Meet Wisconsin farmers that are moving agriculture forward through their commitment to sustainability.

Meet a Dairy Farmer

Dan Wiese, Greenleaf

Dan Wiese is a second-generation partner at Wiese Brother Farms. They are uniquely stationed to transport, feed, and sell various food production byproducts from facilities in the greater Fox Valley region.

At Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, they are always looking for opportunities to implement diverse products to feed their dairy cattle.

Dan compares the herd to the residents of a town or village. Each one needs to be fed and their waste needs to be managed. At Wiese Brothers, they aim to feed their herd in an efficient, cost-effective way and handle their manure to be good stewards of the community and environment around them.
Cows are indirectly helping to reduce methane emissions through consumption of edible food waste.

Truckloads of product will be rejected from processing plants for a myriad of reasons. Wiese’s are located about 25 miles south of Green Bay, putting them in an ideal location to accept these products.

The dairy cow is a wonderful recycler. She is able to turn those food byproducts into delicious, nutritious dairy products.

The base ingredients of the cow’s diet are still corn silage and haylage and remain consistent day to day. Fruity Pebbles, granola, cranberry hulls and candy are a few examples of products that have been worked into the ration at Wiese Brothers.

When it comes to sustainability, every farm is different. Wiese Brothers have found an economic and environmental benefit in implementing byproducts in their dairy herd ration.

Meet a Hog Farmer

AV Roth, Wauzeka

AV Roth is a fifth-generation hog farmer. Preserving the land for the next generation is a priority for the Roth family.

Roth Feeder Pigs, Inc. is a fifth-generation farrow-to-wean swine farm in Wauzeka. AV Roth and his wife Christine love to involve their kids in the farm and always stress the importance of taking care of their animals.

Sustainability has been a pillar of the farm since AV’s great-great grandfather began farming the land. At Roth Feeder pigs, it goes beyond caring for the land. They use cover crops and no-till practices to preserve their soil on the rolling hills of Wisconsin’s driftless region.

AV said sustainability means having the ability to pass the farm from one generation to the next. AV wants to pass a profitable farm to his children and their children.

AV said caring for the people and animals he works with is just as important as taking care of the land.

Taking care of the people and treating them well translates into exceptional animal care. A core value at the heart of the team’s success is the care and safety of the animals. Animals that are well cared for are happy, healthy and often times require little to no treatments or antibiotics. Antibiotic use in hog production has decreased by more than 30%, which lessens the cost for the farmer while promoting animal welfare.

Pork producers across the nation are proud to be producing more pork than ever before with less inputs. Swine production uses 25% less water than 20 years ago. AV attributes the decrease in water use on his farm to improved facility management and waterer design. They use a cool cell ventilation system to keep the pigs cool in the summer, requiring less water than a sprinkler system and keeping pigs even more comfortable.

“We are learning what we need to do to help the environment and community,” said AV. “I can’t wait for the next 20 years.”

Meet a Corn Farmer

Jeff Lake, Boyceville

Lake Family Farm is a fifth-generation farm embracing innovative management and conservation practices. Jeff's goal is to pass his farm to his kids and grandkids.

Lake Family Farm is a fifth-generation farm located near Boyceville in Dunn County. Jeff and Kelley Lake, along with their children April and Jake, grow 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They also raise a small beef herd.

The Lake family has embraced innovative management and conservation practices and are continually promoting and protecting soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat, all while strengthening the farm’s bottom line.
Jeff compares planting no-till to planting a garden in a front lawn without using a rototiller. There are still challenges to no-till.

The Lake farm is surrounded by the north and south fork of the Hay River. Jeff has worked to build up and improve the stream bank by placing stream barbs along the shoreline. These barbs promote a good, natural habitat that allows native plants to thrive. Jeff lets the river do its thing and is confident it will stay in place without losing any bank.

Having proactively prepared their soil and land through cover crops, no-till, and buffer strips, the Lakes are not intimidated by large rain events. Combined, the practices they have implemented ensure the longevity of the farm’s future.

“Sustainability means we can pass the farm on to the next generation – even to our grandkids”

Meet a Beef Farmer

Ryan Ripp, Dane

Ryan and his wife, Brianna, started RippView Ridge with a desire to raise crops, cattle and the next generation of farm kids.

Ryan Ripp grew up in the small village of Dane, Wis., helping his extended family custom raise dairy heifers and finish steers. During his youth, he watched the volunteer fire department battle a grass fire at his family’s farm,
which fueled his desire to serve his community.

After graduating college with a degree in animal science, he met his wife, Brianna, and they started RippView Ridge Farm with a desire to “raise crops, cattle and the next generation of farm kids.” The Ripps manage their cow-calf operation building the genetics in their herd for when their kids (now two and five years old) can start showing.

Brianna, who grew up on a dairy farm, also manages the direct marketing part of the business, selling quarters and halves to the local community. The family’s focus on service is not limited to the fire station. Brianna is on the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation board, and Ryan serves on local boards and organizations with the Lodi Agricultural Fair, the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board and Farm Bureau. If that wasn’t enough, Ryan also serves farmers as a District Manager for Dairyland Seed.

“Producers in our community are there to help one another,” Ryan said. “Everyone is upfront and honest and willing to help out, and I love being a part of that.”

Ryan enjoys networking, learning from neighbors, and sharing information. He enjoys reaching out to the community, especially kids, through the fire department’s annual open house and kids fire safety week. His dedication to the community inspires others to get involved and give back.

Provided by Wisconsin Beef Council. Read the full story here.

Meet a Potato Farmer

Jeremie Pavelski

Jeremie Pavelski is the fifth generation at family owned and operated Heartland Farms. They are dedicated to sustainability for the long term and in day-to-day operations.

The motto “Farming for the Future” and term “sustainability” go hand-in-hand. At Heartland Farms, owners Jeremie and Alicia Pavelski are living out that motto with a commitment to energy efficiency and overall sustainability across the entire farm.

Heartland Farms is a fifth-generation family farm specializing in potatoes, sweet corn, canning peas and green beans. They manage 24,000 irrigated acres spread across five counties in central Wisconsin. The farm began with 80 acres in 1873, and those original acres are still farmed today.

Heartland Farms provides chipping potatoes for Frito Lay and exemplifies the company’s commitment to 100% sustainably sourced corn and potatoes. The storage facilities at Heartland have revolutionized the chipping potato industry through development of new agronomic and storage protocols for Frito Lay varieties. Potato storage management is key to delivering a high-quality product throughout the entire year.

Heartland Farms is home to more than 100 center pivot irrigation systems and uses advanced technology to control irrigation systems remotely from a smartphone or tablet. Proper irrigation is vital for maintaining yield and quality of a crop highly sensitive to stress from Mother Nature.

Advanced technology helps set teammates up for success. Modern, comfortable, safe and reliable vehicles are a win-win for Heartland and the environment. Utilizing technology lowers miles traveled per potato produced, promotes fuel efficiency and helps Heartland recruit and maintain team members.

The team at Heartland Farms is always looking at what they can do to be better for themselves, their communities and their customers.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to be the best neighbor we can be,” Jeremie said.

There are always new technologies to incorporate, but sustainability has been at the core of Heartland Farms from the very beginning.

Meet a Cranberry Grower

Heidi Slinkman, Wisconsin Rapids

The Dempze family has been proudly growing cranberries for over 140 years. As growers for Ocean Spray, 100% of their 200 acre crop is verified sustainable.

Gaynor Cranberry Company is proudly owned by the Dempze family, who have been growing cranberries in Wood County for over 140 years.
Heidi Slinkman and her sister Jennifer Dempze are the fourth generation on the marsh in the Cranmoor township. Heidi affectionately refers to the pair of sisters as the “Gaynor Girls.”

Gaynor Cranberry Company was established in 1876 by a pair of Irish brothers. Heidi’s great-grandfather became the successor of the Gaynor brothers.
Cranberries are native to North America. The “Gaynor Girls” are proud to carry on the generational legacy of Gaynor Cranberry Company while contributing to Wisconsin’s ranking as the top cranberry producing state in the nation.

“We absolutely value sustainability in all facets of farming and agriculture,” noted Heidi. “When I think of sustainability, I think of economics, the environment, the next generation, the people, the community, the resources, the wildlife. All of those components are absolutely valuable and necessary for us.”

Water is used to harvest the state fruit. Cranberries float to the water’s surface due to four hollow air pockets inside the berry.

The team at Gaynor Cranberry Company responsibly uses water by only using as much water as they need. Water is a resource that is borrowed and shared with neighbors. Clean water is valued on the marsh because their families drink, play and swim in the water.

The cranberry industry is a strong part of Wisconsin’s heritage and economy. The Dempze family realizes that in order to preserve that legacy for years to come, they must foster sustainable farming.

Heidi believes a cranberry bed is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The marsh supports an incredible amount of bird life, from bald and golden eagles, to whooping and sandhill cranes, owls, loons, and songbirds. They take pride in keeping their farms healthy because they are directly tied to the environment.

Fun Fact: Manure can be turned into energy with a methane digester.

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