“It’s great that this tour is being held by UB&T. It really helps us build a network of farmers.”
Agriculture has been and continues to be, a very important industry in Wisconsin, rich with history and tradition. At the forefront is dairy farming, which currently makes up $43.4 billion of the Wisconsin agriculture industry’s $88.3 billion. According to the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Wisconsin’s farms and agricultural businesses generate more than $59.6 billion in economic activity and provide jobs for 353,991 people.
Union Bank and Trust Company (UB&T) held a Dairy Tour on Tuesday, March 24th in an effort to share the knowledge and expertise of one of Wisconsin’s most innovative and prosperous industries. The event included stops at both SunBurst Dairy in Belleville and Sponem Valley View Dairy in Mount Horeb, bringing together over 65 dairy farmers to tour the facilities, network and exchange information.
At SunBurst Dairy, participants visited freestall barns where 480 cows are milked three times per day. Cory Brown, a third-generation farmer at SunBurst Dairy commented, “We start our day at 4:30 am, taking care of the cows and making sure they are fed and milked before we take time for our own breakfast.” Although it’s a demanding job, Brown enjoys the rewards, “It’s an exciting time. The world’s population is growing and we need to meet that demand.” At Sponem Valley View, the second stop in UB&T’s Dairy Tour, the attendees were able to view not only the 320 cow milking operation, but also the heifer facility. A lunch and panel discussion at Deer Creek Sportsmen’s Club followed the farm tours.
99% of the more than 76,800 farms in Wisconsin are family-owned, proving the tradition of multi-generational farming spreads statewide. It’s estimated that 20,000 Wisconsin farmers will retire in the next decade, leaving a new generation of farmers to take over thousands of Wisconsin’s farms.
Gerald Brown, a first generation farmer at SunBurst Dairy has experience passing along his operations to his son, Brian Brown and grandson, Cory Brown. He commented, “I’m the consultant now. They learn from my knowledge and we work together.” When Brian Brown was asked about Cory’s contribution, he commented, “Although our history in farming is as different as our communication styles, we are thankful for the new angle he is bringing to the business.” The elder generation of farmers at the event seemed to echo this sentiment and shared enthusiasm for the future success of a new generation of farmers.
Rene Johnson, Vice President of Agricultural Lending at UB&T commented, “With so many clients in family dairy farming, we felt it was important to provide this service and bring our clients together to share their experiences and learn from one another.”
Brian Brown commented on the unique opportunity the Dairy Tour provides, “It’s great that this tour is being held by UB&T. It really helps us build a network of farmers.”