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"Support Local Farmers" campaign hopes to raise $20,000 through end of year

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Sydney Endres (left) and Mariah Martin (right) have raised $14,000 for dairy farmers and food banks and are hoping to raise another $6,000 by the end of the year.

Two ag enthusiasts are "staying cheesy" by supporting Wisconsin farmers through a donation campaign – and they're hoping to hit $20,000 by the end of December.

Sydney Endres and Mariah Martin have been on the campaign trail to raise money for Wisconsin's dairy farmers and producers since May this year in the wake of COVID-19's economic disruption. They've sold more than 1,000 shirts stamped with "Stay Cheesy" and "Support Local Farmers" so far, using the money to donate over $14,000 worth of dairy products to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Feeding America.

The proceeds from the "Stay Cheesy" shirt design go to buying cheese from Saputo, which is then donated to Second Harvest. The "Support Local Farmers" design proceeds go directly to Second Harvest and Feeding America through their 'Adopt a Dairy Cow' and 'Great American Milk Drive' programs, respectively.

The movement is helping dairy farmers, who are hurting from low prices and decreased demand for their products, while also helping food-insecure families during this time of crisis. Far past the initial goal of $2,000 in donations, the women have put up a new offering of sweatshirts, now with a new cheesy design for $30 each, in the hopes of hitting the $20,000 goal for the holidays. Orders must be placed online by Friday, Nov. 13 and can be shipped or picked up in DeForest.

"As the pandemic continues, more families and individuals are facing food insecurity," Endres said. "Milk is one of the most requested items at food banks. By donating milk and cheese, we can help fill that need while helping the dairy industry find more homes for its products."

Endres and Martin both come from families with rich histories in the dairy industry. Endres was raised on her family's Jersey cow farm and she currently works for the American Jersey Cattle Association as an area representative and type traits appraiser. Martin's family involvement in dairy goes back seven generations; she works for Filament Marketing as a marketing executive.

"We’ve been overwhelmed with the support of this project from our families, friends and strangers across the US," Martin said. "Both Sydney and I have a passion for giving back and this project has allowed us to do that in a creative way."