being phased out of the farm. I know my great-great grandma was sad when the horses were sold to buy a tractor, but I think she was very thankful for all the time that this new machine saved on her farm!

 As tractors continued to unfold, we’ve rapidly progressed in technology! Today we have tractors that are driven by the push of a button. GPS-driven tractors look like something straight out of Star-Trek, they’re programmed to follow specific coordinates for the most accurate planting and harvesting known to farming. Now we don’t have any self-driving tractors on our farm and I really like horses, but we are thankful for our tractors that make our chores a whole lot easier.

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Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Program Hosts Summer Trainings https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wisconsin-ag-in-the-classroom-program-hosts-summer-trainings/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/wisconsin-ag-in-the-classroom-program-hosts-summer-trainings/#respond Tue, 29 May 2018 18:42:27 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=32774 Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom is hosting several trainings for teachers and volunteers. Attendees will learn to incorporate agricultural concepts into their curricula, network with fellow educators and obtain free resources for students and classrooms. Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas including home school parents and volunteers are encouraged to attend.    Bus […]

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Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom is hosting several trainings for teachers and volunteers. Attendees will learn to incorporate agricultural concepts into their curricula, network with fellow educators and obtain free resources for students and classrooms. Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas including home school parents and volunteers are encouraged to attend.  

 Bus Tour

July 24-25

Arcadia Area

Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom is hosting a Bus Tour in the Arcadia area July 24-25. The cost is $50 and opportunities for credit will be offered.

Tour stops include: Pilgrim’s Pride; Compeer Financial; Buck Country Grain; Arcadia High School Agriculture Department; Ecker’s Apple Orchard; Suncrest Gardens Farm; Northern Family Farms, LLP; Superior Fish/Freshwater Family Farm; Harvest Home Farm and AMPI.

This annual tour is perfect for teachers of all grade levels and subject areas, Ag in the Classroom volunteers, UW-Extension and 4-H staff and leaders and others who want to learn about Wisconsin agriculture. The tour is limited to 50 participants. The registration deadline is July 1.

One-Day Training Sessions

Tuesday, June 19 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

UW Madison Biotechnology Center

Participants will hear from Tom Zinnen, UW-Extension biotechnology policy and outreach specialist, as he leads a workshop on biotechnology. Tours will be offered on the UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences campus. Stops include Babcock Hall, the Dairy Cattle Center, the Meats Lab and Bucky’s Butchery and the Allen Centennial Gardens. The registration deadline is June 1.

Wednesday, June 20 – 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

West Madison Research Station, Madison

This one-day training will provide an overview of the resources available through Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom, National Ag in the Classroom, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and our commodity partners. The registration deadline is June 1.

Soybean Science Kit Training

Monday, July 16 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Comfort Suites, Portage

At this training participants will learn how to organize, manage, promote and use Soybean Science Kits. Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board has sponsored 74 kits for teachers, volunteers and county programs to use. The registration deadline is July 1.

For more information any of these training opportunities, contact the Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Coordinator at 608.828.5644 or darneson@wfbf.com. To register for any of these events, visit wisagclassroom.org and click on the ‘What’s New’ icon.

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