Ag Faces in the Crowd

Wisconsin State Farmer

Pillsbury named Pastureland Conservationist of the Year

Brian Pillsbury, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Grazing Land Specialist (Retired), received the NRCS Pastureland Conservationist of the Year Award for 2020 after over 30 years of dedicated service to the NRCS. The honor was presented at the 2021 American Forage and Grassland Council virtual conference on January 11, 2021.  

Brian Pillsbury

This award recognizes an NRCS employee for their exceptional education and outreach to promote sustainable grazing practices.

Raised on a 40-cow dairy farm in Vermont, Pillsbury started his career with the Soil Conservation Service, now NRCS, in Iowa and eventually came to Wisconsin.

Pillsbury has been a primary technical and promotional lead for modern, conservation grazing land management for over three decades.

During his career, Brian organized the first state grazing lands coalition and worked with agricultural groups and public agencies to build the grazing infrastructure in Wisconsin from the ground up. His influence extends beyond Wisconsin borders; he has created or updated grazing conservation practice standards, guidance documents and training curriculum that is used nationally. He has also been a mainstay speaker at regional and national grazing conferences.

WPVGA presents annual industry awards

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association presented several annual Industry Awards during a virtual ceremony held Feb. 2-3, 2021.  Mike Carter of Bushmans’ Inc., Rosholt, Wisconsin, was named the WPVGA Volunteer of the Year. Alex Okray was named WPVGA Young Grower of the Year. Alex started working for Okray Family Farms, Plover, in 2016.

Richard Gumz

The WPVGA Researcher of the Year Award went to Dr Yi Wang, an assistant professor and state extension specialist working on sustainable vegetable production in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture.  

The WPVGA Associate Division Business Person of the Year Award was presented to Kenton Mehlberg of T.I.P., Inc. and AgGrow Solutions, in Custer.  

2020 WPVGA Board President Rod Gumz of Gumz Muck Farms, Endeavor, presented the President’s Award to his brother, Richard Gumz, who, along with Rod, represents the fourth generation of family members working together on the farm.  

A special WPVGA Industry Appreciation Award was presented to Karen Rasmussen, who serves as the Financial Officer for the WPVGA.

Mykel Wedig

Wedig joins govt. affairs team at Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative 

Mykel Wedig, who has worked on federal ag policy issues in Washington, D.C., has been hired by Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative to join its government affairs team.

Wedig, who grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, will be an associate director of government affairs for Edge and will represent Edge members through work on the cooperative’s federal policy priorities, from labor shortages and trade opportunities to farmer-led conservation programs and truth in labeling.

She most recently worked as cooperative liaison at Cooperative Network, and as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and to the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, and as manager of congressional relations for the National Pork Producers Council.

WCGA elects new board members, officer team

The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association (WCGA) held its Board of Directors election during the WCGA Annual Meeting. Doug Rebout was re-elected to serve his third term with the WCGA Board of Directors. Andrea Brossard and Luke Goessling were elected to serve their first three-year terms as directors. Ben Huber, Agronomy Department Manager at Insight FS, was elected to serve as an Associate Director.

At a reorganization meeting immediately following the Annual Meeting, the WCGA Board of Directors named their 2021 officer team: Mark Hoffmann, President; Mike Berget, Vice President; and Shane Goplin, Secretary/Treasurer. At-Large Directors include Brossard, James Giese, Goessling, Steve Knoebel, Rebout and Zeb Zuehls. Huber and Loren Jesch serve as Associate Directors and Joe Lauer of UW-Extension as an Ex-Officio.

Kevin Schultz

Schultz promoted to Monroe market manager

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association has promoted Kevin Schultz as market manager at the cooperative’s Monroe market. In this role, Schultz oversees the Monroe market operations and staff , as well as maintains relationships with producers, truckers and buyers. He will work with member-owners to understand and meet their livestock marketing needs.

Grande named DFI Division of Banking Administrator

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) appointmented John Grande as the Administrator for DFI’s Division of Banking. Grande will lead a staff of 52 employees who oversee the regulation and examination of state-chartered banks, savings institutions, and consumer financial service industries.

Grande has spent his 28-year career in the banking industry. Grande succeeds Cheryll Olson-Collins, DFI Deputy Secretary, who has been the Acting-Administrator for the Division of Banking since February 2020.

John Grande

Cooperative Network Announces New Board of Directors

Under recently-approved articles and bylaws, Cooperative Network has moved forward with the election of a new, nine-member board of directors.

The following nine directors have been elected to the Cooperative Network board: David Johnsrud, Chairman, nominated by CHS, Inc.; Greg Sacia, Vice-Chairman, nominated by Riverland Energy Cooperative; Michele Steien, Secretary/Treasurer, nominated by Co-op Credit Union; Sadie Frericks, nominated by Land O’Lakes, Inc.; Audrey Hjelle, nominated by Great River Energy; Roger Hildebrandt, nominated by Foremost Farms USA; Christa Hoffman, nominated by GENEX; Amber Horn-Leiterman, nominated by Land O’Lakes, Inc.; and James Kinzie, nominated by Bayfield Electric Cooperative.

These directors will help guide the future activities of the organization as representatives of its cooperative members throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Jamie Pagel Witcpalek

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative elects board members 

Members of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative elected two new directors to its board during the organization’s annual meeting. Jamie Witcpalek and Justin Peterson will join the board for three-year terms to help oversee one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the country. 

Witcpalek of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy is chairwoman of Pagel Family Businesses in Kewaunee, Wis. She has been involved with Edge since her father, John, helped start the organization a decade ago. 

Peterson is the president and managing partner of Creamery Creek Holsteins in Bangor, Wis. He has been closely involved in Edge’s federal policy advocacy efforts. 

The board also chose Michael Crinion as vice president. Crinion, a dairy farmer in Elkton, S.D., has served on the board for the past two years. Mitch Davis was re-elected and will continue to serve as treasurer while Heidi Fischer was chosen as secretary. Brody Stapel will remain Edge’s president.

Jim Lindsay

Lindsay promoted to Altoona market manager

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association has promoted Jim Lindsay as the new market manager at the cooperative’s Altoona market.

In this role, Lindsay will oversee the Altoona market operations and staff , as well as maintains relationships with producers, truckers and buyers. Lindsay has worked as assistant manager at Equity Altoona for more than six years.

Fischer and Iager join Holstein Foundation Board of Trustees

The Holstein Foundation welcomed David Fischer and Matthew Iager, DVM, to their board of trustees. The board oversees the direction of the Holstein Foundation’s youth and young adult education and leadership development programs.

Dave Fischer spent 40 years in his career as a County Agricultural Advisor and State-wide Dairy Educator with University of Illinois Extension. He retired in 2010 and continued as Illinois 4-H Dairy Program Coordinator/Coach until 2020.

Dr. Iager grew up in Fulton, Maryland at Maple Lawn Farms, a Registered Holstein® dairy farm. He is a dairy veterinarian specializing in embryo transfer with Mid-Maryland Dairy Veterinarians in Hagerstown, Maryland. 

Joe Yanda

Yanda to succeed Tellock at Lakeside Foods

Joe Yanda, current chief operating officer, will succeed retiring President and CEO of Lakeside Foods Inc., Glen Tellock. Tellock joined the company in 2016 after a 24-year career at The Manitowoc Co.. Yanda will assume the role of president and CEO on May 1. Yanda joined the company in 1999.

WPVGA Associate Division Board elects Brooks

The WPVGA Associate Division Board of Directors elected Chris Brooks of Central Door Solutions, Plover, to be its President for 2021. Julie Cartwright of Jay-Mar, Inc., Plover, was elected Vice President of the Board. The rest of the directors for 2021 include: Paul Salm of BMO Harris Bank, Altoona; Matt Selenske from Allied Cooperative’s Pest Pros Division, Adams; Sally Suprise (Secretary), Rural Mutual Insurance, Waupaca; Andy Verhasselt of T.I.P., Inc., Custer; Rich Wilcox (Treasurer) of First State Bank, Stevens Point; and Justin Yach of Compass Insurance Services, Stevens Point.

Peter Kimball

WFBF members appointed to Issue Advisory committees

Four Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation members have been named to American Farm Bureau’s Issue Advisory Committees. The committees provide an avenue for Farm Bureau’s grassroots leaders to contribute their issue expertise to the organization’s policy deliberations.

Peter Kimball of Baldwin was selected to serve a two-year term on the water committee. This committee covers Clean Water Act issues, national and regional water storage programs, Army Corps of Engineers water related efforts and flood control. Kimball is a dairy farmer and is a WFBF Board member.

Dave Daniels

Dave Daniels of Union Grove continues to serve his two-year term on the farm policy committee. This committee discusses risk management, crop insurance, price and income support programs and conservation programs. Daniels is a dairy farmer and WFBF’s Vice President.

Don Radtke of Merrill continues to serve on the agricultural labor committee. Radtke and his fellow committee members will explore topics like guest worker programs, OSHA regulations, employment taxes and health care. Radtke is a Marathon County Farm Bureau leader and former WFBF board member.

Robert Nigh of Viroqua also continues to serve his two-year term on the animal care committee. This committee will examine current animal care and animal health standards, antibiotic use and livestock processing. Nigh is a dairy farmer and is a WFBF Board member.

Don Radtke
Robert Nigh

Guenthner elected WPVGA board president

Bill Guenthner of Guenthner Farms Inc., Antigo, was elected as the President of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) at its annual meeting Guenthner (District 1) succeeds Rod Gumz. Alex Okray of Okray Family Farms, Plover (District 2), was elected Vice President; Wes Meddaugh of Heartland Farms Inc., Hancock (District 3) was elected Secretary; and Mike Carter of Bushmans’ Inc., Rosholt (District 2), was elected Treasurer.In addition to the four board officers, the rest of the WPVGA Board of Directors includes: John Bustamante of Wysocki Family of Companies, Bancroft (District 2); Wendy Dykstra of Alsum Farms & Produce, Friesland (District 3); Randy Fleishauer of Plover River Farms, Stevens Point (District At-Large); Charlie Mattek of J.W. Mattek & Sons, Inc., Deerbrook (District 1); and J.D. Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms, Inc., Antigo (District 1). 

John Newton

AFBF chief economist reappointed to Ag Trade Advisory Committee

John Newton, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s chief economist, was recently reappointed to serve on the Ag Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products, one of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees.  

ATAC members provide technical advice and guidance on specific product sectors to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, which advises the Agriculture Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy matters including existing and future agreements.

Newton will serve on the committee until 2025.

Schroeder unanimously elected WSPIA president  

As part of the Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association (WSPIA) annual meeting, the WSPIA Board of Directors elected J.D. Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms, Antigo, President for 2021. Schroeder succeeds Jeff Fassbender of Seidl Farms Inc., Deerbrook, who served as Board President in 2020. Roy Gallenberg of Gallenberg Farms, Inc., Bryant, was elected Vice President; and Charlie Husnick, Baginski Farms, Antigo, was elected Secretary/Treasurer.

Mindy Habecker

Habecker retiring after 32 yrs. service to Dane Co.

Mindy Habecker, Natural Resources Educator in the Dane County Extension office, retired on Feb 2. Habecker has served as an educator with Dane County Extension for nearly 32 years working across various disciplines including agriculture, community and organizational development, and natural resources education. As part of her educator role, she served as staff to the Dane County Environmental Council and was instrumental in the Council’s accomplishments.

Trained as a soil scientist, she helped develop the first Master Composter program in Wisconsin and has taught the course ever since here in the county. She also led a task force to develop the Dane County Pollinator Protection Plan and has worked with community groups to install 16 pollinator demonstration gardens across the county.

Olthof selected as VP Fellowship student

Lynn Olthof was recently selected as the Vita Plus dairy nutrition and management fellowship student at Michigan State University (MSU).  Olthof is the seventh student to participate in the program.  She will spend two summers and four semesters earning her master’s degree in dairy science while simultaneously gaining experience in dairy nutrition and management consulting.

Lynn Olthof

Vita Plus will fund the credits throughout the duration of the experience in return for the research and project support she will provide.

Holstein Association USA recognizes 2020 National Holstein Show champs, class winners

Holstein Association USA recognized outstanding cows and their breeders and owners who did well at National Holstein Shows this year. 

Junior Champions: Midwest Fall National - MS ROLLNVEW JUMP4FUN-RED-ET, Jacob, Logan & Madison Harbaugh, Marion, WI.

Western Spring National: RUANN DOORMAN GAY-91519-ET - Graisson & Mandy Schmidt & Tyler Dickerhoof, Melrose, WI.

Midwest fall national: Spring Heifer Calf, 1, quietcove avalanche faith ET, Harbaughs; Winter heifer calf, Redcarpet Doormn Daytona-ET, Harbaughs; Fall heifer calf City-Slickers DB Bon Voyage Harbaughs.

Winter Yearling heifer: MS RollnVew Jump4Fun-Red-ET, Harboy (JUNIOR CHAPMION); Fall Yearling Heifer, Kamps-Rx AppleB Amaretto-ET, Reggie and Krysty Kamps, Darlington; Senior Three year old Cow: Sabofarm Beemer Jasmine, Tessa VL and Stella Rb Schmocker, Whitewater.

Organic Valley Appoints 3 new Vice Presidents

Organic Valley announced the appointment of three senior leaders as vice presidents of the cooperative. The newly promoted leaders are: Kate Campbell, Vice President of Business Insights and Data Science; Jaclyn Cardin, Vice President of Integrated Brand Marketing and Jennifer Lilla, Vice President of Accounting and Financial Reporting. 

Organic Valley is the nation’s largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative and one of the world’s largest organic consumer brands.  

Newsmakers in the agricultural world