Tell us about your farm:
Lloyd and I have been farming for 31 years near Watertown. We operate Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC and have two younger partners, Tim Strobel and Jordan Matthews. We milk 800 cows and crop 1,400 acres of silage corn, alfalfa and some grasses. We have a staff of 20 people. Our two daughters, Lauren and Taylor, attend UW-Madison and are members of collegiate Farm Bureau on campus. We have one dog, numerous cats and five chickens.
What is a ‘normal’ day for you?
I head to the farm about 6 a.m. We four partners usually meet informally early each day to map out the activities for the day and week ahead. I do quality control around the entire farmstead and enter calf data in the computer. I check in at the calf barn and help where needed. Then I head to my office to do paperwork, or I may be off to a meeting. I am currently updating our Standard Operating Procedures for safety.
When did you decide you needed to advocate for agriculture?
I have a degree in agricultural journalism and the desire to communicate is innate in me. My first ‘job’ was as Green County Dairy Queen. Then it was Wisconsin Angus Angel. Both prompted me to speak up on behalf of the agriculture industry. I loved it! So now, we virtually never say no to a farm tour, be it a group of farmers from overseas, or a girl scout troop.
How much time do you spend on social media?
I may spend 10 minutes a day on Facebook and a little more when I post photos or videos on our farm’s page. Occasionally, I write a short blog (a mini editorial) which may take several hours. I also monitor what is being said by others online and then post some comments that balance online conversations. We must be a part of the dialogue!
What have you learned that surprises you about today’s consumer?
There are many serious “foodies” out there; and then there are some consumers who only want the best food value. I believe it is really a mixed bag of what consumers want and there is room for everyone selling something to be in the marketplace.
What is one easy thing that farmers and agriculturists could start doing to help agriculture’s cause?
Speak up when you see or hear incorrect or misleading information. Position it like this: “ I DO know this is how we do it on OUR farm…” You do not have to defend anyone else, and you do not have to discredit the source. I think we all have a lot more in common than we realize. Speaking up may be a letter to the editor, a chat on the bleachers at a school event or a radio show call-in.
Original version appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.