Agriculture is an important economic force in Dodge County. It includes hundreds of family-owned farms and related businesses and industry that provide equipment, services, and other products farmers need to process, market, and deliver food and fiber to consumers.
Dodge County agriculture provides nearly 10,000 jobs, or about 20% of the county's workforce, and generates more than $1.4 billion in economic activity – 28% of the county's total economic activity.
One of those family farms, Crave brothers LLC, located in southwestern Dodge County, will host the 2009 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, July 21-23.
The state-of-the-art farm is operated by brothers Charles, George, Tom and Mark Crave and includes approximately 2,000 cows and young stock; 1,800 acres of land; an on-farm cheese factory; and two anaerobic manure digesters that generate enough electricity to power 550 average Wisconsin homes - which is more than twice the electrical power the farm and cheese factory need. The farm employs the latest technologies with an emphasis on what is best for the environment, the cows, and the consumer.
The Crave Brothers Farm is truly a family affair. Charles oversees the bookkeeping and feeding, Thomas manages the machinery and cropping, and Mark is in charge of the dairy cattle and milk quality. George, a licensed cheesemaker, manages the cheese factory and his wife, Debbie, manages the administrative, marketing, and public relations activities for the cheese factory.
The younger generation helps out on the farm weekends and in summer. They care for and show Crave dairy cattle at the Dodge County Fair, Wisconsin State Fair, Midwest Holstein Spring Show, and World Dairy Expo. A son of one of the Crave brothers is a sophomore at UW-Madison in the dairy science program. Another works for a custom operator who performs work on the Crave farm, and a third is in technical college learning diesel mechanics and has also worked with the custom harvesting crew. A daughter is employed by Anna Maenner, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days marketing coordinator. Another son, Karl Crave, manages the manure digesters as an employee of Clear Horizons. His wife, Beth, assists with marketing Crave cheese and in-store demonstrations.
The Crave brothers' father, Bob, comes to the farm regularly. His most recent project has been crafting wood cabinets, desks, and chairs for the Cheese factory, farm's offices, and meeting rooms.
Another frequent visitor to the farm is their former partner, Dr. Dave Wieckert, who offered encouragement and financial stability as this family farm started back in 1978. While he is no longer involved in the farm, their former dairy instructor maintains his interest in the family and the operation. The Crave family is also quick to credit their dedicated employees who assist with the day-to-day operations.
All four brothers are active in the community and in many agricultural organizations. They are recipients of numerous awards including, most recently, 2008 World Dairy Expo Dairymen of the Year.
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days features: tram tours of the farm with multi-lingual tour guides; field demonstrations including a wide variety of equipment; ride and drive; auto steering and other upcoming advances in GPS and site-specific technologies; manure handling demonstrations; information and demonstrations in the applied technology center tent; hands on and educational youth activities for all ages; family living, entertainment, and arts and crafts areas; heritage equipment; a beef tent with 13 breeds, information, and programs; plenty of food; and information from more than 700 exhibitors.
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is the largest outdoor farm show in the state and would not be possible without the dedicated services of hundreds of volunteers and financial support from numerous businesses and individuals. The show is presented in partnership with Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, Inc., UW-Extension, and the host county. Admission is $5 person; 12 and under is free. Learn more about specific activities planned for the 2009 show at www.dodgefarmtech.com.