Corn and soybean growers, pork producers look to build upon 2022 successes

Michelle Stangler
Many of the educational sessions were packed, with only standing room for the Wisconsin Corn and Soy Expo held at the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells for an opening session.

While input costs continue to rise, many farmers are looking to strategically build upon the 2022 year into the 2023 planting season.

The emphasis of coming together to learn was showcased at this year’s Corn and Soy Expo held in the Wisconsin Dells. Bringing in over 1,200 growers and pork producers, the event included an expo where many companies introduced new technologies during educational sessions focused on research, outlook, crop insurance and more.

“You learn so much from other farmers by just talking about how they operate and what they do on their farms as well learning a lot in the educational sessions,” said newly elected Wisconsin Soybean Association president Sara Stelter.

The central Wisconsin soybean grower was also appointed to the United Soybean Board. Serving in these leadership positions alongside farming and other commitments can be tough she said, but to Stelter, it’s worth it.

Sara Stelter

“It’s sometimes tough, but I also like to remain involved in my local community because I think that’s really important for us, as farmers, to not only be involved in our farm organizations, but to also be involved in community organizations,” she said.

As an advocate of women becoming involved in farm organizations, Stetler continues to learn where soybeans being utilized in the country, as well as the innovative ideas backed by soybean checkoff dollars. Stetler is also excited over how research has helped producers to grow soybeans more sustainability.

While the checkoff dollars are put towards for the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, Stetler will lead the organization that focuses on policy activities, which relies on voluntary membership dues.

“I see a lot of great things coming in the future for the soybean industry,” said Stetler.

While Stetler is continuing her involvement serving on leadership boards, farmer Mike Berget is stepping down after serving six years on the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association board, most recently as vice president.

Berget, a corn grower from Darlington, began his involvement in the organization by attending meetings. Little did he know who involved he would become. Over the years he has traveled to Washington D.C., to become involved on the national level as part of the National Corn Growers Association.

Mike Berget

During his time on the board, Berget he has not only met many lifelong friends, but helped tell the stories of corn growers.

“I think promoting the corn, and getting our message out is so important. We’re a small majority, and we need people to tell the story that we have clean water, a good family life and just a good way of life,” said Berget.

He remembers 6 years ago when the corn growers were not as connected as they are today with pork producers and soybean growers.

Go hand in hand

“They go hand in hand. We all have to work together,” said Berget, who plans on remaining active on both the national and state level as a member.

With pork producers relying on the corn to feed their animals as well as soybeans, the organizations are looking forward to continuing their partnership.

AV Roth

Howard “AV” Roth, a fifth-generation hog farmer from Wauzeka, agrees.

“We need to have these connections so agriculture in Wisconsin stays strong, because if we are divided, people that would like to see agriculture go away, would win,” Roth said.

As a past president of the National Pork Producers Council and now current Wisconsin Pork Association board member, Roth continues to be involved in opportunities to help tell the story of pork farmers. An effective way for members to become involved is to tell those stories to their elected officials.

As an advocate of the pork industry, Roth traveled to to Washington D.C. to hear the Proposition 12 case before the US Supreme Court. The case, which would set new standards for confinement systems for sows, is of special interest to pork producers across the country. A decision is expected to be made public in late February or early March.

The experience of seeing the two sides present their cases to the high court solidified his reasons for pursuing a board position in the pork industry.

“I just thought it was my turn to tell my story,” Roth said.

While African Swine Fever is still a hot topic for pork producers, Roth hopes state officials will implement a certified swine sampling collection training program. Seventeen states are already enrolled in such a program that would create a trained cadre of sample collectors (prior to a disease outbreak) to certify and collect samples that would help Federal and State animal health officials determine where disease is present and to support the permitted movement of animals.

While attendees absorbed valuable information during educational sessions and networked with other producers over the two-day conference, Roth and many others return year after year for the sense of community.

“When you come here, Wisconsin pork is like a family,” said Roth.