AgNet West News Director Sabrina Hill traveled to the Midwest for two weeks to experience June Dairy Month in Wisconsin and follow up on dairy stories in South Dakota. There she sat down with the governor for an in-depth interview and also talked with several other agricultural leaders. She toured parts of Minnesota and North Dakota and learned more about agriculture in those states. During her two-week tour, she also represented California agriculture and was featured on radio stations in Wisconsin and South Dakota, where she talked about the struggles California producers are having with the drought.
Hill writes about her experiences during the tour below.
My trip started out in Wisconsin, where I spent five days learning more about California’s dairy rival. California is the nation’s leading milk producer; Wisconsin is second. I was able to visit two dairies and interview the farmers at each. Here are photos and interviews from each.
Randy and Kathy Schlosser discuss challenges and benefits of dairy farming in Wisconsin. Randy and Kathy Schlosser
Dave Hall talks about his dairy farm in Tomah, Wis and the interesting history it has seen. Dave Hall
While in Wisconsin, I spent some time in Durand. There, I joined National Association of Farm Broadcasting president-elect Brian Winnikins at his radio station as a guest morning show co-host. We talked about California agriculture, and I brought samples of some of my favorite California crops.
A highlight of my time in Wisconsin was the annual Dairy Breakfast at the Justin and Jennifer Wolfe farm in Waumandee. Justin talked to me about what went in to the dairy breakfast.Justin Wolfe
The Buffalo County dairy promotions chairman also discussed the dairy breakfast. Breakfast Chairman
Two Wisconsin elected officials were at the dairy breakfast, and both took time out to speak with me.
Congressman Ron Kind discussed with me several agriculture issues, such as the farm bill, export issues, and trade promotion authority.Congressman Ron Kind
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout told me more about her state and some of the current issues. Senator Kathleen Vinehout
At the dairy breakfast, I met and was interviewed by Bob Bosold of WAXX and WAYY. We talked about the problems California farmers are having because of the drought and other topics related to California agriculture.
For a personal look at my first exposure to cheese curds, read this blog post.
Another fun stop on my Wisconsin tour was the Eau Galle Cheese Factory, where the plant manager gave me a tour and told me about the operation.
More than Dairy
While dairy is the top agricultural product in Wisconsin, it certainly is not the only one. I visited a hops farm and cranberry marsh during my visit and learned more about both industries.
For my personal experience in North and South Dakota and scenic pictures of the trip, read this blog post.
The second half of my trip was focused primarily in South Dakota, which is actively recruiting California dairy farmers to start new businesses in that state.
Visit with the Governor
I sat down with South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to discuss the efforts and learn more about what South Dakota could offer California dairy farmers.
Full interview with Governor Daugaard
Dairy Producers and Research Facility
While following the story, I met with the South Dakota dairy producers for an interview and tour of a dairy research facility.
Roger Scheibe, executive director, South Dakota Dairy Producers discusses dairy farming in South Dakota. Roger Scheibe, executive director, South Dakota Dairy Producers
Mike Kruger, CEO Midwest Dairy Association, gave a brief update on South Dakota dairy. Mike Kruger, CEO Midwest Dairy Association
Secretary of Agriculture, Farm Bureau President
South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture, Lucas Lentsch, took time out of his schedule to talk with me about dairy and general agriculture in South Dakota.
Lucas Lentsch, SD Secretary of Agriculture
Another great stop was to meet South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal at his custom cattle-feeding operation. VanderWal also grows corn and soybeans and is a third-generation farmer.
South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal
South Dakota Radio Highlight
A final note on South Dakota: I got to be on the air on KELO in Sioux Falls, with Bill Zortman. We talked not only about California agriculture, but also about my journey in the Midwest and the South Dakota dairy story. He also followed up after my trip, having me back on the air and also talking with Governor Daugaard about my interview with him.
Zortman was in the NAFB leadership class with me in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. For a personal view on that trip and photos, read this blog post.