The opening presentation at a seminar on tile drainage of agricultural lands was inspirational and philosophical rather than technical.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 100, Drainage USA owner Joe Pagel issued a challenge to protect the agricultural land that remains in Wisconsin and elsewhere. He grew up in a dairy farm family in Kewaunee County.
"Do not allow the building of houses on farmland," Pagel asked. "We have given a lot of land away. We need to protect the land."
Pagel described how he has developed "a passion" for land after once having one for dairy cows. "It's all about land."
Agricultural landowners in Iowa have an attitude about protecting their land that those in Wisconsin need to adopt, Pagel stated. "How we look at cows is how Iowans look at land."
Noting that some agricultural land in Iowa has sold for up to $20,000 acre, Pagel said "Wisconsin is missing what Iowa is doing." He contrasted this with the report of a recent $1 million sale of a dairy cow in Brown County.
Although there has been a pause in recent months in the acceleration of agricultural land prices, Pagel believes that the prices will continue to increase in the long term.
In contrast to a recent meeting at which the emphasis was on "telling you what you could not do," Pagel hoped that the remainder of the seminar would serve as a start on "shifting the mindset" on how land is viewed. "We need to be a generation ahead of the public," he indicated.
"This land is your land," Pagel asserted. "Don't give it away. Nobody can take it from you. I want you to keep your land."
Observing the number of public land, water, and natural resource agency attendees in the crowd, Pagel told the agricultural landowners that "these people are your friends. Talk to them."
Regarding the tiling of land, Pagel assured the attendees that "it pays." He suggested that dairy farming and tiling complement one another. Pagel entered the tiling field when he bought an existing Brown County business in 1997.