Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association recognizes award winners at Summer Tour
Lodi, Wis. – Acknowledging their dedication to excellence within Wisconsin’s beef industry, the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association (WCA) honored four award recipients during the 2021 Summer Tour hosted in the Madison Area.
Farm partners Jerry Huth and Josh Scharf earned the WCA Environmental Stewardship Award. Jerry Huth started Huth Polled Herefords in 1962 and grew the farm to include 400 acres. Huth Polled Herefords markets bulls and genetics throughout the United States. To expand the operation and plan for a transition of ownership, Scharf joined as an employee. He is now a partner in the Huth Cattle commercial herd. The expansion and addition of the black baldy herd were made possible by utilizing state-owned land for pasture.
“We had the opportunity a couple of years ago to pick up some land immediately to the west of our property which was owned by the Wisconsin DNR, and we developed that. We’re up to 140 cows, and it is going well,” Huth said.
Scharf led this venture, managing the pasture and working with DNR staff to meet their expectations and land use goals. Scarf said it was not ideal pastureland at the start.
“A lot of this land was woody vegetation, but we are going into the fourth year now and starting to see pretty good results. It’s amazing what you can do without having to burn land or spray chemicals, and largely without machines.”
This commercial cow herd is made of Hereford-Angus crossbred females who are rotationally grazed every two days. The partnership between Huth and Scharf includes Scharf’s ownership in the operation growing over time.
“When they eat that grass, they are revitalizing the soil,” Huth said. “They’re making this plant optimal for photosynthesis, which optimizes carbon sequestering, and they leave behind a product that is good fertilizer for the soil. The bottom line is producing a high-density protein product that is extremely high in zinc and various vitamins. We have to get that story out. We’re not the problem. We’re the solution.”
One of the Wisconsin DNR representatives who worked with Huth and Scarf, Mary C. Anderson, received the Friend of the Cattlemen Award.
In her current position with the Wisconsin DNR, Anderson established several grazing operations on public lands.
“When I first got on board with the DNR, we had about 20 sites,” Anderson said. “Those sites are growing, and it is going to take all of us before we move the needle.”
She has been involved with the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, which is an effort that expands across the United States. Huth said Anderson advocates for cattle producers to work with the DNR in expanding their grazing operations and promotes grazing as beneficial to the environment.
Anderson has been a grazing supporter for 30 years. She and her husband raise 40 cows and youngstock on their farm in Whitehall.
“With a little bit of labor and pounding some wire, we can increase our soil health,” she said. “We can increase water infiltration. We can get a better rate of gain on our calves. We can get better conditioning on our momma cows. There are a lot of positive things that intensive grazing can do for our farms.”
Kurt Hallstrand also accepted the Friend of the Cattlemen Award. Hallstrand and his family own and operate Hallstrand Angus, a registered 280 Angus cow seed stock operation in Price County.
Hallstrand was honored because of his active involvement in beef producer organizations. He is the current president and founding member of the North Central WI Cattlemen’s Association (NCWCA). Organized in 2008, NCWCA members include commercial and registered producers from 11 north and central Wisconsin counties.
Sandra Stuttgen, Taylor County UW-Extension agriculture agent said, “Since its inception, Hallstrand has been a driving force in the mission of NCWCA, to build the reputation of its producer members and the beef industry of North Central Wisconsin, by producing the quality cattle today’s markets require.”
Hallstrand said connecting with producers at events such as seed stock sales helps the industry move forward.
“We’ve been able to introduce cattle to people that were just interested in having a couple of cattle and now have 40-50 cattle herds and are selling beef off the farm,” Hallstrand said. “It is good to get together and share information about what works and what doesn't work. That's what it's all about, the networking. As cattlemen, we need to be able to work with other groups and people across the process.”
Hallstrand is also the current vice president of the Wisconsin Angus Association and recently completed a six-year term on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Board of Directors. Hallstrand served from May 2015-May 2021.
“Serving on the DATCP Board was a great experience to see all of the different forms of agriculture throughout Wisconsin and what it has done,” he said.
Jeff Swenson, DATCP’s livestock and meat specialist, said Hallstrand provided input for programs that impact Wisconsin beef cattle producers such as Wisconsin fencing laws and the impact of the wolf population on the livelihood of livestock producers in Wisconsin.