Like a lot of our neighbors, I grew up on my parent’s dairy farm right here in Somerset. My mom and dad milked around 140 cows with each of us kids helping out when we were old enough- and even when we were not. We still remember the small things from those days; sunlight dancing through air filled with floating chaff, or the feeling of the new calves sucking on our fingers.
Personally, I will never forget the feeling of getting kicked in the mouth by Number 34. She ended up being my favorite because that kick moved a couple teeth and, as family legend would have it, she saved me from needing braces. We still laugh about that.
Though we fought for years to keep it going, my family lost our farm and all our beloved cows to the farm crisis of the 1980s. My husband and I moved off the farm to find work and all my brothers went to work in packaging and fabrication, but you will never take farming out of their blood. Working in agriculture isn’t just a job, it is a way of life and it is slipping out of the reach of too many of our neighbors.
Farming should not be relegated to distant memory in Wisconsin. Our agricultural industry is the bedrock of our state’s economy and the strong communities that we hold so dear. From 4-H fairs to corn mazes, farming is inseparable from our identity. Now, with agriculture at risk, we are fighting to make sure that it isn’t just a part of our heritage, but a critical part of our future.
Governor Tony Evers announced a significant reinvestment in rural Wisconsin during his State of the State a few weeks ago. He announced the creation of an Office of Rural Prosperity to coordinate services across agencies, as well as a Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity that will travel the state to get your input and ideas. He also called for an Agriculture Special Session to vote on a package of bills that will provide more staff, programs, and resources to support our state’s farm families.
I know what it feels like to see your cows auctioned off and I would not wish it on anybody. I am so grateful that our Governor is joining us in this fight to prevent even more farm closures and provide our agricultural communities with the support they deserve. My colleagues from both sides of the aisle will have to join together so that we can consider these bills as soon as possible. Farm families should not have to wait for our support any longer.