On July 13, Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) visited Wisconsin. Congressman Thompson is the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and Dairy Business Association were honored to host him on a variety of agricultural tours to share the state’s deep farm heritage and impact to the nation’s food supply.
The day started with a policy discussion at the WFBF office in Madison. Topics included processing capabilities and commodity prices, trade, retaliatory tariffs, rural broadband, labor and regulations for hemp. Afterward the congressman headed to Uphoff Ham & Bacon Farm in Madison to talk about the state’s watershed groups and farmer led initiatives. The Uphoff farm is part of the Yahara Pride Farms watershed. Bob Uphoff shared how farmers in the watershed group proactively implemented practices such as no-till, low disturbance manure incorporation and strip tilling to reduce phosphorus and improve water quality. He stressed that farmers are innovators, but they need partners in the community to help them implement the practices on their land that benefit everyone.
To showcase Wisconsin’s diverse dairy industry the next stop was LaClare Family Creamery, a dairy goat farm and creamery in Malone. Herd management, nutrition and animal care were main topics discussed in the barn with the farm’s 700 milking goats. Food safety, the art of cheesemaking, consumer wants and retail opportunities were the focus of discussion in the retail store and processing floor.
The congressman then headed to Salchert Meats in St. Cloud to talk about meat processing and the importance of this sector to the rest of the state. Differences between county oversight and state versus federal inspection were a large portion of the discussion. Topics such as opportunities and hurdles for facility updates, enhancing technologies and labor shortages were shared throughout the tour of the meat market.
Soaring Eagle Dairy was the last farm stop where manure management efforts, conservation practices and animal care were highlighted. Congressman Thompson observed milking, the state-of-the-art ventilation system in the barn and an overview of dairy nutrition. A discussion on dairy concerns rounded out the stop. Topics during the roundtable conversation included milk pricing and the need for transparency, updates to the Federal Milk Marketing Orders, dairy export opportunities, labor shortages, access to whole milk in schools and milk labeling enforcement by FDA. The day ended at the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc.