Mike and his wife, Judy, both grew up on dairy farms and attended Colby High School. After Mike finished technical school, they ventured to Appleton to find jobs. Not liking city life, they eventually moved to a more rural area in Black Creek. With a new home and a desire to raise livestock, Mike became interested in hogs.
“I started with two sows,” he said, “and I just learned as I went.”
Over the years, Mike grew his farm to 50 sows. He sells about 1,000 animals annually, half of which are feeder and market hogs. The others are sold as show projects to 4-H and FFA members.
Since retiring nearly three years ago from Thrivent Financial in Appleton, Mike has more time to spend with his hogs. He also has more time to dedicate to the Wisconsin Pork Association (WPA) and his leadership involvements with Farm Bureau. Currently, Mike is a member of the WFBF’s Institute leadership training class.
“The (Institute) has taught me how to hold an organized meeting, work with the media, improve my communication skills and be an advocate for Farm Bureau,” Mike said.
For many years, the Salters have operated a direct sales program in Outagamie County, where Farm Bureau members can order a variety of fruit and nuts three times a year.
They also help organize the Outagamie County Farm Bureau’s cream puff sale at Appleton’s Octoberfest celebration. Since Mike originally told his county Farm Bureau about this opportunity, the event has evolved into the group’s largest annual fundraiser.
“We usually have two mixers going at a time, mixing real cream because everything is homemade,” he said. “I enjoy it all; it is fun, interesting and you get to socialize.”
Mike recalls his first experience with Farm Bureau, “A neighbor was going to a meeting and asked if I wanted to go, and I said sure, and that’s how it all got started.”
As president, after serving on the board for more than 20 years, Mike says his goal is to recruit younger members. He would like to see Outagamie County become more involved with the Young Farmer and Agriculturists (YFA) program.
Another reason Mike stays involved in organizations like the Farm Bureau and WPA is because they both benefit agriculture. He appreciates the efforts made to coordinate between agricultural organizations. Mike said Ag Day at the Capitol is an example of different organizations coming together for one cause: agriculture.
Mike has plans to stay involved, “The way I look at it, someone has to help keep the public informed. You can’t just sit here.”
Story by Amy Manske. Original version appeared in the October/November 2012 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.