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In the past, cameras were looked upon as a luxury farmers used to capture important family milestones. And if their descendants were lucky, they snapped a few photos of the family farm now and then.

Today cameras are everywhere and are fast becoming essential tools for running the farm. Not only do they help protect animals and facilities from harm and misuse, they've fast become a vehicle for helping farmers communicate with consumers on social media platforms.

Several businesses were on hand at the WPS Farm Show this week educating ag producers on the benefits of installing strategically placed security cameras on their farms, as well as helping to get the word out to consumers about their businesses.

Keeping an eye out

"This time of year a lot of people are looking to use cameras to observe calving pens. However, the top three security uses for cameras are to monitor fuel tanks, tools and letting farmers know who is on their property that's not supposed to be there," said John McGuire of AgTech Business LLC. "A lot of people drive onto farms to scope things out and see what they can steal."

In the past seven years that McGuire has operated his business, the number of thefts on farms has grown...and so have his sales.

"Many farmers aren't on the farms 24:7 anymore and with cameras they can monitor what's going on remotely," he said.

In addition to monitoring for intruders or serving as a deterrent for break-ins, McGuire says farms often use cameras to observe daily operations and provide protection for their animals and employees.

"Owners are making sure that their employees are staying safe and doing things the proper way and not putting themselves in a bad situation," McGuire said. "Farmers also love their animals and this is a way they can monitor their welfare."

McGuire says he serves farms of all sizes, with the average farm using between 6-7 cameras.

"I have guys who buy one camera just to watch a calving pen and others who install 75-100 cameras on farms with lost of animals," McGuire said. "Once they see what the cameras can do for them, they usually add 3-5 more."

Let me tell your story

Dan Hagenow discovered his passion behind a camera as a grade school student. He honed that hobby all through high school and into college where he received his first video production internship. 

"I worked in sales for a couple of years after graduation but took on a few jobs here and there making video. One thing led to another and a year and a half ago I decided to take a leap of faith and haven't looked back," said Hagenow of his business titled dh video creation.

Today Hagenow is not only using his creative skills to make high quality video productions for businesses, he is also helping farm families and agribusiness owners to tell their stories. 

Born and raised on a small dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, Hagenow is able to capture the passion - and hard work - that farmers put into their businesses day in and day out.

"Some farm families want to tell the story about how the farm has been in the family for several generations or they want to educate the consumers, which is so important nowadays," he said. "Everything I do is to help educate people and show them that farmers not only care about their animals but how they are good stewards of the land in a 2-3 minute video that can go on Facebook or their website."

Hagenow says different times of the year are more popular to shoot videos, with harvest and summertime being the most in demand.

"It's always nice to send the drone up and get a shot of a nice green hayfield or an epic sunset or sunrise with a nice chopper out in the field," he said. "A lot of people use drones for agronomy purposes, and I use them to capture lasting images."

Hagenow spends anywhere from one to two days onsite shooting and then heads back to the office to edit the footage and create the final video, which can take up to two weeks.

"I produced about 100 videos last year, averaging about 2 a week," he said.

Hagenow has produced videos for major farms shows including World Dairy Expo and Farm Technology Days. He has also had the opportunity to shoot a video for Service Motor Co. featuring former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

"To be part of a video shoot featuring Jordy Nelson in my first year in business was pretty awesome!" he said with a laugh.

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