Thinking back almost 50 years I can still remember my mom having to make pies for the county Farm Bureau food stand. Seemed like it was 4-5 per family maybe. Mom enjoyed making the pies and the fair goers always enjoyed the huge variety of home made pies to choose from . Today, the pies are bought from a grocery store bakery, while they are still tasty, they are not made by the many families throughout the county .
Another great memory of mine back in the late 1970’s when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, was the Farm Bureau Christmas party. Boy, That was so much fun! Santa would come and we would play basketball in this huge gym. I looked forward to this party for many years, but as I got older, I realized the gym was actually pretty small, and Santa was just one of the board members.
Moving ahead to 2003 I joined the Farm Bureau board as the young farmer chairman. Back then we would have a float in 5-6 parades and hand out individually wrapped pieces of cheese. We never had enough cheese, most parades we were out shortly after the halfway point. But the people sure loved it. Others caught on and started handing out cheese as well. Back then, Wisconsin Farm Bureau would award counties for outstanding Young Farmer programs. We were selected several years in a row, and my wife and I went to Washington, D.C. On the Young Farmer Fly-In. Wow, what an eye opener to visit our senators and representatives in D.C. and see what Farm Bureau is doing for its members, and how much Farm Bureau is respected and thought of as a leading farm organization.
After chairing the Young Farmers a few years, we had two kids and I got on the church board of elders. Seemed like I was going to meetings all the time so my wife said, “you need to be home more especially now while the kids are small”. So I gave up the Farm Bureau board and stayed on the church board of elders.
By 2013 I was asked to be Church president and was elected to lead my church. In 2014 I was voted to serve on the county Farm Bureau board again. In 2016 I graduated from the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute. Since 2017 I have been President of the Green Lake County Farm Bureau. The Leadership Institute has been so helpful in making great leaders in Farm Bureau and our rural communities!
What I am trying to get at is Farm Bureau hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. Farm Bureau has changed with the times, but it’s still the strong voice locally, in Madison and Washington. That is so respected, that often times our elected officials will ask us “so what does Farm Bureau think?” . Farm Bureau has added many new programs and has increased membership by moving the annual meeting to a family friendly place. By doing so we are getting a lot more youth involved and turning them into the leaders of the future!
Happy Centennial Wisconsin Farm Bureau!
Pete Badtke is a dairy farmer from Ripon, Wisconsin where he milks 90 cows and runs about 300 acres of land. Pete started farming in 1987. He has been married for 18 years to his wife Lori and has 2 daughters, Kasie (16) and Sarah (15). Pete has served as Green Lake County Farm Bureau president since 2017 and as chairman of Calvary Lutheran Church in Princeton.