During the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days annual meeting held April 3 at the Pyle Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brad Pfaff, the new designated Wisconsin agriculture secretary, told the group: “There is power in voices. We need to tell our big cities, our industry leaders and our community clubs agriculture’s story.”
Pfaff said he plans to tell agriculture’s story across the state to people who live in rural areas as well as suburban and urban areas.
“They need to know that there is more to agriculture than bushels, bales and hundredweights,” Pfaff said. “Wisconsin has the climate, the water, the genetics, and we have the work ethic — that’s what is so great about our agriculture. I ask your help in moving Wisconsin agriculture forward.”
During the meeting, each county hosting an upcoming show reported on the progress being made. First, a report on last year’s show was given.
Last year’s show
The 2018 Farm Tech Days was hosted by Wood County July 10-12 at the D&B Sternweis Farms, Weber’s Farm Store and Heiman Holsteins, all located just west of Marshfield.
The Sternweises, who milk 400 cows, featured their new 40-cow rotary parlor at the show.
Matt Lippert, Wood County Extension agriculture agent, said in addition to showcasing dairy and livestock farming in the county, they also focused on the cranberry industry, which represents a major portion of Wood County’s agriculture. Wisconsin is the No. 1 cranberry-producing state in the nation, he said.
“One out of 11 cranberries grown in the world is produced in Wood County,” Lippert noted. “We were really proud of our show.”
Executive Committee Chairman Dennis Bangart echoed Lippert’s comments: “It was a fantastic event. We built the show around the theme if you bring the show to the people, they will come. We had a great opportunity to teach people about agriculture. And we used the show to give back to the community.”
Bangart and Lippert said the Wood County Farm Technology Days Executive Committee gave $103,000 to local nonprofit organizations.
This year’s show
The 2019 show will be hosted by Jefferson County July 23-25 at the Mike and Sarah Walter farm near Grellton. The family grows corn, soybeans, winter wheat and alfalfa on more than 6,000 acres.
This will be the third time Jefferson County has hosted Farm Tech Days. Craig and Laura Beane joined the Bill Ward family to host the show in 1956. Bernard and Beverly Walter, Mike Walter’s parents, hosted the show in 1984.
Executive Committee Co-Chairman Scott Schneider said they have 50% of their booths and 82% of their lots sold for the show.
“We feel we are in good shape,” Schneider said. “We are seeing a lot of friendships develop among the volunteers who are giving of their time.”
LaVern Georgson, Jefferson County Extension ag agent and executive director of the show, added, “We are embracing the concept of celebrating ag. We have 20-some committees working on every facet of the show.”
Hours for the show will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 23 and July 25, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 24. Admission is $8 daily and $5 after 3 p.m. on July 24.
Since the Walters have a grain farm, there will not be any farm buildings to tour, Georgson explained. “So, we have enhanced and expanded our field demonstrations.”
In addition to baling, mowing and chopping demonstrations, they will also have tillage and tiling demonstrations.
“We will have a large solar energy display, vintage tractors and equine activities,” Georgson added. “We have a lot of things to celebrate in agriculture, and we are very much looking forward to hosting the show.”
The 2020 show will be held July 21-23 in Eau Claire County. This is the second time Eau Claire County has hosted the show; the first time was in 1992. The show will be held at Hunzinger Farms near Eau Claire. The family farms 5,500 acres, including 700 acres of horseradish, which makes them the largest horseradish farm in the U.S.
Eric Rygg, who owns Hunzinger Farms with his brother Ryan and their mother, Nancy Bartusch, said in addition to horseradish, the family grows 1,400 acres of corn, 2,100 acres of soybeans and 310 acres of snap beans. They grow and harvest more than 7.5 million pounds of horseradish per year.
Rygg said his family is excited about hosting the show. “It’s a little nerve-wracking, but we are looking forward to hosting the show.”
Bob Panzer, executive vice chairman of the Eau Claire County Farm Tech Days Executive Committee, said 42% of all horseradish sold in the U.S. comes from Eau Claire County.
“We have been signing up volunteers, but we need more,” Panzer said.
Executive Chairman John Leary said, “We are busy fundraising and putting together the educational aspects of the show. We are going to be watching Jefferson County closely — we are looking at extended hours. We’re extremely excited to host this event.”
The 2021 show will be held at Jefferson Fair Park.
“This is a whole new venture for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days to hold the show at the fair park instead of at a farm,” said Matt Glewen, general manager of WFTD. “We will be renting additional acres in the area for parking and field demonstrations.”
Clark County will host the 2022 show. This will be the third time Clark County has hosted the show.