Policymakers tour farms in St. Croix County

St. Croix County Farm Bureau
Greg Zwald of White Pine Berry Farm explains how the family runs its organic berry and vegetable farm as part of a recent St. Croix County Policymaker Farm Tour coordinated by the St. Croix County Farm Bureau. — at White Pine Berry Farm.

ST. CROIX - Given St. Croix County’s proximity to the Twin Cities Metro area, the county is one of the fastest growing, in terms of population, in the state. This growth also means that fewer residents in the county are familiar with agriculture and even rural living.

Due to this trend, the St. Croix County Farm Bureau recently hosted a policymaker farm tour for all elected officials at the local, state and federal level who represent constituents in the St. Croix County. Candidates running for open seats in the fall election were also invited.

Some of the guests included: State Rep. Romaine Quinn; Tom Coulter, County Board of Supervisors, District 13; Bob Feidler, County Board of Supervisors, District 9; Gene Hanson, Town of Warren Chair; Ryan Cornett, Western Wisconsin Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin; and Kim Butler, candidate for State Assembly, District 28.

“We wanted to provide an open environment to learn, discuss and ask questions about farming while visiting three diverse family farms in St. Croix County,” said Leslie Svacina, tour committee chair and St. Croix County Farm Bureau vice president. “We also wanted foster the continued development of relationships between our area farmers and agricultural organizations with local leaders as they make decisions that impact agriculture, small businesses and rural areas in our county.”

Annette Schalla of Bomaz Farms narrates during a wagon ride through the dairy's freestall barn.

During the tour policymakers visited three diverse family farms within St. Croix County. The first stop of the day was at Bomaz Farms of Hammond, Wis. There the Zwald and Schalla families care for 800 milking dairy cows along with all youngstock. The second stop brought participants to K-Lund Angus Farm in Woodville, Wis. Jim and Roxanne Lund raise 200 angus beef cows and their calves.

For the final stop of the day, policymakers visited White Pine Berry Farm of River Falls, Wis. Beginning in 2012, Greg and Irma Zwald have created an interactive agricultural tourism setting for visitors to pick their own organic berries, apples and vegetables, as well as offer an event barn.

In addition to learning about modern farming practices, the farm tour hosts also discussed current agricultural issues and areas of concern relating to how to they manage their farms, small businesses and as rural reside.

Bob Zwald talks about the milking herd at Bomaz Farms during a tour of elected officials and candidates at his family's dairy farm as part of a recent St. Croix County Policymaker Farm Tour coordinated by the St. Croix County Farm Bureau

St. Croix County Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, driven by its 200-plus members who farm or work in an agricultural setting in St. Croix County.