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december | january 2016-2017 • vol. 22 no. 6 |


Annual Meeting



December 2-5, 2016

Annual Meeting Highlights Pages 5-13

Today’s growers look to the cloud for more than just rain. Cloud-based computing is revolutionizing the way growers run their operations. The agronomy experts at FS are helping growers connect with next generation digital platforms that manage workflow, track assets and optimize productivity. What’s more, FS is partnering with leading technology providers to anticipate demands down the road, ensuring our customers are ready for what’s next. •

©2016 GROWMARK, Inc. A14173D

contents vol. 22 no. 6


5 8















WFBF Board

Holte re-elected. Radtke is new Vice President. Kuczer to lead District 7.


Delegates set policy directives for 2017.


Retired FS employee saluted for his commitment to ag.


Long-time St. Croix County leader receives highest membership honor.

YFA Awards

Marker, Brossard/Rens, Fiedler and Albers take home top prizes.


Waupaca dairy family receives 2016 Leopold Conservation Award.


Columns from Holte, Duvall, Richard, Langan and more.

Teacher OF THE year

Adams-Friendship teacher earns award for ag literacy.


WFBF Annual Meeting activities raise funds for Foundation.

Mini Grants

Foundation helps 15 teachers with ag literacy projects.

Rural Mutual

Things to consider during winter.

Cover Photo by Wood County Farm Bureau Member Brad Weber

stay connected


December | January 2016-2017


Rural Route wisconsin Farm bureau federation’s

Editor’s Note


t’s with a humble heart that I write my first editor’s note for the Rural Route. Flipping through this issue I am reminded that our organization is sewn together with some remarkable people. I see this magazine as our common ground; a philosophical meeting spot. It’s a place that our diverse membership can be informed of current happenings and rejoice in the accomplishments of individual members and the organization. Whether you read it online or wait patiently by the mailbox, Rural Route binds us together. Farm Bureau, at its heart, is the people, and you see that reflected in these pages. Whether it’s the staff members who supply content for the magazine or the members who are featured, Rural Route is a team effort. Looking through the photos from our recent Annual Meeting and Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference, it’s commendable to see more than 1,000 Farm Bureau members of all ages and agricultural connections participating in this tradition. It’s hard not to be excited when looking at this year’s YFA and collegiate award winners on pages 10 and 11. These leaders make the future of Wisconsin agriculture and more specifically, Farm Bureau, look


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bright. We wish them well as they compete at the national level in the coming months. I am always amazed when I learn more about our Distinguished Service award winners. This year’s recipients are volunteers, ‘ag’vocates and leaders in their communities. Their accomplishments are admirable and they are truly examples to look up to for our younger members. You can read about them on pages 8 and 9. Looking ahead, I see Rural Route continuing to bring us together with a nice balance of stories from throughout the organization. I know it has become a staple piece in your mailboxes and I hope to not just meet but exceed your expectations as a reader. I’d be remised not to mention my former colleague Casey Langan. There is no one who put more time and effort into Rural Route. He molded it into the shape you see it today. I am proud to continue in his footsteps down the path he laid for this publication. On page 30, you’ll hear some final thoughts from Casey. I couldn’t let him get away without a final word. We wish him well in his new endeavor and thank him for the talents and stories he shared. For this farm-kid from Waupaca County, being the Rural Route editor is overwhelming and heartwarming. While I have helped with the magazine’s creation before, this issue has a deeper sense of accomplishment for me. I appreciate the support the Farm Bureau family has shown me in my new role. It’s an honor to work for Wisconsin Farm Bureau members, because as we know, Farm Bureau, at its heart, is the people. Thanks for taking the time to read. Amy Eckelberg Rural Route Editor Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation

Editor Amy Eckelberg 608.828.5706

Designer Lynn Siekmann 608.828.5707

Address of Publication Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation PO Box 5550 1241 John Q. Hammons Dr. Madison, WI 53705-0550 Postmaster: Send address changes to Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation PO Box 5550 Madison, WI 53705-0550

Contact Information 608.836.5575 800.261.FARM (3276)

WFBF Board of Directors Jim Holte, Elk Mound, (President) Don Radtke, Merrill, (Vice President) Dave Daniels, Union Grove Arch Morton Jr., Janesville Richard Gorder, Mineral Point Joe Bragger, Independence Kevin Krentz, Berlin Rosie Lisowe, Chilton Adam Kuczer, Pulaski Rosalie Geiger, Reedsville (Promotion and Education Committee Chair) Derek Husmoen, Galesville (YFA Committee Chair) Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route (ISSN 39940) (USPS 1082-1368), the official publication of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, is published six times per year in February/March, April/May, June/July, August/ September, October/November and December/ January. Subscription of $5 is included in Farm Bureau dues. Periodical postage is paid at Madison, Wisconsin. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without written consent. For advertising rates and information: Wisconsin accounts contact Slack Attack at 608.222.7630 or National accounts contact Casey McNeal at 800.798.2691 ext. 334 or For general inquiries, contact Amy Eckelberg at 608.828.5706 or

Wisconsin farm bureau federation


Holte Re-elected WFBF President Radtke new Vice President Kuczer replaces Staidl Husmoen to lead YFA


Nine of the 11 members of the WFBF board of directors are farmers elected in each of Farm Bureau’s nine districts. These nine individuals also make up the board of directors for the Rural Mutual Insurance Company. Rounding out the WFBF’s board are the chairs of WFBF’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee and WFBF’s Promotion and Education Committee, both of which serve a one-year term on the board. Rosalie Geiger of Reedsville in Manitowoc County was re-elected to a one-year term as the representative from the Promotion and Education Committee on the board. Derek Husmoen of Galesville in Trempealeau County was elected to a one-year term as chair of the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee and will serve as the representative on the board. He succeeds Derek Orth of Stitzer in Grant County. Wisconsin Farm Don Radtke Bureau Federation Board Directors who were not up for re-election are: Dave Daniels of Union Grove in Kenosha County; Arch Morton, Jr., of Janesville in Rock County; Richard Gorder, of Mineral Point in Iowa County; Joe Bragger of Independence in Buffalo County; Kevin Krentz of Berlin in Waushara County; and Rosie Lisowe of Chilton in Calumet County. Adam Kuczer

im Holte has been re-elected to a fifth one-year term as the President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Rural Mutual Insurance Company. He was also re-elected to a three-year term on the WFBF board representing District 9 (Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Iron, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer and St. Croix counties). Holte was first elected to the WFBF Board of Directors in 1995 and has served on the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 2015. Holte raises beef cattle and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa on 460 acres near Elk Mound in Dunn County. Holte and his wife Gayle have two children and five grandchildren. Don Radtke of Merrill in Marathon County was elected Vice President and re-elected to a three-year term on the board representing District 8 (Clark, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Price, Taylor and Wood counties). Adam Kuczer, a heifer raiser and crop farmer from Pulaski in Shawano County, was elected to a three-year term on the board representing District 7 (Langlade, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca Counties). He succeeds Wayne Staidl of Rosalie Geiger Peshtigo in Marinette County.

Derek Husmoen

December | January 2016-2017


Delegates Set Policy for 2017 F

arm Bureau delegates adopted the policies that will guide the legislative agenda for the state’s largest general farm organization in 2017. Resolutions were submitted by delegates as part of a grassroots policy development process. Recognizing the importance of natural resources and the environment, delegates opposed any type of blanket regulation that would encompass the entire state because of the variations in karst types throughout Wisconsin. Regulations should be specific to the unique areas affected. Delegates displayed frustration with the current federal Dairy Margin Protection Program. After considerable in-depth discussion, they concluded the need for an improved program


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Delegates at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells established new policy directives for the organization on Monday, December 5. leading up to the 2018 Farm Bill. Delegates supported an increase in the overall appropriation for the broadband grant program. They supported improving and upgrading the strength and reliability of coverage to enable efficient use of technology in farming practices in rural areas. Delegates supported disclosure of wolf incidents on farms in Wisconsin by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The public information should be located on the DNR website, establishing warning areas when wolf packs are involved and providing instant email notification of all incidents. In regards to livestock and animal welfare, delegates supported farmers in consultation with their veterinarians

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

deciding and administering husbandry practices that are appropriate for their farm. They also supported more education for consumers on the merits of common animal husbandry practices. In addition, delegates supported the use of scientifically proven technologies for agricultural production practices. Delegates from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s 61 county Farm Bureaus also voted to: • Support the state’s livestock premise registration program. • Support a process by which atrazine restricted areas can be repealed. • Support the state’s fence law. • Support the inclusion of wild parsnip on the state’s noxious weed list. • Support funding for the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. • Support DNR utilizing and implementing more technology for the wildlife abatement and claims program. • Clarifying WFBF’s policy position pertaining to foreign land ownership restrictions to also include foreign entities. On the federal level, delegates supported: • Improving milk quality by lowering the somatic cell count limit to 400,000. • The use of scientifically proven technologies for agricultural production practices. • Farmers in consultation with their veterinarians deciding and administering husbandry practices that are appropriate for the farm. • Requiring Congressional approval of any new federal regulation before final implementation. The federal resolutions will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration at its annual meeting in January.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s policy is established by farmers through a structured policy development process.

December | January 2016-2017



Sam Skemp Receives ‘Distinguished Service to Wisconsin Agriculture’ Award “Though now retired, his skills were critical in serving farmers and building strong relationships with Farm Bureau and agriculture statewide,” said WFBF President Jim Holte. As a life-long member of Farm Bureau, Skemp also is a proud supporter of Rural Mutual Insurance. He worked with Illinois and Wisconsin Farm Bureaus through his role at FS, and also dedicated time to the Dane County Farm Bureau. Skemp has previously traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and served as a delegate to the WFBF Annual Meeting.


am Skemp was presented the ‘Distinguished Service to Wisconsin Agriculture’ award for his outstanding contributions to Wisconsin’s agricultural industry during the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 4. A Wisconsin native, Skemp grew up on a dairy farm on St. Josephs Ridge by La Crosse. Skemp started working for the FS system as a dairy nutritionist in Coon Valley after earning a degree in automotive mechanics from Western Wisconsin Technical College. Skemp held several positions during his career with FS in Illinois and Wisconsin including branch manager, marketing manager, general manager and regional manager and finished his 43-year career as general manager of Frontier-Servco FS, now Insight FS. With Skemp’s management, Insight FS is positioned to be a leader in technology with updated equipment and facilities to ensure the cooperative will be there for the patrons for many years to come.


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He continues to judge discussion meets. “His commitment to the agriculture community was evident from the beginning and he quickly gained the trust of all who worked with him,” added Holte. “He is extremely deserving of this award.” Skemp and his wife, Julie, are the proud parents of six adult children and have 10 grandchildren.

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

St. Croix County’s Dave Kruschke Earns Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Highest Honor S

t. Croix County’s Dave Kruschke received the highest award Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation bestows upon its members. Kruschke was presented the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s ‘Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau’ award during the organization’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 4. Kruschke has been an active member of Farm Bureau for 33 years and served in key leadership roles at county and state levels. “Dave has dedicated countless hours to Farm Bureau during his years as St. Croix County Farm Bureau president and is a huge supporter of Farm Bureau’s efforts,” said WFBF President Jim Holte. “His leadership and experience are an asset to Farm Bureau and Wisconsin agriculture.” Kruschke assists with various St. Croix County Farm Bureau activities, including its fair food stand and Farm-City Day involvement. “Dave has provided excellent leadership for the county’s Farm-City Day, representing Farm Bureau on the planning committee and overseeing the event’s sanitation,” said Leslie Svacina, St. Croix County Farm Bureau vice president. “This year, Dave’s family farm hosted the event.” On the state level, Kruschke has served on several committees, including the Policy Development Committee, Dairy Committee and Bylaws Review Committee. He is a previous attendee of the Rural Mutual Insurance’s VIP Conference and has been recognized for his membership recruitment in the Producer’s Club, now known as the Farm Bureau Proud Club. Kruschke has served as the St. Croix County Farm Bureau delegate to the WFBF Annual Meeting for more than 30 years. He participates in district policy development meetings, Council of Presidents, Ag Day at the Capitol and has testified on behalf of numerous pro-agriculture efforts. Dave also is an ‘every year’ attendee at the WFBF Annual Meeting and American Farm Bureau Annual Convention. Kruschke farms near New Richmond with extended family members. Farming and Farm Bureau is a family affair for Kruschke. His uncle and grandfather were

charter members of the St. Croix County Farm Bureau. His father was serving in the Navy when the county Farm Bureau started so he was not able to be a charter member. “It is because of Dave’s selfless dedication to others and agriculture that Wisconsin Farm Bureau is proud to recognize his service,” Holte said. Kruschke is involved in his community, as a church member and serving on the board of trustees. He served on the Consolidated Energy Cooperative board of directors and as a member of the county Holstein Association.

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Outstanding Collegiate and Teresa Marker Receives Excellence in Agriculture Award

Excellence in Agriculture Award at the organization’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells, December 4. Marker grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Elk Mound. After high school, she pursued a degree in agricultural education with a minor in animal science from UW-River Falls. She works as a livestock nutritionist for Crystal Creek Natural, LLC, based out of Spooner. Marker serves on the Barron County Farm Bureau board of directors and was recently elected the Ag in the Classroom chair. Marker has served on the state YFA Committee and was the committee chair in 2013. She lives in Shell Lake with her husband Dustin and son Jared. Marker will compete in the national Excellence in Agriculture contest at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 98th Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. She will also be guest of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation at next year’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Marker also received a $250 FS Fast Stop gift card from GROWMARK, Inc., and will be a guest at its annual meeting in Chicago in August. She also qualifies for the YFA Washington, D.C., trip in 2018.


arron County’s Teresa Marker was selected as the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist (YFA)

The Excellence in Agriculture Award is given to a Farm Bureau member between the ages of 18 and 35 who is actively engaged in agriculture, but derives the majority of their income from an off-farm agricultural career. The winner is selected based on their knowledge of agriculture, leadership in Farm Bureau and other civic organizations.

Andrea Brossard and Mason Rens Earn Achievement Award


odge County’s Andrea Brossard and Mason Rens were selected as the winners of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist (YFA) Achievement Award at the organization’s 97th Annual Meeting on December 4. Andrea Brossard is a third-generation dairy farmer at Brossard Dairy Farm, LLC, her family’s farm, in Beaver Dam. The family milks 260 cows, raises 70-80 steers annually


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and grows 650 acres of crops. Mason Rens, originally from Waupun, is a water well driller for Municipal Well and Pump. The business specializes in drilling new wells for cities and industries, and rehabilitation and maintenance on existing wells throughout the Midwest. Brossard is the secretary and treasurer for Dodge County Farm Bureau and serves as the District 2 Representative on the WFBF Promotion and Education Committee. Brossard served as the state YFA Committee Chair in 2015 and is also a graduate of the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute. Married in 2013, the couple lives in Burnett. The couple will compete in the national Achievement Award contest at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 98th Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. They also qualify to attend a trip to Washington, D.C., in 2018. They will be a guest of Wisconsin Farm Bureau at next year’s YFA Conference, and of GROWMARK, Inc., at its annual meeting in Chicago in August, 2017. As Achievement Award winners, they will be provided a free financial plan from Rural Mutual Insurance Company and 40 hours use of a skid-steer loader from Fabick Cat. Farm Bureau’s Achievement Award is a contest that awards farmers between the ages of 18 and 35, who have excelled in their farming career, understand current issues affecting agriculture and have shown leadership and involvement in Farm Bureau and other civic organizations.

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

YFA Members Recognized Kristi Fiedler Tops YFA Discussion Meet


risti Fiedler of Shawano County was selected as the winner of the 2016 Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Agriculturist Discussion Meet at the organization’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 4. The Discussion Meet is a panel discussion in which Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are judged on their ability to express their ideas and opinions and reach a solution on current issues affecting agriculture. Fiedler is the associate vice president of U.S. Technical Services for Genex. She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from UW-Platteville and her master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix. She served on the state YFA Committee from 2013-15 with her husband, Brian. She lives in Cecil with Brian and their two children, Allyson and Hudson. Fiedler will compete in the national Discussion Meet contest at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 98th Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. She also qualifies for the YFA trip to Washington, D.C., in 2018. Fiedler received a free financial plan provided by Rural Mutual Insurance Company and a MS250 Stihl chainsaw. Fiedler will be a guest of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation at next year’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference and a special guest at the annual meeting of GROWMARK, Inc., in Chicago in August.

Other state finalists in the Discussion Meet were: Kallie Jo Kastenson of Racine County, Julie Sweney of Dodge County and Isaac Christenson of Polk County.

Sally Albers Wins Collegiate Discussion Meet


ally Albers was selected the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Collegiate Discussion Meet at the organization’s 97th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 4. Albers is an agricultural education major and biology education minor at UW-River Falls. The Collegiate Discussion Meet is a panel discussion in which collegiate Farm Bureau members are judged on their ability to lead a committee discussion on current issues affecting agriculture and to develop consensus on an action plan to effectively address issues. By participating, members build basic discussion skills, develop a keen understanding of important agricultural issues and explore how groups can pool knowledge to reach consensus and solve problems. Growing up in the Sauk Prairie area, Albers was involved with her family’s beef, hog and crop farm by caring for animals and harvesting crops. In high school, she started her own hog business consisting of raising six to eight pigs each year. Albers was active in FFA and served as the Wisconsin FFA President from 2015-16. Other finalists included Rachel Gerbitz and Mariah Martin Albers will represent Wisconsin in the national collegiate from UW-Madison, Gloria Kesler and Ben Roys from Discussion Meet at the American Farm Bureau’s FUSION UW-Platteville and Matt Kortbein from UW-River Falls. Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February. December | January 2016-2017




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Annual Meeting



December 2-5, 2016

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

Retiring District 7 Board member Wayne Staidl was presented with a Bonnie Mohr painting during the WFBF Annual Meeting.

December | January 2016-2017



Annual Meeting



December 2-5, 2016

#WFBFAM16 #FBProud

The social scene at this year’s event!

December | January 2016-2017



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December | January 2016-2017



Wisconsin Farm Bureau Membership Grows 2016 marked another year of membership growth for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. WFBF ended its membership year in September with 46,149 members, an increase of 473 compared to the prior year. This was WFBF’s ninth straight year of membership growth.


Superior Shores Iron Ashland Sawyer Price Polk


St. Croix

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Taylor Chippewa



Marathon Eau Claire





arm Bureau membership is comprised of voting and associate members. Voting members are farmers, people with direct involvement in production agriculture, and owners of agricultural property. Associate members are individuals and businesses who join Farm Bureau to utilize services and benefits and to support the work of the organization. WFBF’s voting membership grew by 91 members this year, reaching 24,312 voting members, while the associate member total grew by 382 members to 21,837. Thirty-eight of the 61 county Farm Bureaus reported an increase in voting members. The largest increases came in La Crosse, Jackson, Dane and Sauk counties. With a renewal rate of more than 92 percent for voting members, combined with 1,884 new voting members, the Farm Bureau achieved an increase in voting members for the tenth time in the last 13 years. In terms of total membership, 40 county Farm


(Douglas, Bayfield, Iron, Ashland)


Clark Portage



Brown Waupaca



Manitowoc Calumet

Adams Monroe

Both Voting and Total Gain Voting Gain Only Total Gain Only



Waushara La Crosse



Winnebago Marquette Green Lake


Fond du Lac


Vernon Crawford




Washington Dodge Ozaukee

No Gains Iowa





Grant Lafayette

Bureaus saw increases in 2016. “Membership growth is always a top priority for Farm Bureau,” said Bob Leege, WFBF’s Executive Director of Member Relations. “Without membership growth, no Farm Bureau program can be successful in the long term. This year our volunteer efforts were outstanding, with nearly 300 Farm Bureau volunteers signing 894 new members into the organization.” “WFBF has a long and successful record of representing members on key




Racine Kenosha

issues,” Leege added. “By providing a voice for Wisconsin farmers and offering a number of other valuable member benefits and programs, Farm Bureau membership pays for itself in a variety of ways.”

on the web Learn more about membership and benefits at

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

Membership Workers Join Farm Bureau Proud Club W

isconsin Farm Bureau wrapped up another successful membership year on September 30, reaching a gain in membership for the ninth consecutive year. This accomplishment was made possible in large part due to the work of a dedicated group of volunteer membership workers who invited their friends and neighbors to join the organization in 2016.


“It’s easy to be committed to Farm Bureau membership when you believe strongly in the organization. It’s also enjoyable and rewarding to go out on membership drives and network with a variety of Farm Bureau members throughout the county.” – Al Klapoetke, Marquette County

For more than 30 years, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation has honored volunteer membership workers who sign at least five new members during the membership year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.

Formerly known as the Producer Club, the group took on a new name in 2016 – the Farm Bureau Proud Club – but it’s mission hasn’t changed. “These members take a lot of pride in bringing new faces into our organization and helping to build Farm Bureau’s influence,” said Bob Leege, WFBF’s Executive Director of Member Relations. “This was a particularly outstanding membership year in terms of our volunteer efforts, with nearly 900 new members joining Farm Bureau


because they were invited to do so by a membership volunteer.” In 2016, 83 Farm Bureau volunteers from 39 counties earned Farm Bureau Proud Club status. Once again, Fond du Lac County membership chair Trayton Greenfield led the way with 40 new members signed. Other top membership workers included Mark Zimmermann (15 new members), Jillian Beaty (14), Cal Dalton (11), Al Klapoetke (11), Mike Duerst (11), Randy Wokatsch (10), Dean Bergseng (10), Michael Berg (9) and John Krings (9). “Beyond the feeling of accomplishing something important - which I feel bringing in new members is - I enjoy talking with people. There is always something to be learned from others that I can apply to my life.” – Randy Wokatsch, Marathon County

December | January 2016-2017



Counties Recognized for Outstanding Programs and Events T

he Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation annually recognizes county Farm Bureaus that conduct outstanding programs or events to promote agriculture, build membership, and strengthen the organization. During the WFBF Annual Meeting, eight county Farm Bureaus were presented with 2016 County Activities of Excellence Awards. County Farm Bureaus chosen for recognition and their outstanding areas of work include: • Buffalo County for hosting it’s ‘Winter Farm Forum,’ an event designed to bring farmers together to discuss conservation efforts, learn about winter manure spreading and to share information on DATCP Farmer-Led Watershed grants. • Marathon County for organizing and hosting an informational meeting for farmers to make them aware of the opportunity to assist local municipalities through the development and

implementation of a phosphorus trading program. • Brown County for organizing a field trip for middle school students to explain the origin of various pizza ingredients and to expose them to agricultural careers. • Dodge County for its annual Farm-City Day that brings more than 250 fourth graders to the farm for a day. • Iowa County for its ‘Growing the Future of Agriculture Program,’ a series of projects that helped expose more than 500 area youth to agriculture and its importance in their lives. • Shawano County for organizing the annual Shawano County Brunch on the Farm event, which utilizes more than 200 volunteers to feed nearly 4,000 people each June. • Marathon County for conducting the District 8 YFA Farm and

Brown County at WFBF Annual Meeting


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Industry Tours, an educational and networking event for 40 area young farmers and agriculturists. • Trempealeau County for organizing ‘Girls Day Out,’ a bus tour to highlight Trempealeau County agriculture and to focus on women serving in agricultural leadership roles within the county. Shawano Brunch on the Farm

Marathon YFA Tour

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

Brooks Farms Named 2016 Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award® Recipient


and County Foundation, “The Wisconsin Farm Wisconsin Farm Bureau Bureau Federation is proud Federation, Wisconsin Milk to recognize them for their Marketing Board and the outstanding conservation Wisconsin Land and Water efforts.” Conservation Association “Wisconsin’s dairy farmers are proud to announce are proud to have one of Brooks Farms as the recipient their own receiving this of Wisconsin’s Leopold prestigious award – a symbol Conservation Award®. The of the conservation work award honors Wisconsin being done by farmers every landowner achievement in day,” said Wisconsin Milk voluntary stewardship and Marketing Board Senior management of natural Vice President of Corporate resources. The announcement Communications Patrick was made during the Geoghegan. November 17 meeting of Given in honor of (L-R) Sand County Foundation President Kevin McAleese, Ron Brooks, Zoey Brooks and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department renowned conservationist Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel. of Agriculture, Trade and Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Consumer Protection Board Conservation Award in Madison. recognizes extraordinary Brooks Farms is a 1,600achievement in voluntary acre, vertically integrated dairy conservation. It inspires and crop farm in Waupaca other landowners through owned and managed by Ron these examples and provides Brooks and his daughters a visible forum where Zoey, Syndey, Alyssa and farmers, ranchers and other Kelsey. The dairy is currently private landowners are undergoing a significant recognized as conservation expansion, from 250 cows leaders. In his influential to 650, with plans to expand 1949 book, A Sand County more in the future. Their herd Almanac, Leopold called expansion will allow them to for an ethical relationship take advantage of economy of between people and the land scale, giving them the ability they own and manage, which to invest in manure separation he called “an evolutionary and a wastewater treatment possibility and an ecological The Brooks family accepted the award at the WFBF Annual Meeting. plant. necessity.” Depending on the year and weather conditions, 70 to 80 The award was presented December 4, at the Wisconsin percent of their cropland is no-till. The cropland undergoes Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells. a 10-year crop rotation between oats, alfalfa, corn, soybeans The Brooks family received a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold and wheat. Throughout the 10-year rotation, the fields are and $10,000. only tilled twice with heavy consideration of slope and erosion The Leopold Conservation Award in Wisconsin is made potential. Earthworms thrive in their reduced tillage fields, possible through the generous support of the Wisconsin indicating a healthy soil biosphere and creating channels to Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, allow for the infiltration of water. Badgerland Financial, Alliant Energy Foundation, American “Brooks Farms is an excellent representative of the farms Transmission Company, USDA NRCS and Wisconsin Land across Wisconsin that care for land and natural resources and Water Conservation Association. through proper conservation,” said WFBF President Jim Holte. Visit for more information. December | January 2016-2017


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Members qualify for a variety of discounts on new purchases. Visit to print your certificate and for details on models and discounts. Farm Bureau members who are agricultural producers and patrons of their local FS cooperative are eligible to receive patronage when patronage is paid.

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To help members and to show our appreciation, we’re offering a $500 private offer 1 toward the purchase or lease of most 2016 and 2017 Chevrolet vehicles.

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1 Offer available through 5/31/17. Available on most 2016 and 2017 Chevrolet vehicles. Excludes 2016 Equinox L, Colorado 2SA and Spark EV; 2016 Malibu and Traverse L models, Cruze Limited L, Spark, SS and City Express, and 2016 Chevrolet Cruze L model. This offer is not available with some other offers. Only customers who have been active members of an eligible Farm Bureau for a minimum of 30 days will be eligible to receive a certificate. Customers can obtain certificates at Farm Bureau and the FB logo are registered service marks of the American Farm Bureau Federation and are used herein under license by General Motors.















Ringing in the New Year A Message from Jim Holte


ach year around January 1, many people make plans to work out more, complain less or read more books. While the resolution of getting more exercise doesn’t always last throughout the whole year, you can be sure Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s ‘resolutions’ will. Here are some initiatives we are focusing on in 2017 and beyond. Transportation: Farmers and agribusinesses need reliable roads to get their products to market. For too long we have been borrowing funds at unsustainable levels to maintain and build roads. While this was in recognition of financial challenges, no longer can that be an option. We will be looking for solutions to this problem. High Capacity Wells: No matter the size of your farm, a variety of tools are needed to ensure your success. It’s


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common sense that to raise livestock and grow crops you need water. All farmers should be able to have access to the tools they need to run a business no matter their size. One thing is for sure. A clear, reliable process for permitting high capacity wells need to be in place for farms of all sizes, so we can continue to do our job of growing food for our communities. We are working collaboratively with other ag groups on this matter. Farmer-led Water Quality Discussions: Following on the theme of water, farmers have a long-term commitment to the quality of water. Farmers live on the land that is their livelihood. It’s encouraging to see farmerled watershed projects form and joint community efforts building across the state towards the cause of water quality. I encourage you to get involved in your area of the state and be part of the conversation surrounding water quality as these groups take shape. Local Affairs: If there was ever a time to reach out to your town and county boards, it’s now. In a time that local groups and government are suggesting bans on various agricultural practices, we need more feet on the ground. Farmers must reach out to local officials and become a resource on these matters. Nothing is more devastating than to hear about bans and new regulations last minute. By staying involved at the local level you can be the first line of defense for our leadership when farming topics arise. We will help garnish these conversations.

2018 Farm Bill: We know that the last farm bill was crafted during a time of strong prices but that is not true today. We truly need to think strategically so we give farmers the tools they need to manage the highs and lows that come along with farming. Please know that we are part of these initial discussions where we will be sharing the needs of our membership. Immigration: With the new PresidentElect, we will also be keeping a close eye on the immigration discussions happening in Washington. We will continue to advocate for an ag visa worker program that works for dairy farmers. Membership: Our policy objectives are important but membership also has to be a priority in our organization, because that is how we sustain ourselves. You will be hearing more about the 2x4 member campaign in the coming months. This campaign challenges each of us to sign two new Farm Bureau members by the end of March 2017. Hundreds of members across the state have already taken the challenge. If we all took time to sign two members, think about the growth we could have. I challenge you to take part. I will be. As 2017 knocks at 2016’s door, you can be sure that your organization is working hard for you. Happy New Year to you and your family! President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation

since 2012, Holte is a grain and beef farmer from Elk Mound.

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Farmers and Ranchers Make their Voices Heard A Message from Zippy Duvall


s the dust settles on a long election season, now is the time for the real work of addressing the critical issues facing America’s rural communities. Our elections are decided by those who show up, and that’s just what rural Americans did. As we move forward, we expect the new administration and Congress to support the rural Americans who supported them. Farmers, ranchers and rural business owners deserve a seat at the table when it comes to shaping policy that impacts our livelihoods and our way of life. I’m proud of how seriously our grassroots members take their civic responsibility. That duty doesn’t just fall on Election Day. We must hold our elected leaders accountable to make good on their promises to agriculture and rural America. The communities of America’s heartland aren’t just stops on a campaign tour: they are the backbone of our economy. President-elect Trump has promised a pro-farmer administration, and Farm Bureau will hold him to that. America’s farmers and ranchers have made great strides in our sustainability thanks to hard work and innovation. We need our elected leaders to recognize the value of tools like economies of scale and biotechnology, and then to lead the way

in setting policies that promote science and common sense. We need regulatory and tax reforms that address the unique challenges of agriculture. Farmers and ranchers take great care to preserve their land and protect their businesses for future generations, but regulatory overreach, like EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, threatens to stamp out our ability to produce. We need to protect natural resources, but that work is done best by the people who know the land, not bureaucrats thousands of miles away. And we need to ensure our farm and ranch families can pass their operations on to the next generation, without having to sell assets that are critical to the farm just to pay the tax bill. Too many problems still hang in political limbo. Agriculture faces a real labor crisis, but we can have meaningful reform only if we come together to address the need for both a workable visa system and a secure border. “American farmers are the best in the world at growing food and other products that people need to flourish,” Presidentelect Trump said. We couldn’t agree more. We will work with his administration and Congress on issues like the farm bill, energy and trade to boost American agriculture and increase access to American-grown food, fuel and fiber. Our elected leaders come at these

issues with different points of view, but they all have one thing in common. Each ran on a platform to make America better and improve this country for all of us. That same unity of purpose drives us at Farm Bureau. We can learn from each other as we respect our differences. No matter what we raise or how we do it, we must work together to protect our farms and strengthen our rural communities. President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Duvall raises beef cattle, hay and poultry in Greshamville, Georgia.

December | January 2016-2017



Nobody Cares How Long We’ve Been Farming A Guest Column from Nancy Kavazanjian


y farm celebrates 150 years of continuous ownership by my husband’s family this year for which we’ll be recognized and fêted along with a slew of other Sesquicentennial and Century Farm honorees at the Wisconsin State Fair this August. Big deal. That’s what you’d say if you’ve been following our USFRA consumer research. Much as we love to tout our multigenerational agricultural heritage, we know these statistics don’t resonate with today’s consumers. In fact, USFRA research tells us that this message, along with those messages touting safe, affordable and nutritious food, may even work against us as we seek to relate our messages of care for the environment and


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continuous improvement to an ever more skeptical consumer audience. What does resonate with today’s general consumers, our research shows, is looking ahead to the future and sharing our story of environmental commitment through dialogue. We’re not simply telling our story either. First we must acknowledge their questions and concerns then follow that the best we can with first-hand examples of how we’re working to protect the environment – the soil, water, air and habitat – on our farms and ranches all in the name of sustainability. So when someone compliments me on our farm’s longevity, I tell them our farm doesn’t look anything like it did 150 years ago when German immigrants Joseph and Francizka Hammer bought the place. It doesn’t even look like it did 36 years ago when I married Charles Hammer and became part of the farm. Instead, I talk about our love for the land and how we’re working to make our soil ever more productive in the hopes that our grandchildren might someday farm it. I point out that we haven’t plowed a field in 28 years, but instead have worked to improve drainage, perfected conservation tillage methods and planted cover crops to protect our soils from wind and water erosion. I discuss how we’ve planted trees, prairie grass, duck scrapes, woodpecker and pollinator habitat to improve our community; how even while we’ve preserve the original homestead,

we’ve also build a new, more energy efficient home along with large sheds to house our large, fuel efficient equipment, big grain bins to store our crops, wind turbines and solar systems to power our operation. That we’re always looking for new ways to grow crops more efficiently because it’s as good for our business as it is for their food. That’s continuous improvement and that’s something to celebrate! Finally, I invite people to our farm to see for themselves what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s my hope that connecting with people whenever possible will build the type of trust we need to advance modern agriculture. I hope you’re doing this too. This isn’t something we can delegate to a public relations firm or slick advertising campaign. We need everyone involved with today’s agriculture to step up, engage, acknowledge and share personal messages of sustainability if we’re ever to earn back consumer trust in modern farming and ranching. Now, about that Sesquicentennial Farm Award program, did I mention free breakfast and fair entry is included (“only four family members – no exceptions”) along with a free parking pass? Kavazanjian is the Immediate Past Chairman for

the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and a Dodge County Farm Bureau member.

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Speaking a Little Louder to Food Companies A Message from Shiloh Perry


ood companies and retailers face tremendous pressure to respond to consumer expectations on issues like animal care, environmental protection and the healthfulness and safety of products. Farmers understand this because they too face tremendous pressure to meet the same consumer expectations. In fact, agriculture has always adapted in response to market preferences. The remarkable growth in organic agricultural production shows that farmers and ranchers will grow what consumers are willing to pay for, especially if it helps them become more profitable. Companies often make quick decisions to differentiate their brands and products without fully evaluating the impacts of their policy changes. Often they put out announcements about changing their production practices—changes that might not take effect for many years but provide an immediate halo effect—after sales fall or when trying to overcome a public relations crisis concerning their products or practices. This happens more and more these days now that agricultural policy is being made by unelected corporate executives as much as it is by our unproductive Congress. Of course companies listen to their customers, but they also need to think about their suppliers and the impact of their decisions. Too often the direction a company takes is based on misinformation and a broad misunderstanding of agriculture. The results: corporate sourcing standards that insist farmers and ranchers raise their crops and animals in ways that are less efficient, possibly less humane, and definitely less sustainable.

A recent example is Dannon’s move to non-GMO feed for its dairy cows. The company’s efforts were part of a commitment to sustainability, but the impact was a broad-based move away from biotechnology—meaning lower crop yields, more tilling of the soil and more use of insecticides and stronger herbicides than the ones widely used by farmers today. This amounts to less sustainability, not more. Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups tried to meet with Dannon to help the company’s executives avoid making a mistake and understand why walking away from modern agricultural technology is not good for the company or its customers. We were turned down, so the groups sent Dannon a letter. “Under the guise of providing consumers more choices,” the groups wrote, “your pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture.” Dannon is not the first or only company to make such announcements without fully evaluating the impacts. Too many companies have barreled forward, rather than listening to farmers and ranchers who could have helped them make better decisions. Now agriculture is speaking up and explaining our narrative. The voice of agriculture is being heard. We are engaging with food companies to help them see all of the on-the-ground consequences. When they do not listen, as with Dannon, we call out their actions for what they are. Often their actions are simply based on “fear-based marketing.”

Farmers and ranchers have a great story to tell on sustainability. The technologies we use are tested and proven safe and beneficial for farm productivity and the environment. The Field to Market survey shows the improvements farmers have achieved. From 1980 to 2011, U.S. rice production grew more than 50 percent, even as irrigation water used per acre dropped 25 percent. Cotton production had similar growth, while 46 percent less water for irrigation was used. The survey also shows similar results for soybeans and corn. It is time for more food companies and their customers to hear about those results and learn about the true sustainability of modern agriculture. When the Dannons of the corporate world do not listen, we turn up the volume. Perry is a communications assistant at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

December | January 2016-2017



Predicting a Potential Trump Trend Guest Column by AgriVisor’s Joe Camp


here has been much written about resurging populism and wrong pollsters since the outcome of our 2016 presidential election. For whatever reasons and by however much surprise, an administration led by Donald Trump will be in control at the start of the new calendar year. Consider the impacts that a new government may have on our industry. Pro-growth Fiscal Policy Commodity markets will be influenced by inflation expectations that are shifting in anticipation of fresh fiscal policy guidance. The president-elect campaigned on promises that government spending would be redirected toward projects that would spur economic growth and therefore potentially pressure prices higher. Rising inflation would be likely to support commodity markets as capital rotates into the commodity space to provide investors with a hedge against rising prices elsewhere. Rising inflation may also cap further gains for the dollar


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after a strengthening currency had been a headwind for the commodity space. Much talked about during the campaign was Trump’s plan to rebuild the country’s aging infrastructure. Tax cuts and hiring incentives for companies involved in the repair of U.S. roads, bridges and waterways would add to other costs that could together approach $1 trillion over the next decade. Aside from the price-positive effect that follows from the demand for commodities needed for infrastructure rebuilding, the product of improved infrastructure would be expected to add efficiency to the transportation of commodities and lend advantage to our commodity export programs. Relaxed Regulatory Policy Investors have so far applauded what they perceive to be a shift in approach regarding regulation. After stock futures took a sharp plunge late on election night, they reversed course and ended Wednesday’s session higher, led by bank and healthcare shares – companies that stand to benefit from relaxed market regulation. The Trump administration will shape its regulatory regime in part through the appointment of agency leaders at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The SEC has two commissioner seats vacant with the remaining three seats to have their terms expire while President Trump is in office. Crucial for all markets will be the SEC’s and CFTC’s enforcement of the various rules prescribed by the Dodd-Frank Act, which the incoming president has vowed to dismantle.

Protectionist Trade Policy A third major market impact of a Trump victory will involve the new administration’s stance on trade. Rhetoric has not been friendly toward the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Agriculture has plenty at stake with NAFTA and TPP trade pacts on the line. A disassembling of NAFTA could stress relations with our biggest corn buyer south of the border. Scrapping TPP is sure to impact affairs with our Pacific Rim trading partners and is also likely to affect dealings with our biggest soybean buyer – China. Traders Vote With Their Dollars President-elect Trump and a host of newly-elected public officials across the country will impact our financial markets in three key areas: the state of the economy and its determinants of marketinfluencing facets like interest, inflation and currency rates; the regulation that governs market participation and the relationships with our trading partners that demand our commodities. Look out for a few market shocks to follow from an altered political economy environment – both positive and negative. Investors will be sure to make their satisfaction and displeasure known as they react to changes that are to come from a new government making policy in the months and years ahead. The big vote may be over with, but the unceasing selection of the market’s winners and losers continues. Camp is the Risk Management Specialist for AgriVisor, one of WFBF’s member benefits.

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Skid Steer Question Brings a Load of Uncertainty A Message from Rob Richard


ver since I started working at Wisconsin Farm Bureau in 2014, Implements of Husbandry (IOH) legislation has been my priority. Even though this issue has quieted down during the last few months, I still receive many questions from Farm Bureau members regarding vehicle weights, licensing and registration, hauling permits, statutory interpretations, etc. Recently, I was contacted by a member who told me someone was stopped by law enforcement in his area for driving a skid steer on the road. I was asked if driving a skid steer on a road was legal or not and this caught me off guard. Why wouldn’t it be legal? It’s common knowledge in the ag community that the skid steers are a staple on a farm and are being driven on roads around the state on a daily basis. When the IOH debate first kicked up in 2012 so many farmers were surprised to learn that weight limits that applied to all other vehicles on the road also applied to farm machinery. It’s not the simple lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of enforcement over many decades that made most people generally unaware of the law. I see the skid steer situation in a similar light. There is no definition of ‘skid steer’ in Wisconsin statutes, nor is there a definition of ‘construction equipment.’ Skid steers do not fall under the definition of implements of husbandry.

There is a definition for ‘road machinery,’ found in WI Stats 340.01(52), and most construction-type equipment falls under this definition and statutes allow for this equipment to be driven on the road with proper lighting and marking; however, there was no clarity on where skid steers fall within the statutes. After working with the Department of Transportation Secretary’s staff, and with some very helpful insight from the state patrol, it was ultimately determined that skid steers fall under the road machinery definition and therefore can be legally operated on a roadway. This is the clarity we need for farmers around the state. In light of a recent and tragic accident involving a skid steer on the road, I ask that you take the necessary steps to make any short trip you that take on the road with a skid steer a safe, and legal, one. • Make sure you have a new and/or clean retroreflective SMV sign on the rear at all times. • When driving during hours of darkness, make sure white lights are activated on the front and red tail lamps are activated on the rear (use magnetic, battery-powered red lamps if necessary). In addition, use of red retroreflective tape can be used as an extra precaution. • Although not required by law, a yellow/amber beacon or strobe light placed near the top of the vehicle can be very noticeable to other drivers. • Follow the Rules of the Road and

please use extreme caution and common sense. I know we will continue to have these odds and ends pop up in regards to IOH, and I encourage Farm Bureau members to contact me. It’s important that we find answers to these tough questions. I don’t have to remind you that many times you’re sharing the road with distracted drivers so it’s incumbent on you to go above and beyond when it comes to lighting and marking. It may cost of few extra bucks, but in the end, nothing matters more than making it home at the end of your day. Richard is WFBF’s Senior Director of Governmental Relations.

December | January 2016-2017




Guest Column by Casey Langan


wo days after October’s Rural Route went to print I decided the next chapter of my career would be as the communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. I’ve mulled what to say in this column ever since. I will miss the creative process of guiding Rural Route from start to finish. When writing columns I like to ‘put a bow on it’ by having the ending reference the beginning.


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In that spirit, the inspiration for my last Rural Route column is its first cover from the fall of 2010. What to put on the cover was always a struggle, but never more so than that first one. After discussion and negotiation with my superiors, we chose a generic, purchased photo of a path running through a field. In the years since, I never thought much about that cover photo. That is, until now. I’ve done a lot of thinking about paths lately. How lucky I am that my nine years with Farm Bureau led a path to farms across our beautiful state, not to mention trips to the Alamo, White House and Berlin Wall. Farm Bureau gave me a platform to share my opinions that were meant to educate, promote, inspire and sometimes provoke on a bumper crop of topics. Yet it’s the people I met along that nine-year path that made the biggest impact. Farm Bureau members and staff made impressions on my life as deep as a tractor on a muddy field. I saw a part of my younger self in the FFA members I met through Farm

Bureau, full of big dreams but not a clue where my path was going to lead. I advised many of them that their professional and personal paths would be uniquely their own. That can mean taking them in different directions from the friends they’ve grown comfortable with. It’s advice I’ve rediscovered for myself. Today, many of my work meetings are held in a room that overlooks the grounds of the Dane County Fair and World Dairy Expo. A place where I’ve developed as a 4-H and FFA member, to a farm reporter, to a Farm Bureau employee. I’ve put on many literal and figurative miles since I first brought a Holstein calf to Madison in 1984. For all its twists and turns, my path has brought me across the street. It’s taught me not to worry so much about where my path goes from here. I have faith that my path will bring me back to the agricultural community someday, and for many of you reading this, I hope our paths cross again. Langan worked for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau from November 2007 to October 2016.

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Up the Creek A column by Ken M. Blomberg

TRACKS IN THE SNOW track in the snow tells no lies. That fact was evident on a recent trek along the creek and after a fresh snowfall. It all began when the boss spotted a lone tom turkey out the kitchen window. Through the spotting scope I saw his enormous beard, dangling in the snow. He pecked his way slowly along the edge of our food plot, where it joins the banks of a frozen pond. His presence and a fresh snowfall lured me outside despite the bitter cold wind out of the north. I followed his tracks and surveyed the virgin blanket of snow up and down the creek. At first, I crossed the path of a pair of foxes, able to stroll atop the harden layer of snow that measured 11 inches on the level. With a crust at two inches below the surface, their light weight – 10 pounds, give or take a few – allowed for smooth sailing as they hunted for their next meal. They lingered a while under our little red pine plantation, a place where rabbit tracks abound. With nothing but footprints to sniff, they took to the creek bottom and headed west Then I met the tracks of turkeys – by my count, four individual birds – on their way from feeding in the neighbor’s picked cornfield to an acorn crop and evening roost in the woods. The lone tom that we saw earlier had split off from the group,


only to meet up later the trail along the creek. After crossing the creek near our line fence, an abundance of deer tracks appeared in stark contrast to their absence in our fields. Fifty yards into the woods, I came face-to-face to a large doe and her triplet fawns. Were they the same family group we observed all summer long in our food plot? If so, that answered the question of survival during the recent deer hunt. I carried a camera instead of a gun that day, hanging up my urge to shoot a doe during the late season. Just as well – pulling the trigger would have tested my will to shoot a doe this late in the year. After all, we already had enough venison in the freezer. I passed by as our four deer stood frozen in their tracks, akin to concrete yard statues, never taking their eyes off my progress. Then, in an instance, a small buck materialized out of nowhere, jumping over the trail near the southeast corner of the forty, disappearing into the neighboring woods faster than he appeared. His tracks in the snow painted a picture of flight, the distance between hoof prints measured in yards rather than feet or inches. Turning to the north, then west, I crossed paths with a set of tracks left by a ruffed grouse. A loner in the pines, never on the ground longer than five or six feet, then taking flight to low branches bearing buds, a winter staple of grouse diet. Then suddenly, any sign of his whereabouts disappeared. Where did he go? It was late in the afternoon when I emerged from the woods on the blacktopped road that borders the west side of our property. As I passed by a stand of hemlocks, I gazed towards the upper branches and there he was my roosting grouse, silhouetted against the fading light. Tracks in the snow tell no lies but convey a good story to those who take the time to read them. Blomberg is a freelance writer and a member of the Portage County Farm Bureau.

December | January 2016-2017


Ag in the classroom

Adams-Friendship Teacher Recognized for Ag Literacy Work H eather Grabarski, a education from UW-Stevens Point fifth-grade teacher with a minor in music. She is working at Adams-Friendship on a master’s degree in professional Elementary School in Adams development with an emphasis on County, is the 2016 recipient challenging advanced learners at UWof the Outstanding Teacher Whitewater. Award from the Wisconsin “Heather works with her local Ag Farm Bureau’s Ag in the in the Classroom program, county Classroom program. extension office, Master Gardener Each year the Wisconsin Program and others to build a network Farm Bureau Foundation of resources for her classroom,” recognizes a teacher for their Arneson added. “She also has used efforts educating students on World Dairy Expo tours, science the importance of agriculture. fairs and other hands-on activities Grabarski (center) stands with Arneson (left) and Adams Teachers of all grade levels to enhance her student’s learning County Farm Bureau president Kay Olson-Martz (right). and subject areas, with the experiences.” exclusion of certified agriculture education instructors, are Grabarski will be Wisconsin’s nominee for the National eligible to apply. Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award and will receive “Heather deserves to be recognized for her work as an $500 to attend the 2017 National Ag in the Classroom educator,” Darlene Arneson, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. the Classroom Coordinator, said. “Kudos to her for teaching For more information about Ag in the Classroom or the students about agriculture and where their food comes from.” Outstanding Teacher Award, contact Darlene Arneson at Grabarski earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary 608.828.5644.

It takes a lifetime to build a farm. But just a few short weeks or months after you’re gone the whole thing could be gone. Which is why planning for your succession calls for a legal partner that understands farming, and farmers. Contact Ruder Ware and talk with one of our experienced ag attorneys. They understand that your farm is not just a business, it’s the accomplishment of a lifetime.


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wausau | eau claire visit our blogs at

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Farm Bureau Recipes and photos courtesy of

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes Ingredients

• 1 box devil’s food cake mix • 1 box cookand-serve (noninstant) vanilla pudding • 2 c. sour cream • ½ c. water • ¼ c. oil • 2 eggs, slightly beaten • 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate, grated or chocolate chips

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter • ¼ tsp. salt • 4 c. powdered sugar, divided • ½ tsp. vanilla extract • 1 tsp. peppermint extract • 2-3 tbsp. milk or heavy cream, divided


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, pudding, sour cream, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer. Begin on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened; then beat on medium for 2-3 minutes until well mixed. Gently fold in chocolate chips and pour into well-greased muffin tins. 3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 20 minutes before icing. 4. For frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk butter on medium until smooth. Add salt. Add half of powdered sugar, 1 c. at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and peppermint extract. Beat in 1 tbsp. of milk or cream. Add remaining sugar 1 c. at a time. Add additional milk/ cream until frosting reaches desired consistency. If piping on cupcakes, it should be thick. 5. Ice cupcakes by hand, or pipe with an extra-large plain round or star tip.

Brown Sugar Fudge Ingredients

• 2 /3 c. evaporated milk • 2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed • ¾ c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks • ¼ tsp. salt • 1 tsp. vanilla • 1¾ c. powdered sugar • 1 c. toasted walnuts, optional


1. In a heavy medium-sized pot, bring first four ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently until candy thermometer reads 240 degrees, about 20-30 minutes. 2. Pour into a metal bowl (a plastic one will melt) and add vanilla. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed. Add powdered sugar slowly and continue beating until fudge is thick and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. 3. Add walnuts and stir with spoon. 4. Spread in an ungreased 8-inch square pan; refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes. 5. Cut into small squares before serving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Balls Ingredients

• 1 yellow cake, prepared according to package instructions, baked and cooled • ¾ c. water • ¾ c. sugar • ¾ c. peanut butter • 2 c. semisweet chocolate chips • ½ c. white chocolate chips • 1 c. salted peanuts, chopped • 12-16 decorative cupcake liners


1. In a medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. While still warm, stir in peanut butter. Whisk until evenly blended. 2. W hen cool enough to handle, stir into cake. With clean hands, mix liquid into cake until evenly moistened. 3. With a medium-size ice cream scoop, spoon cake mixture onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. This should yield about 12 large or 16 medium-sized cake balls. Freeze until well set, about 1 hour. 4. Melt semisweet chocolate in microwave on low setting until just melted. Carefully pick up and coat each cake ball with chocolate; set in cupcake liners. (There isn’t a neat way to do this, so be prepared for some dripping and clean-up.) 5. Melt white chocolate and drizzle over the top of each cake ball. Quickly sprinkle chopped peanuts on top before chocolate hardens.

December | January 2016-2017



Wisconsin Farm Bureau Staff Updates Eckelberg Named Executive Director of Public Relations


my Eckelberg has been promoted by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation to its Executive Director of Public Relations. As the leader of the WFBF’s public relations team, Eckelberg is responsible for managing the responsibilities of the public relations division, which includes serving as the organization’s primary media spokesperson and developing and managing internal and external media relations functions. She will also serve as the editor of Rural Route, Farm Bureau’s membership magazine. “Amy makes an excellent Executive Director of Public Relations because of her connections,” said Dale Beaty, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Chief Administrative Officer. “She not only has an immediate connection to our members because of her involvement on her family’s farm but she also has made important connections with county Farm Bureau leaders, fellow

staff and media partners over her years with the organization. As a member of the Millennial generation, she is connected to the future leaders of Wisconsin Farm Bureau and brings their values, creativity and innovation to our leadership team.” Eckelberg (formerly Manske) was raised on her family’s dairy farm near New London in Waupaca County. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from UW-Green Bay. She joined the WFBF staff in July 2012 as WFBF’s Communication Coordinator. Most recently she was WFBF’s Director of Communications. “I am humbled by this opportunity and excited to lead the public relations team,” said Eckelberg. “There is no bigger honor than working with our Farm Bureau members to share the story of agriculture.” Eckelberg grew up showing dairy cattle and hogs at the Waupaca County Fair. She was a member of FFA and 4-H and continues to be a 4-H leader. She is a former Waupaca County Fairest of the Fair and was a finalist for Alice in Dairyland in 2012. Eckelberg was also active on the Fourth Estate newspaper staff at UW-Green Bay, working as a news writer, business manager and public relations manager. Eckelberg and her husband, Jonathan, live near DeForest. She succeeds Casey Langan as WFBF’s Executive Director of Public Relations. Eckelberg began her duties on November 7.

Arneson Returns as Ag in the Classroom Coordinator


arlene Arneson has been named the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom Coordinator. Arneson previously held this position from 200414. “Darlene’s extensive experience with Agriculture in the Classroom and her long history with Farm Bureau, both as a staff member and as a volunteer, will serve her well as she leads Wisconsin’s Ag in the Classroom program,” said Bob Leege, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Executive Director of Member Relations.


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Arneson is a graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in agricultural education. She was the agriculture instructor at Cashton and Cambridge High Schools from 1986-91. Arneson is active with 4-H, FFA and the FFA Alumni. She was president of the Dane County Farm Bureau for six years, is a former Wisconsin State FFA Officer and served on the Wisconsin FFA Alumni as State President. She has previously served on the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council and Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and still serves on the Sons of Norway Fifth District Board. “I am very excited to return to Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Ag in the Classroom program,” Arneson said. “It’s fun to reconnect with our members and volunteers and to see the changes in needs of teachers. I look forward to using new and existing educational resources that will provide valuable tools to our member volunteers, teachers and students as they teach and learn about agriculture.” Arneson and her husband, John, live near Stoughton and have three adult children. She began her duties on October 17.

Wisconsin farm bureau federation


New Faces on Farm Bureau Committees Promotion and Education Committee


hree agricultural advocates have been appointed to a three-year term on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee. Their terms began at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting in December. Roth Dickman Katie Roth grew up in Darlington on her family’s 330-cow dairy farm. Married in early 2016, Katie works on her husband’s farm Banner Ridge Farms, LLC, as the herdsperson in addition to serving as a program technician for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Grant County. Katie has served a variety of roles in her county Farm Bureau including Young Farmer and Agriculturist chair, secretary and Ag in the Classroom co-Chair. She has also graduated from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute and the American Farm Bureau Women’s Communications Boot Camp. Lynn Dickman is a research agronomist at Heartland Farms, Inc., an 8,000-acre farm growing potatoes specifically for potato chips near Hancock. She finished her master’s degree in horticulture from UW-Madison in June 2016. She also completed her bachelor’s degree in dairy science at UWMadison. Lynn grew up on a dairy farm in Argyle and was active in 4-H and FFA. She is the Waushara County Farm

Bureau YFA chair, president of the Tri-County FFA Alumni, a member of the Stevens Point Curling Club and City Band and a board member for Meals on Wheels. Lynn was a member of Leadership Institute Class VIII. Kay Gilbertson lives in Elk Gilbertson Mound with her husband, Kevin and their three children, Brandon, Bailey and Kaleb. As a family, they are active in FFA, 4-H, church and school activities. Along with Farm Bureau they are members of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. Kay and Kevin manage Gilbertson Farms in partnership with Kevin’s family. They milk 475 cows and farm 1,900 acres. Kay is the general leader of Elk Meadow 4-H Club, Sunday School superintendent at her church and the Dunn County Ag in the Classroom coordinator. The Promotion and Education Committee, which replaced the state’s women committee in 2015, is a group of nine leaders who represent the nine Wisconsin Farm Bureau districts. Committee members develop, implement and promote projects and programs that build awareness and understanding of agriculture and provide leadership development for the agricultural community. The Promotion and Education Program is funded by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation.

Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee


hree young leaders have been UW-River Falls and a Barron County Farm appointed to the Wisconsin Bureau member. In her free time, she likes to Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and read, take videos and pictures of her son, ride Agriculturist Committee. Their bike and seek adventure. Julie and her son, terms started at the Young Farmer Bryan, live in Rice Lake. and Agriculturist Conference in Tammy Wiedenbeck is a field December. representative for Equity Livestock Sales Charlie Oberhaus works on Cooperative. She assists farmers in southwest Cozy Nook Farm, a dairy farm near Wisconsin and northeast Iowa with livestock Waukesha managed by his parents marketing. Tammy owns 20 Shorthorn and Tom and Joan Oberhaus. Charlie is Angus beef cows. She is a member of the a graduate of UW-Madison’s Farm Grant County Farm Bureau, secretary of the New YFA committee members include (left to and Industry Short Course. After Grant County Cattleman’s Association, board right) Tammy Wiedenbeck, Charlie Oberhaus high school Charlie formed Cozy member of the Lancaster FFA Alumni and and Julie Wadzinski. Nook Trucking LLC, a one-truck lifetime member of UW-Platteville alumni. business that he operates full-time along with working at his The WFBF YFA Committee consists of nine couples or home farm. He is a member of the Waukesha County Farm individuals (ages 18-35) from across the state. Its goal is to get Bureau. more young farmers and agriculturists acquainted with and Julie Wadzinski is a farm and production management involved in Farm Bureau. They carry out a variety of statewide instructor at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College where initiatives, such as conferences, contests and award programs. she works with farmers to get on the latest technology and The YFA Program is funded by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau methods for improving farm longevity. She is a graduate of Foundation. December | January 2016-2017



Farm Bureau Members Supply White House Christmas Tree Story by Marian Viney; Photos by Wes Raddatz


conto County Farm Bureau members and Christmas tree growers Dave and Mary Vander Velden had their dreams come true this year when one of their trees made it to the White House. “It’s a dream. It’s like a Super Bowl. It’s like a gold medal at the Olympics. It doesn’t get any better,” Dave said. The 22-year-old Balsam-Veitch fir tree will be displayed in the Blue Room at the White House where President Barack Obama receives guests throughout the holiday season. Vander Velden explained that the tree is a cross between a Fraser fir, native to North Carolina, and a Veitch fir, which is A week before Thanksgiving, elementary school students from Oconto and Green Bay, of the National Christmas Tree Association and other dignitaries gathered as native to Japan. He started experimenting members the 69th Alice in Dairyland Ann O’Leary used a handsaw to make the first cuts in the trunk. with this cross years ago in hopes of finding “the perfect one.” In 2015, the Vander Veldens were cochampions of the National Christmas Tree Association's annual contest, earning the honor of supplying the White House with its official Christmas tree in 2016. Contest winners have provided the White House tree since 1966. On November 25, Michelle Obama welcomed the Vander Veldens and the Christmas tree on a horse-drawn wagon to the White House. During the next several days, volunteers decorated the 19-foot tree to honor the U.S. military. The Vander Veldens have won the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association’s contest four times and as state winners they were honored to supply trees for the Capitol in Madison. Whispering Pines Tree Farm is a choose-and-cut farm with activities such as visiting with Santa and riding the Whispering Pines Express train. Children can enjoy a sweet treat from the candy store, while adults can enjoy shopping in the holiday-ornament shop. The Vander Veldens also make wreaths and garland to sell and operate a retail tree lot in Green Bay. For more information, visit or find “Whispering Pines Tree Farm, Oconto, WI” on Facebook.


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Wisconsin farm bureau federation


Members Fund the Foundation 50/50 Raffle

Cornhole Tournament

This year the YFA Committee held two 50/50 raffles. Ken Levzow (left pictured with Brian Preder) was the winner Saturday night and Steve Baxter (right pictured with Derek Orth) was the winner Sunday night. A total of $2,245 was raised for the WFB Foundation from the raffles.

A cornhole tournament was held Friday night of the YFA Conference. Twenty-two teams participated, raising $440 for the WFB Foundation. The first place team was from Iowa County and the second place team was from Grant County.

Trivia Contest A trivia contest was held Saturday night during the WFBF Annual Meeting and YFA Conference. Thirty-one teams raised more than $1,850 for the WFB Foundation.

Pictured (L-R) are first place team: Jared Leonard and Justin Doyle from Iowa County and second place team: Tammy Weidenbeck and TJ Roth from Grant County.

$5 Farm Bureau Merchandise Playbook Posse was the winning trivia team. Members were (L-R) Darby Sampson, Rosalie Geiger, Katelin Haglund, Nicole Adrian, Katie Roth and Andrea Brossard.

Farm Bureau merchandise was available for $5 at the WFBF Annual Meeting. Items included Betty Engel notecards, sweatshirts and polo shirts. A total of $950 was raised from the sale.

Thank You to the Following WFB Foundation Donors: (Donations were made between September 16 and November 30, 2016)

• Shawano County Farm Bureau • Superior Shores Farm Bureau • Badgerland Farm Credit Service

• Carl Casper • Manitowoc County Farm Bureau in memory of Richard Dvorak

December | January 2016-2017


Kale Meyer, Loganville

Ryan Klussendorf, Medford

Rebecca Hilby, Platteville Joylene Reavis, Brodhead

Send us YOUR Photos Wisconsin Farm Bureau members live and work with beautiful landscapes and livestock. On this page we highlight those sights and special moments. Please email your best photos (high resolution jpgs, 4x6 inches at 300 dpi) to Due to the high volume of photos we receive, we are unable to publish every photo.


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Robert Klussendorf, Medford

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

March 10-11, 2017 Madison Marriott West, Middleton

Full Agenda Available Visit to view the full conference agenda. Keynote Speaker:

Register by February 13th to

save $25 with Early Bird Pricing Registration is easy. Register and pay online at

Jane Jenkins Herlong

Early Bird Registration Fee: $130

“Bare Feet to High Heels and the Flip Flops in Between”

One-Day Only Registration: $115

Based on Jane’s best-selling book, Bare Feet to High Heels, this presentation is filled with heart and “sole.” Jane shares her journey from the farm to being labeled dyslexic, all the way to the runway of the Miss America Pageant and beyond. Her stories are guaranteed to make you laugh all the way toward becoming your own personal best.

Nominate an AgVocate of the Year by January 6th Know a woman who is a true advocate for agriculture in Wisconsin? Nominate her for the AgVocate of the Year award, sponsored by Pam Jahnke, the Fabulous Farm Babe. Nomination forms and more information is available online at

(if received on or before February 13, 2017)

After February 13, 2017: $155 (no early bird discount for one-day option)

Registration deadline: March 3, 2017

Book a Hotel Room by February 13th to save

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Madison Marriott West

1313 John Q Hammons Drive Middleton, WI For reservations, call (888) 745-2032 or book online at

Reduced Hotel Room Rate: $128 + tax Request the “WI Ag Women’s Summit” room block by February 13, 2017 to receive this rate.

Presented by:

#WAWS17 December | January 2016-2017

University of Wisconsin–Extension 39 ©2017 Wisconsin Ag Women’s Summit

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation invites you to attend


Monona Terrace Convention Center • Madison, WI

Early Registration Deadline: March 3

11:00 a.m. Registration 11:30 a.m. Opening Program 11:45 a.m. Lunch 12:45 p.m. Legislative Briefings 3:00 p.m. Leave for Capitol Visits

Cost: $25 per person by registration deadline $30 after deadline and at the door

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Wisconsin farm bureau federation

County Kernels Focus on Farming – Portage and Wood Counties

County Fair Oasis – Winnebago County

In August, Portage and Wood County Farm Bureaus hosted their first Focus on Farming event. The event allowed elected officials to meet farmers and hear how the decisions they make impact farmers. Attendees took tours of three farms; Hillcrest Farms, Eron’s Event Barn and Feltz Family Farms.

The Winnebago County Farm Bureau worked with UW Extension and area FFA chapters to organize an Ag Activity Oasis at the Winnebago County Fair. A variety of handson ag activities were set up to teach fairgoers more about agriculture. 4-H and FFA members volunteered for the activities.

Promotion and Education Tour – District 5

Ag in the Classroom Farm Tour – Marquette County

The District 5 Promotion and Education meeting was held October 29 at Heartland Farms. Members were updated on the new ‘Playbook’ resource. Following the meeting members toured Heartland Farms, a fifth-generation irrigated potato and vegetable farm operating in five Wisconsin counties. The farm consists of approximately 21,000 irrigated acres.

The Marquette County Ag in the Classroom farm tour was held on October 11 at the Borzick Family Farm. More than 100 fourth grade students attended the event. Educational stations were sent up and presentations were given on calf care, crops grown in Marquette County, the nutrition value of milk, what cows eat and farm safety.

On-The-Farm Town Hall Meeting – Marathon County

The Marathon County YFA program hosted an On-The-Farm Town Hall meeting on October 23 at Misty Hollow Farms in Athens. It started with a farm tour led by owners Eric and Misty Vogel. After the tour a forum was held with candidates who answered questions on right to farm, farm size, management practices and future budget goals.

December | January 2016-2017


Ag in the classroom

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Ag in the Classroom Program Awards Teacher Mini-Grants The Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program has awarded 12 teacher mini-grants to teachers to use in agricultural literacy lessons and activities. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation funded the grants that provide opportunities for teachers to obtain funding that may not be available through their local school budgets. The following teachers were awarded $100 grants that will be used this school year: 3 Sisters Garden Table Project

Greenhouse Table Project

Ag Processing Unit

Growing Plants from Seed

Tim Olson and Lisa Wasson Houlton Elementary, St. Croix County Fourth grade students are part of a garden project planting corn, bean and squash seeds for the 3 Sisters Garden. Working with the high school shop class, the table built would be used for their seeds as they learn about Native American farming societies. While helping design the table, the students will learn about the basic requirements needed for seed germination and plant growth. Jeanna James and Loghan Hallett Chippewa Falls Middle School, Chippewa County Using soybean science kit lessons demonstrating the changes to a non-food product during processing, the students will use supplies necessary to conduct the lessons. Students will be creating marbleized paper and making lip balm, hand cream, candles and crayons. These lessons will be conducted in each of the sixth grade class rotations in the exploring agriculture class.

JoAnn Augustin and Heather Bohl Houlton Elementary, St. Croix County This project of designing a table for the school’s greenhouse will help students learn about interactions within environmental systems and how they affect the survival and quality of life for all living things. Working cooperatively with each other, fifth grade students will design the table for plant germination and growth and then communicate the plan to the high school students building the table. John Slipek Abbotsford High School, Clark County Working with second grade students over eight weeks, the agriculture education instructor will assist elementary classes as they use the high school greenhouse. Students will see first-hand how plants grow from seed, learn the principles of growing plants and have the satisfaction of growing a marketable product themselves.

Farming on the Go

Farming on the Go

Cheri Oglesby St. Rose Catholic School, Grant County A farm take-home kit consisting of farm items, puzzles, puppets and CD, coloring pages and non-fiction books will allow students and their families opportunities to learn about farming and enjoy farm activities together. Students will be able to check out the kit twice a school year, once each semester for three days, and can share it with their family.

Gardening Tool Shelving Project

Mary Wicker and Dan Rock Houlton Elementary, St. Croix County Students will learn about gardening tools and their purpose as they help to design and build a gardening tool shelf for their greenhouse. As the students make choices on the design and work with high school students who will build the shelves, they will learn the concept of community and learning how to work together.


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Planting Table and Work Table Project

Patrick Sahli Houlton Elementary, St. Croix County Second grade students will learn how plants grow and change. They will use the tables as they germinate seeds and transplant them. They will make a visual display to show how things grow and change, the need for water and sunlight and how the tables’ design will affect the success of their seeds and plants.

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

Nutrition Services Greenhouse Project

Visit from Author Lisl Detlefsen

Kristie Faust Houlton School, St. Croix County Working closely with a Master Gardener, the Nutrition Services Manager will identify specific gardens for each grade level and then work with students as they learn about those crops. Students will see the complete process after growing vegetables and then eating them in school lunch. The grant will be used in designing the storage for the produce in the kitchen.

Outdoor Education-Orienteering

Kimberly Houser Wisconsin Heights High School, Dane County Compass reading will be added to the wildlife management class and the orienteering unit. The compasses will be used for student learning and for the Food For America program’s hands-on natural resources station. It will allow students to develop navigational skills and not rely on Google Maps and GPS when they are outdoors.

Pumpkin Seed Project

Lisa Persinger and Natalie Thorson Houlton Elementary, St. Croix County By giving kindergarten students an opportunity to plant pumpkin seeds, the students will learn about the growing process and where their pumpkins come from. They will learn about basic plant needs including light, water and temperatures as they germinate the seeds and use the greenhouse tables to watch the plants grow.

Rural Life Reads!

Kirstin Thompson Greenfield Elementary, St. Croix County Fifth grade students are expected to research rural life skills, conduct interviews of community members, design a threedimensional model related to an agricultural topic and build their speaking skills by doing a presentation to the class on a rural topic. The grant will be used to purchase resource books that can be used along with online research so the students can have a variety of sources.

Visit from Author Lisl Detlefsen

Livia Doyle Mineral Point Elementary, Iowa County Mineral Point Elementary School will host Time for Cranberries author Lisl Detlefsen to their school for presentations including a book reading, sharing her experiences of growing up on a cranberry marsh and information about Wisconsin’s state fruit and how she wrote the book. The grant will be used to help cover the expenses of having the author travel and presenting to the students.

Visit from Author Lisl Detlefsen

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program also has matching grants available to groups and organizations that conduct agricultural literacy projects. Applications are due by April 1 and can be downloaded at or by contacting Darlene Arneson at 608.828.5644 or

December | January 2016-2017



Silent Auction Supports Foundation The Foundation’s Silent Auction has long-standing support from our members and partners and this year was no different. Thank you to each and every person who donated items, brought them to the Annual Meeting, purchased items and continued to bid throughout the event. With your help, 273 items were donated and $16,285 were raised to continue supporting our education and leadership development programs. We’re Farm Bureau Proud to have supporters like these!


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Wisconsin farm bureau federation

Rural mutual

Beware of Chimney Fires M

any times, we focus on what needs to be done on the farm in preparation for the winter months, but have you thought about your home? Are the windows secure and sealed? Have you shut off and drained the outside water lines? Did you check the chimney to make sure that it is clean and in good operational condition? The chimney? Why do I need to check the chimney? Each year in the U.S., there are more than 25,000 chimney fires that are responsible for more than $125 million in property damages and more than 200 deaths. The leading factor contributing to these chimney fires is improper maintenance and use of heating equipment. The first thing a homeowner needs to do is set up a preventative maintenance schedule. The fireplace or wood burning stove needs to be inspected annually. This includes checking the ventilation piping to make sure it is not in contact with any structural components. Checking a brick chimney is critical because it can deteriorate over time. The mortar between the bricks will crack, causing the bricks to become loose and possibly fall out. With an opening present, the heat and combustible material may travel into wall cavities. The buildup of creosote in wall cavities increases the chances of a chimney fire. During the inspection of a chimney, it is

New OSHA Fines I

n 2015, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act. Congress often adds civil monetary penalties to laws to create incentives for compliance. “Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law.” Because penalties are less effective when they have not been raised for decades, and to keep up with inflation, the new law directs agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties for inflation every year.

recommended that you use a wire brush to clean any buildup of creosote. An easy way to reduce the buildup of creosote in your chimney or lining is to use the proper fuel. Hardwoods such as maple, oak and hickory are suggested as the best wood to use. The wood should be dried and stored in an area that is protected from the elements. When burning, let the fire get hot. If the temperature in the fireplace does not exceed 150 degrees, the unburned combustible gases are not released into the atmosphere. This is how the creosote starts to buildup in the chimney and lining walls. Also, it is important to use clean newspapers and dry kindling to start fires. Burning garbage and other combustible materials increases the chance of creosote buildup and damage to the NEW OSHA FINES chimney lining. In 2015, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act. Congress often adds civil The last safety check is to make sure you have working smoke monetary penalties to laws to create incentives for compliance. detectors with at least one smoke detector on each level of your “Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for home. A carbon monoxide detector is also a smart investment. workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law.” Fireplaces and wood stoves create a relaxing environment and penalties are less effective when they have not been raised for decades, and to keep up with inflation, the areBecause a great source of heat. We need to take the proper steps in new law directs agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties for inflation every year. preventative maintenance The five agencies that enforce penalties are: and proper operation to make sure 1. the Employeeis Benefits that everyone safe.Security Administration, 2.

the Mine Safety and Health Administration,


the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),


the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and


the Wage and Hour Division.

This article only addresses OSHA. See the chart below. OSHA PENALTIES The five agencies Type of Violation Current Maximum Penalty New Maximum Penalty that enforce penalties Serious Other than serious $7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation are: posting requirements 1. the Employee Failure to abate $7,000 per day beyond the $12,471 per day beyond the Benefits Security abatement date abatement date Willful or repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation Administration, 2. the Mine Safety after this date willwillbe subject to the new OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, increase by 78 percent. These new penalties took effect August 2, 2016. and Health Administration, penalties if the related violations occurred Any citations issued by OSHA on or after this date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations 3. the Occupational Safety and Health after November 2, 2015. occurred after November 2, 2015. Administration, Employers should Employers should become familiar with the new penalty amounts and review become their health andfamiliar safety policies to compliance with OSHA standards. 4. the Office of Workers’ensure Compensation with the new penalty amounts and review Employers that have undergone OSHA inspections on or after November 2, 2015, should be aware that the increased penalty amounts will apply to them if OSHA waits untilsafety August 1, policies 2016, or later to any Programs, and their health and topropose ensure applicable penalties. 5. the Wage and Hour Division. compliance with OSHA standards. For More Assistance This article only addresses OSHA. See Employers that have undergone OSHA OSHA offers a variety of options for employers that are looking for compliance assistance. the chart for more information. inspections on or after November 2, The On-site Consultation Program provides professional, high-quality, individualized assistance to small businesses OSHA’s maximum penalties, 2015, should be aware that the increased at no cost. which have not been raised sinceTo1990, will penalty will apply to tothem if address the impact of these penalty increases onamounts smaller businesses, OSHA will continue provide penalty and other factors. increase by 78 percent. reductions based on the size of the employer OSHA waits until August 1, 2016, or For more information about OSHA, visit These new penalties took effect August later to propose any applicable penalties. For more information about OSHA, visit www. 2, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA on or

December | January 2016-2017


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Are You Covered? Are You Sure? N

ow that Wisconsin is under ‘Old Man Winter’s grip’ it is important to remember that with the threat of more snow, state emergency officials are urging residents to clear roofs and decks to minimize the likelihood of structural collapse. To prevent major damage, there are preventative measures one can take to save money on major repairs. Dangers of Snow-Covered Roofs Picturesque snow-capped houses and barns are charming, but don't be fooled by their delicate beauty. Snow is heavy, and that weight increases when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix. NBC News reported that two feet of snow on an average-sized roof is the equivalent of 38,000 pounds, or 19 tons. That extra weight puts stress on the roof and weakens its structure. Pole buildings that were exposed to conditions last year, but stayed up are now at a greater risk of collapse. When a pole building carries a load at, near or above the snow load rating for an extended period the gusset plates, bottom chords and webs weaken. Most agriculture buildings are rated to 38 pounds per foot when built but now because of the loads from


The Ag-Bag system creates and preserves high quality silage in an air-tight, oxygen-free environment, greatly minimizing storage losses. Discover the economic advantages of using the Ag-Bag system to retain high feed value and significantly reduce expenses. /


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last year, they may only hold 28 pounds per foot before it may collapse. That’s the bad news. The good news is, timely snow removal from roofs, shoring up of bottom chord and the addition of knee braces will restore the buildings to 38 pounds per foot or more. Rural Mutual Insurance agents recommend that you consult a professional building contractor before doing any structural alterations. Before attempting to remove snow from roofs, take note that clearing roofs can be a dangerous task. Think twice before climbing on to the roof with a shovel in hand as the weight of a person may be enough to trigger the roof to collapse. Also, taking the wrong step on an icy roof can easily send you sliding down a slippery slope. How Do You Remove Snow from the Roof ? Once snow buildup occurs or ice dams form, using a roof rake is the best option that doesn't require spending money for a professional. The rake has an extended handle that enables you to pull snow off the roof while safely being on the ground. Insurance Coverage Rural Mutual Insurance receives inquiries regarding whether our policy covers snow removal from a roof to prevent ice damming. Our property policies with Rural Mutual Insurance cover direct physical loss, not the maintenance required to prevent a loss from occurring. There also are situations where we do exclude collapse on some buildings as well as some roof structures. It is important to review your policy. Rural Mutual Insurance policies do cover the internal water damage from an ice dam, but do not cover snow removal to prevent ice dams. Ice dams are well documented in Wisconsin. Property owners should be aware and realize that it is their responsibility to maintain properties to prevent such conditions. Taking preventative measures can help reduce damage from occurring and minimize repair costs.

Wisconsin farm bureau federation

But you could use life insurance to cover your care if you get sick. Contact your Rural Mutual Insurance agent today to make sure you have all the coverage you need.

Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company/West Des Moines, IA. LI166 (10-16)

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customer. stephen r. covey

Rural Mutual Insurance Company



2015 & 2016

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Dec Jan 16 17 RR web