Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation https://wfbf.com A Voice for Farmers. A Vision for Agriculture.® Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:42:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://wfbf.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/cropped-fb-32x32.jpg Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation https://wfbf.com 32 32 Wiedenbeck Reflects on AFBF Women’s Communications Boot Camp https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/wiedenbeck-reflects-on-afbf-womens-communications-boot-camp/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/wiedenbeck-reflects-on-afbf-womens-communications-boot-camp/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 17:20:18 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33487 Sometimes it isn’t easy taking time away from home.  It can get discouraging to continue to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you in order to avoid any criticism.  However, the consequence of giving up on life-changing experiences is NEVER worth it because life is just too short.  No matter how much stress […]

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Sometimes it isn’t easy taking time away from home.  It can get discouraging to continue to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you in order to avoid any criticism.  However, the consequence of giving up on life-changing experiences is NEVER worth it because life is just too short.  No matter how much stress it may take to prepare for your journey, you always come home with a special gift that you never had before.  My gift at the end of July was going out to Washington, D.C. and meeting 15 of the most amazing women in this country.  Not only did they share my passion for agriculture, but they also shared my commitment to growing personally and professionally to better our futures. 

On July 23-25, I participated in the Women’s Communications Boot Camp put on by the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Women’s Committee.  After meeting the class and hearing of all their accomplishments, I thought to myself, “I don’t even compare to these ladies.”  Yet, they are the ones who boosted me up right away and helped convince me that I, too, deserved to be there.  After having a brief introduction dinner and beautiful night tour of the historical monuments, we jumped right into doing our presentation speeches the next morning.  It was interesting to hear different perspectives on agricultural issues that other states are dealing with.  Talking in front of a crowd is one area that I definitely do not excel in, but I am determined to improve on my public speaking skills.  I’m the kind of person that people throw bananas at on stage, so you can imagine now how that first speech went for me.   

Following our presentations, we took an in-depth look at public speaking and covered topics of content, messaging and delivery dynamics.  Questions we were challenged to ask ourselves included, “Will your message matter tomorrow for your audience as they begin their day?  What emotion do you want your audience to feel?” Then media training was covered, giving us tips on hitting our key message using tag lines or 7-second sound bites.  That prepped us for day two, where we participated in print, radio and television interviews and were forced to step out of our comfort zones.  For those who aren’t used to working with the media, it can be fascinating to see yourself on camera with the lights rolling and how you react to questions on the spot. 

Before we headed to Capitol Hill to meet with our legislators, we gained more information on farm policy, regulatory reform and trade issues.  We also learned about social media advocacy and how to have successful congressional visits.  I have been to Capitol Hill in the past, but it was a new experience meeting with staffers one-on-one versus in a group setting. I enjoyed sharing my personal connection to issues and addressing concerns that Wisconsin farmers may be facing. 

Finally, we began our third day with a message from AFBF President Zippy Duvall who read, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries (1 Cor: 16:9).” This means that wonderful opportunities to do great work present themselves every day, but there are always people who will be against you.  Then, the group finished the class by giving our final presentations and I was very proud of how far everyone had come.  It really brightened my day when many of the ladies congratulated me on improving, and one saying she had a ‘proud mom’ moment watching me speak. 

They say a missed opportunity is worse than defeat, and I know this group of women that I met left me with a sense of confidence that I didn’t have before because they believed in me more than I believed in myself.  Flipping fear into curiosity is a gift and that I got to bring back to Wisconsin, along with a family and a fan club that I wouldn’t have had without this experience.  I am very grateful for my job letting me partake in this opportunity and I would recommend the Women’s Communications Boot Camp to anyone!  I am always willing to answer questions, so don’t be afraid to contact me.


Tammy Wiedenbeck

Tammy Wiedenbeck is a Farm Bureau member from District 3 and is currently serving on the State Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee. She works for Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association and runs Riverview Photography on the side. She also helps manage 110 head of beef cows at Riverview Farms with her brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Stacy and parents, Dick and Rhonda.

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Volunteers for Agriculture® Endorses Gov. Walker https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorses-gov-walker/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorses-gov-walker/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 18:11:51 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33484 The Volunteers for Agriculture® Committee has given Governor Scott Walker its endorsement. The VFA® Committee is made up of 18 farmers appointed by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors.  “Governor Walker consistently listens to the agricultural community,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. “He recognizes the intense challenges our farmers face. In […]

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The Volunteers for Agriculture® Committee has given Governor Scott Walker its endorsement. The VFA® Committee is made up of 18 farmers appointed by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors. 

“Governor Walker consistently listens to the agricultural community,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. “He recognizes the intense challenges our farmers face. In this time of low commodity prices, he placed key stakeholders on the Governor’s Dairy Task Force 2.0 and tasked them to come up with viable solutions to help dairy farmers.”

Governor Walker’s endorsement comes from signing several initiatives that Farm Bureau supported, including:

  • High capacity well legislation to provide regulatory certainty for farmers in the repair, replacement, reconstruction or transfer of a well
  • Implements of Husbandry 2.0 and 3.0
  • Creation of a $14 million broadband expansion grant program
  • Legalization of industrial hemp
  • Creation of a producer-led watershed grant program funded at $750,000 per year
  • Comprehensive wetland reforms so farmers have greater flexibility with “artificial” wetlands
  • Creation of an assistance program to get veterans engaged in agriculture
  • Major reform of aquaculture regulations to make Wisconsin competitive with other states
  • Allowance of manure piping in right-of-ways to alleviate wear and tear on roads
  • Roundabout design reforms implemented to account for the size of agricultural vehicles
  • Expanded the fall harvest road weight exemption from August 1 to December 31
  • Maintained state budget monies for nonpoint source abatement and cost-sharing
  • Complete restructuring of ACM and ACCP to modernize the fee and license structure for pesticides, fertilizers, soil or plant additives and inspections
  • Modernized the Agricultural Producer Security program to bring it in line with current practices
  • Implementation of NR 151 targeted performance standards to address groundwater contamination
  • Updated adverse possession law (squatter’s rights) so state and local governments cannot claim adverse possession of private property
  • Implemented the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit which is an income tax credit that may be claimed against a farmer’s personal state income tax rate
  • Investment by the State Building Commission of $5 million for the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center

In his second term, Governor Walker appointed farmer Cris Peterson to the UW Board of Regents and Sheila Harsdorf as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Former state representative and farmer Keith Ripp also joined DATCP as Assistant Deputy Secretary.

“Under Governor Walker’s leadership, Wisconsin agriculture has accomplished many things,” Holte added. “Our VFA Committee, led by farmers, endorsed Governor Walker because he respects rural communities and will help the agricultural industry grow.”

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See the Value in Voting https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/see-the-value-in-voting/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/see-the-value-in-voting/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 20:07:46 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33474 Throughout the years, I have seen quite a few elections. I won’t admit to how many, but I will reminisce on the election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. I somehow knew it would be in history books for years to come. Gerald Ford narrowly beat Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination but then became […]

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Throughout the years, I have seen quite a few elections. I won’t admit to how many, but I will reminisce on the election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. I somehow knew it would be in history books for years to come. Gerald Ford narrowly beat Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination but then became the only sitting president and vice president never elected to either position.

Once again, we are coming up to an election, but I’m sure you couldn’t tell, could you? Advertisements back-to-back on TV, radio and the internet make it hard to forget.

November 6 seems far away but as the campaigns rev up, you’ll wish it was closer. I dislike the mud-slinging part of politics. I am a firm believer in when you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I’ve been on the ballot before when running for school board and I know firsthand what the pressure is like to put yourself out there for your peers to review. It’s not easy.

I remember being thankful for the people who supported me whether I knew them personally or not. It’s hard to gain trust with a large audience in the small amount of time in an election season. Heck, it’s hard to gain trust anytime.

I want to remind you this election season that the people listed on the ballot are just that: people. They started in politics most-likely for the same reason I did: to make a difference in their community.

It’s hard to see past a pointed campaign ad but do your best to remember there are two sides to every story. Research from a variety of sources can help you decide on the candidate who should earn your vote. Pick the candidate who is best for you and your family and use your voting voice.

If you want to vote for the best candidate for agriculture, consider the candidates that the Volunteers for Agriculture® Committee has selected for endorsements on page 6. These candidates listed have either been interviewed by farmers or have a track record of being supportive of farmers and rural communities.

The work you put in to elect officials is the first step in getting things done. If you believe that your current officials are doing a good job, reward them by voting for them. If you are displeased, find the candidate who might be a better fit. It might take a few minutes of research, but I can assure you that if you take the time to fully participate, you will be pleased that you did.

We have many local elections that are drawing national attention, along with three major elections on the ballot in November: Governor, U.S. Senate and Attorney General. The next group of leaders for our state depends on you.

To register or to find out if you are registered, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-US/RegisterToVote. You are going to want to participate in this election because it could be one for the history books.

Much like Farm Bureau lets your voice be heard through our grassroots policy development process, our constitution gives us the power to elect our leaders. Take advantage of this opportunity and find the value in voting on November 6.

This column was originally published in the 2018 October-November issue of Rural Route.


Jim Holte

Jim Holte was elected president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation in 2012. He was elected to the WFBF Board of Directors in 1995. He represents District 9 which consists of the Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer and St. Croix county Farm Bureaus as well as the Superior Shores County Farm Bureau (made up of Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Iron counties). Jim was elected to the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors in January of 2015 as a representative of the Midwest region. Jim grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa on 460 acres of land south of Elk Mound. He also raises beef steers. He and his wife, Gayle, have two children and five grandchildren.

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Shifting Perceptions Increases Need for Local Efforts https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/shifting-perceptions-increases-need-for-local-efforts/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/shifting-perceptions-increases-need-for-local-efforts/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:57:12 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33470 I have an old poster in my shop that reads, ‘Farming. Now that’s a noble profession.’ While I love that poster, every time I see it I can’t help but think how times have changed since I got it about 15 years ago. Even if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to pick up on […]

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I have an old poster in my shop that reads, ‘Farming. Now that’s a noble profession.’ While I love that poster, every time I see it I can’t help but think how times have changed since I got it about 15 years ago.

Even if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to pick up on the shift in support for agriculture. The days of trusting that farmers are doing the right thing without question are gone. It’s not just the news media or social media, one can pick up the vibe at local government meetings. The change isn’t just perception. It’s taking legs as anti-agriculture policy and sentiment at the grassroots level – in our townships and counties – and it’s moving fast.

This trend is even more reason for us to not only be watching what’s going on locally, but also maintaining and building relationships with our community decisionmakers. We need to be a part of the conversations related to agriculture and rural issues – we can’t count on leadership or staff from state agriculture organizations. Not because they won’t back us, but because these are our local issues and our local voices have the most influence.

Keep it simple.

  • Watch what’s happening. Designate someone to scan county board of supervisors meeting agendas and relevant county committees, such as land and water and health and human services agendas. They are often online in advance of meetings. Our county live broadcasts and video archives meetings and has email notifications.
  • Establish a Local Affairs Committee. This committee can discuss issues and make recommendations on if and how your county Farm Bureau might respond. Using a committee also helps keep local Farm Bureau board meetings from being drawn out.
  • Move from ‘telling’ conversations. No one likes to be told what to do. When addressing concerns about local issues, have conversations and offer solutions from all sides. This approach not only keeps things friendly, but it also increases the potential to have your voice and input valued even more.
  • Keep it proactive. Approaching local affairs in a proactive manner versus reacting when there’s a problem keeps farmers and agriculturists at the table and viewed as a trusted resource. For example, when a concern arises locally, an elected official may reach out to get your perspective. Or, a fellow Farm Bureau member might be asked to serve on a local committee.

Strategies to build on.

  • If there are issues of concern being discussed at the county board of supervisors meetings, give input by sending an official letter to board members and/or give comments at the meeting during the public comments time (every meeting should have time designated for this).
  • Invite representatives from agencies or county departments to Farm Bureau board or general membership meetings to provide updates and have question and answer sessions.
  • Invite elected officials (state and county level) to your county Farm Bureau annual meeting.
  • Host farm tours for elected officials. Include candidates if it’s close to election season.
  • Local newspapers are often in search of local news. Write an editorial column, submit a letter to the editor or pitch an agricultural-related story.
  • Look for opportunities to invite decision makers to already organized events, such as farm field days or incorporate a special visit in conjunction, like an elected official tour the day before the local breakfast on the farm.
  • Attend listening sessions hosted by elected officials and government agencies to voice concerns or give input on relevant issues.
  • Institute real-time communication means with members. Use Facebook closed groups, email or other means to share when issues or concerns arise.
  • Run for your township or county board to represent rural and agricultural constituents. At one time it was common to see farmers in these local positions. Now, the presence of farmers on these boards is dwindling.
  • Use your resources: other county Farm Bureau members, WFBF Director of Local Affairs, district coordinators, the Promotion and Education Committee’s Playbook.

Farming is a noble profession and now more than ever getting involved in local affairs needs to be in the job description. To contact the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Director of Local Affairs, visit wfbf.com/policy/local-affairs.

This column originally appeared in the 2018 October-November issue of Rural Route.


Leslie Svacina

Leslie Svacina owns Cylon Rolling Acres, raising pastured meat goats in Western Wisconsin. Leslie has a de­gree in agri­cul­tural mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions from UW-River Falls, a mas­ter’s de­gree in agribusi­ness from Kansas State Univer­sity and a mas­ter’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion from UW-La Crosse. She is a past state FFA officer. She lives with her husband and son near Deer Park.

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My Dad’s Truck… https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/my-dads-truck/ https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/my-dads-truck/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:29:20 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33466 Recently, we put collector plates on my Dad’s 1990 Chevy three-quarter ton pickup truck. My dad bought his first new farm pickup truck in August of 1990 from Voegli Chevrolet in Monticello. It was a 1990 Cheyenne Fleetside Pickup, caramel brown and adobe gold with a saddle vinyl  bench seat, 4.3-liter V6 gas engine, and […]

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Recently, we put collector plates on my Dad’s 1990 Chevy three-quarter ton pickup truck.

My dad bought his first new farm pickup truck in August of 1990 from Voegli Chevrolet in Monticello. It was a 1990 Cheyenne Fleetside Pickup, caramel brown and adobe gold with a saddle vinyl  bench seat, 4.3-liter V6 gas engine, and five-speed manual transmission with overdrive.

The salesman was Dave Bollig. Dave still works at Voegli Chevrolet-Buick and remembers the sale because a few weeks after my Dad took delivery, Dave Dunn another farmer from Oregon, ordered the same truck after he saw my Dad driving his. Dave still farms in Oregon and has long since parted with his 1990 two-tone brown pickup truck.

From the original window sticker that is still in the glove compartment, the standard vehicle price was $12,334, the list price was $13,214 after the preferred equipment group savings that included $332 for preferred equipment group, $745 for manual transmission bonus; $289 for spare tire LT225/75R 16 D Steel Belt Blackwall; minus $36 for auxiliary lighting. The destination charge was $560. Estimated city miles per gallon was 17, estimated highway miles per gallon was 24.

Dad most likely paid cash because that was what Dad did.

My parents were Farm Bureau members and had Rural Mutual Insurance. The original Family Auto Policy #B08304874 is still in the glove compartment, too.

As my Dad got older and when we eventually needed to take the keys, he told us that he sometimes planned his route into town by only taking right-hand turns so that he didn’t have to cross traffic.

My Dad died in 2005 and when my brother sold my Dad’s truck from the estate, I couldn’t contain my excitement. My Dad’s truck.

At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with our three boys and doing some freelance writing and editing. I also made pies and biscotti for a local restaurant. I asked my brother if I could make monthly payments. He agreed.

For about a year, the funds I earned from baking pies and biscotti were directed to pay for my Dad’s truck.

The boys weren’t close to driving age but I imagined that one of them might think it was really cool to drive his Grandpa’s pickup truck, but in reality, with the 4.3-liter engine and a 34-gallon fuel tank, paying for gas would have quickly emptied a pocket book and the five speed on the floor probably wasn’t the favored type of transmission.

I remember the first time the boys rode in the truck they wondered how the windows went down. They thought the cassette player was interesting. And really, only an AM radio? Some of Dad’s cassettes are still in the glove compartment including ‘News from Lake Wobegon’ by Garrison Keillor, Fall and Spring Stories from the Collection. The fact that the clock always reads 1:oo, which is about the time that Dad would drive into Oregon to see my mom when she was in an assisted living facility, is interesting. Don’t ask about the air conditioning, rolling down the windows was not what the boys expected for an answer.

Often times the boys would say that my Dad’s truck needed to be washed inside because it smelled weird. It still has a faint smell that I associate with my Dad, a combination of Old Spice — when there wasn’t time to take a shower before he drove into town — and dairy farm. I know it’s weird but now I love that smell.

When I purchased my Dad’s truck on September 15, 2006, it had about 33,000 miles on the odometer. Now it has 51,115.4.

A few weeks ago, I drove my Dad’s truck to work at Farm Bureau in Madison. I love driving a manual transmission except for steep hill stops. I, similar to my Dad, planned my trip to avoid certain hill stops, but not left-hand turns.

It’s still and always will be my Dad’s truck, parked in our garage. Now it’s a collector. It’s priceless.


Marian Viney

MarianViney

Marian Viney is a member of the public relations team with Wisconsin Farm Bureau. She is an active member in her community serving in a variety of roles on the school board, within her church and other organizations. Marian and her husband, Doug, live in Belleville with their two sons, Michael and Benjamin. There oldest son is attending graduate school in Jena, Germany.

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Volunteers for Agriculture® Endorses Attorney General Brad Schimel https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorses-attorney-general-brad-schimel/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorses-attorney-general-brad-schimel/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:42:27 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33462 The Volunteers for Agriculture® Committee has endorsed Brad Schimel for Attorney General in the November 6 election. VFA is the political action arm of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “Brad Schimel’s adherence to the rule of law is the predominant reason why the Volunteers for Agriculture is supporting his re-election,” said Doug Rebout, a Rock […]

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The Volunteers for Agriculture® Committee has endorsed Brad Schimel for Attorney General in the November 6 election. VFA is the political action arm of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

“Brad Schimel’s adherence to the rule of law is the predominant reason why the Volunteers for Agriculture is supporting his re-election,” said Doug Rebout, a Rock County dairy and grain farmer and chair of the VFA committee.

“His understanding and reasoning as to why bureaucrats are not in charge of writing laws, but rather the legislature, is welcomed throughout the agricultural community,” added Rebout. “His legal opinions and actions provide the clarity and certainty that farmers need in challenging times.”

Formed to give farmers a direct role in electing leaders with agriculture’s best interests in mind, the Volunteers for Agriculture Committee is made up of 18 farmers appointed by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors.

“Equally important, he has reached out and sought our opinion on agricultural issues that have been, or may be, headed to the courts,” said Rebout. “Wisconsin Farm Bureau disagreed this year with the Department of Justice on the legality of hemp-derived cannabidiol, but Attorney General Schimel was willing to listen and resolve the issue. He continuously keeps an open mind on issues critically important to the agricultural community and that is why the committee is supporting Brad Schimel for Attorney General.”   

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Why Engaging on Social Media Actually Matters https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/why-engaging-on-social-media-actually-matters/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-involvement/why-engaging-on-social-media-actually-matters/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:33:19 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33447 How many times have you been scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and read a post or article that you agreed with, but just kept scrolling without dropping a like, share or comment? If you’re anything like me, probably hundreds of times each week. Once I started managing social media channels, I discovered that I am […]

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How many times have you been scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and read a post or article that you agreed with, but just kept scrolling without dropping a like, share or comment?

If you’re anything like me, probably hundreds of times each week. Once I started managing social media channels, I discovered that I am any social media managers worst nightmare.

I am active on social channels and often see things from friends or businesses that I “like” in my mind, but never give it the official blue thumbs up. I just assumed it didn’t really matter if I followed through on showing the rest of the social media universe that I like something.

Then I started noticing that I wasn’t seeing posts from some of the pages that I enjoyed the most. Why? Because the Facebook algorithm thinks it knows what I want to see, and it tried to weed out everything that I wasn’t engaging with and only show me posts from people and pages that it thought I engaged with the most.

You can help combat this in a simple way, engage with posts on pages like Wisconsin Farm Bureau. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm weights different types of engagement in different ways. For example, a “Like” is assigned a small amount of value, because it is an action that has little depth. A comment shows that you are really interested in the topic and want to share your opinion, so that has a greater value assigned to it. A share is given the highest value because it shows that a user thinks the information is so important that all their friends should see it as well.

You may be realizing that it is important to be engaged on social media from a personal standpoint, so you can keep seeing the people and pages that you like most, but it is also important to be engaged as a Farm Bureau member.

Because you decided to read this blog, you more than likely have, at least, a slight interest in agriculture. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Facebook page is loaded with great information about current events in the agriculture community, updates on WFBF projects and initiatives and shareable resources to help spread accurate agricultural information across social channels.

I’m sure many of you have seen a post about food or farming on Facebook that was inaccurate or flat out misleading. As people involved in agriculture, we need to be controlling, or at least contributing to, the conversations about our livelihood.

I have seen numerous agricultural organizations share pro-ag messages with negative comments to follow and not a single person will engage those folks in a conversation. You have the power to make a big difference. People want to hear from farmers and agriculturists because they trust another person, but it is more difficult to trust an organization that may appear to have an agenda. Your voice really matters.

Never underestimate the power you, as a single user, have on social channels. You don’t have to share every update you come across but challenge yourself to share or comment on more ag-related content. It can sometimes seem like the world of social media is filled with Negative Nellys, so let’s spread a little more positivity.

Bonus Tip: You can opt to see posts from Wisconsin Farm Bureau first in your newsfeed by going to the WFBF Facebook page, hovering over “Following” under the cover photo and selecting “see first”.


Sarah (Marketon) Hetke

Sarah (Marketon) Hetke serves as the Director of Communication for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. She is passionate about answering consumers’ questions about how food is raised and encouraging farmers to engage in those conversations.

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Meet: Gary and Lynda Bula https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-gary-and-lynda-bula/ https://wfbf.com/member-profiles/meet-gary-and-lynda-bula/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 19:57:20 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33423 One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, Four – Bulas Have Grown Potatoes for Nearly Five Decades Adams County Farm Bureau members Lynda and Gary Bula, owners of Gary Bula Farms, Inc., grow 4,500 acres of potatoes, sweet corn, green beans, peas, alfalfa, soybeans and field corn. They also grow 2,500 acres of potatoes, canola, field corn, […]

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One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, Four – Bulas Have Grown Potatoes for Nearly Five Decades

Adams County Farm Bureau members Lynda and Gary Bula, owners of Gary Bula Farms, Inc., grow 4,500 acres of potatoes, sweet corn, green beans, peas, alfalfa, soybeans and field corn. They also grow 2,500 acres of potatoes, canola, field corn, soybeans, milo and sunflowers on their farm in Benton, Missouri.

With rising input costs, decreasing labor availability and increased regulation in the potato and vegetable industry, Lynda and Gary Bula see the necessity in diversifying the crops they grow while reducing their impact on the environment.

Gary and Lynda held some of their red potatoes grown for Alsum.

“In Wisconsin, we grow about 850 acres of potatoes, about half are used for frozen products, a quarter for chips and a quarter for the home table and restaurant market,” explained Gary, who grew up in Antigo and is a third-generation potato grower. Gary is related to Raymond Bula who worked for NASA and the University of Wisconsin Biotron Laboratory along with astronaut John Glenn to put potatoes in space.

In Missouri, the Bulas grow about 500 acres of potatoes, two-thirds are used for chips and one-third is used for potato salad or other potato products. The remaining 2,000 acres are dedicated to grain crops, which provide the rotational acres.

Lynda keeps detailed financial records and tracks vegetable and potato sales for both farms.

“In Wisconsin, some of the potato varieties that we grow include: Russet Burbank, Goldrush, Yukon Gold, Sierra Gold, Snowden, Superior, Atlantic, MegaChip, Red Norland and others, each with different qualities to serve the end product,” said Lynda, who also grew up in Antigo. “In Missouri, we grow mostly Atlantic, MegaChip, Red Norland and Snowden for chips.”

Wisconsin’s mild climate and sandy soil make it a perfect place to grow many potato varieties. For this reason, Wisconsin produces more varieties than any other state.

“The sandy soil in Adams County, in combination with irrigation from the underground aquifer, make for good potato growing,” said Gary. “Potatoes are susceptible to diseases and stress, so the combination of irrigation and sandy soils allows us to manage those conditions.”

Lynda recalled that she wasn’t so sure about Gary on their first date when she learned that he was a potato farmer because of her family’s experience in growing potatoes and the work involved.

In the 1900s, potato growers built storage areas into the hillside so potatoes wouldn’t freeze. This hillside storage is located on the Bula farm.

“Maybe I listened to my grandma’s advice in trying new things,” laughed Lynda. “Gary and I are both community-minded and after 46 years, we work well together.”

She explained that the vegetables they grow for canning companies are part of their crop rotation plan along with silage corn, grain crops and alfalfa.

“As long as the end return on our products remains stable, we’ll continue to use vegetables and grain crops in the rotation,” added Lynda.

Gary appreciates that Lynda balances the family business with her financial and record keeping skills, and knowledge of working with employees and recording farm sales.

“Gary is the master of the crops and what they need,” said Lynda. “He’s proud of the quality crops that we grow and the quality products that the consumer buys.”

Family

Lynda and Gary enjoy collecting antique potato and vegetable planting equipment. Pictured is some of their collection.

The couple’s sons Bryan and Nathan are instrumental in helping Gary manage Gary Bula Farms, Inc., and employees. Bryan and his wife Lacey grow 220 acres of potatoes for the Little Potato Company, based in Edmonton, Canada, with a recently-opened production plant in DeForest and they raise 200 Black Angus cattle. Nathan grows potatoes for McCain Foods, which is based in New Brunswick, Canada, and his wife Michelle works in sales and design for WestRock, a packaging solution manufacturer.

The couple also has two daughters. Jodi works at the Marshfield Medical Clinic; and Tamra (husband Eric) Garz, works on the farm and is responsible for the Healthy Growing assessment and the state-required well reports. Jodi and Tamra also grow about 400 acres of grain crops.

When Lynda and Gary are less busy on the farm, they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren including Kortney, Kassie, Karly, Ayziah, Jaiden, Kera, Zoe, Grant and Tate.

Certification and Resources

As Wisconsin potato growers, the Bulas follow strict industry assessments and certification programs.

In celebrating their wedding anniversary, Lynda and Gary had potato chip bags printed with their wedding photo.

“In the mid-1990s, the idea of Healthy Grown potatoes was developed by a group of Wisconsin potato farmers,” explained Lynda. “The Integrated Pest Management farming practices offer common ground for growers, environmentalists and health-conscious consumers.”

The Healthy Grown Program was a collaborative effort by the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, World Wildlife Fund, UW and other conservation groups.

Another is the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit that focus on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in a safe manner to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. 

“We’ve been using these practices for years, and many buyers won’t buy products unless they are GAP certified,” added Lynda. “In this industry, it’s about food safety standards.”

The couple acknowledges another advantage of farming in Wisconsin is the access to research and development through the UW System and other resources to improve product quality and yields and decrease operation costs and focus on food safety.

“We work with staff at the UW Hancock Agricultural Research Station, which is home to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Storage Research Facility,” said Lynda. “And after having served on the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association’s board of directors, we have many resources through professional contacts.”

Community and Industry Involvement

The Bulas have been active Farm Bureau members for decades.

Lynda served on the Adams County Farm Bureau policy development committee and is a past board member and delegate to the WFBF Annual Meeting. She also served on the American Farm Bureau Fruit, Vegetable and Nuts Committee.

“I also served on the Adams County women’s committee and as a volunteer for Ag in the Classroom,” recalled Lynda.

Gary served as president of the Adams County Farm Bureau and as a delegate to the WFBF Annual Meeting and then he, “handed the gavel to Kay Olson-Martz.”

“They have both been very active in our Farm Bureau,” said Kay Olson-Martz, Adams County president, who joined in 1998, when Gary asked her to become a member. “Lynda and Gary help at the Farm Bureau booth during the Adams County Fair, and support youth at the livestock show, and the Young Farmer and Agriculturist members.”

In 1992, Lynda became the first woman to serve on the WPVGA Board of Directors, serving a total of 12 years; she served as chair of the Governmental Relations Committee; and as representative on the Special Work Group on Producer Security.

Lynda also served as secretary of the Adams County Economic Development Committee; chair of the Land Commission Committee of Newchester Township; on the Grand Marsh Area Development Board and Adams County Rural and Industrial Development Commission.

As long-time sponsors and volunteers for one of the largest one-day festivals in Wisconsin, Lynda and Gary along with friends and neighbors devote several weeks during the summer organizing and promoting Grand Marsh’s annual Corn ‘N Tater Festival.

“This summer, we held our 56th annual Corn ‘N Tater, and I’m proud to say it was a very successful event,” said Lynda. “We served between 2,600 and 3,600 and we had a lot of fun.”

Celebrating locally-grown commodities, the festival is named in the top 15 festivals in Wisconsin and features roast beef sandwiches, ‘all-you-can-eat’ baked potatoes and corn on the cob. Several local and popular bands play and other attractions include Magic Dave, a beer stand, the Famous Chicken Drop, BINGO, pan poker, children’s games and rides, a kiddie tractor pull, volleyball and horseshoe tournaments, a photo booth, crafts and flea market.

Future Plans

“Most of the potatoes grown in Wisconsin are grown on family farms,” said Gary. “We want to provide our children and grandchildren with the opportunity to care for our farms the way we have, to have the tools and resources to make better choices. That requires working with growers, researchers and partners, using new technologies and practices to grow food better and safer with a smaller footprint.”

The goal, he adds, is to grow food with less impact on the environment, “because we have a responsibility to leave this Earth the same or better than when we started farming it.”

“Eventually, we’d like our kids to take over the farms,” said Lynda. “And we are moving in that direction.”

Knowing the potato and vegetable markets and realizing the benefits of diversifying crops has helped the Bula family put America’s favorite vegetable on dinner plates for decades. With continued research, hard work and the next generation invested, they are prepared for many more.

Story and photos by Marian Viney. Original version appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.

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Celebrate National 4-H Week https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/33403/ https://wfbf.com/general-agriculture/33403/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 17:39:45 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33403 The 4-H Pledge I pledge my head to clearer thinking, My heart to greater loyalty, My hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world. One of my first memories as a Cloverbud is attending monthly club meetings with my older brother and learning […]

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The 4-H Pledge

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

One of my first memories as a Cloverbud is attending monthly club meetings with my older brother and learning to recite the 4-H pledge. After eleven years of being a 4-H member, I had the opportunity to learn valuable leadership skills and participate in numerous educational activities that have helped me become the adult I am today.

4-H started well over 100 years ago. In the late 1800’s it was discovered that adults engaged in farming did not want to accept and learn about new agricultural developments on university campuses. However, younger students were open to new thinking and would experiment with new ideas and share their experiences with adults.  The idea of practical “hands-on” learning came from the desire to connect public school education to country life. 

In 1902, A. B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio.  This was considered the birth of 4‑H in the U.S. The first clubs were called, “The Tomato Club” and the “Corn Growing Club”. After school clubs were started that same year by T.A. Erickson of Douglas County, Minnesota. A few years later in 1910 Jessie Field Shambaugh developed the clover pin with an H on each leaf, and by 1912 these groups were officially called 4‑H clubs.

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed, and it created the Cooperative Extension System at USDA and nationalized 4‑H. By 1924, 4‑H clubs were formed, and the clover emblem was adopted. The Cooperative Extension System is a partnership of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with more than 100 land-grant universities and more than 3,000 county offices across the nation.

Even though 4-H began with ties to agriculture. Today, 4-H is more than just a club for “farm kids”.  It is for both rural and urban students and reaches kids across the entire country – from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. With over 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 professionals, 4-H provides   supportive mentoring to 6 million members. This organization provides opportunities and skills that help members grow into future leaders that will serve in our local communities.

October 7 – 13 is National 4-H Week. Local clubs throughout the country will be planning a variety of events and activities to help promote 4-H and its programs. We have a strong 4-H program in Green Lake County with nine clubs located through the county. To find out more about the Green Lake County 4-H program check out their website at: https://greenlake.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/

It has been over twenty years since I graduated from 4-H. However, I still attend monthly meetings. Now I serve as one our club’s general leaders. I attend with my daughters and I enjoy watching them learn to recite the same pledge I learned many years ago, and I know this organization will provide unique and wonderful leadership opportunities for them. It’s rewarding to see the tradition and legacy of 4-H continue for years to come.


Becky Hibicki

wfb_becky_10Becky Hibicki serves as the District 5 Coordinator for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. Becky is active in the Green Lake County 4-H program and serves as the general leader for the Three Hilltoppers 4-H Club and is a large animal livestock project leader. In addition to working full-time for WFBF, Becky also home schools her children.

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Volunteers for Agriculture® Endorse Barbara Dittrich for Assembly District 38 https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorse-barbara-dittrich-for-assembly-district-38/ https://wfbf.com/farm-bureau-news/volunteers-for-agriculture-endorse-barbara-dittrich-for-assembly-district-38/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:07:28 +0000 https://wfbf.com/?p=33389 Barbara Dittrich of Oconomowoc has been endorsed by the Volunteers for Agriculture (VFA) Committee for the 38th Assembly District. VFA is the political action arm of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “Barbara Dittrich was clear in her support for use value assessment, Right to Farm and livestock siting, three key areas our farmers look for […]

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Barbara Dittrich of Oconomowoc has been endorsed by the Volunteers for Agriculture (VFA) Committee for the 38th Assembly District. VFA is the political action arm of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

“Barbara Dittrich was clear in her support for use value assessment, Right to Farm and livestock siting, three key areas our farmers look for continued support,” Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Senior Director of Governmental Relations Rob Richard said. “Barbara recognizes farms for what they are – family owned businesses trying to survive tough economic times and overreaching regulation can severely hamper their success.”

The 38th Assembly District includes portions of Dane, Jefferson and Waukesha counties. Dittrich is a Republican seeking an open seat.

“Farmers in the 38th Assembly District will be well served by electing Barbara Dittrich,” said Richard.   

The Volunteers for Agriculture Committee is comprised of 18 farmers from across the state and was formed to give farmers a more direct role in electing leaders who best represent agriculture’s interests. 

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