COLUMNISTS

End of the year is time for reflections and optimism

Kevin Krentz

Here we are at the end of another year. It hasn’t been easy, but we survived. In many ways we even progressed and like farmers do, I look ahead to next year with optimism. 

Kevin Krentz

The past year started with high hopes after a rough 2020 but soon it was met with continued concern. We saw higher prices and were holding on to hope that COVID-19 would soon be a distant memory. It still is a hope as we head into 2022. We did see better yields this year. A positive, nonetheless.

Major supply chain disruptions that we first saw as a result of the pandemic struck hard in the later part of 2021. The rising cost of inflation deeply hit the agricultural community on everything. Combined with volatile fuel costs and extensive labor shortages across every industry, the cost of debt continues to rise for Wisconsin farmers. One example that will be front and center early in 2022 will be the cost of fertilizer.

From an organizational level at Wisconsin Farm Bureau, we were pleased to be able to hold events throughout the year once again. Farmers and agriculturalists work through many ups and downs and the best way to cope with the stress is by talking and gathering with others who understand.

I’m proud of the work we did in showcasing farmers and their initiatives in sustainability this year. Farm Bureau hosted a Leaders of the Land Series across the state sharing these stories and we continue to seek out opportunities in being a part of this conversation with farmers and consumers alike.  

Looking forward to the future we have some work to do in many areas.

We need to adequately address the labor shortages we are seeing, especially in agriculture. Agriculture needs an immigration system that works in Wisconsin and across the U.S. This would entail the administration having a strong foreign policy and one that would protect our borders, allow for adequate immigration to fill our job needs and promote agriculture exports across the globe.

We have an aging infrastructure and it needs updating. Ports and rail along with local roads help our value-added products make it around the globe. Broadband is essential. Connecting farmers with consumers along with monitoring crops and livestock in real-time must happen to set the next generation of farmers up for success. Farm Bureau will keep working to make sure that significant dollars are spent on agricultural infrastructure needs.

With how large our dairy sector is, Wisconsin needs to see change in the markets. We need a market that allows for more products to be priced while creating more transparency within the market and the depooling process. 

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s mission is “empowering the Wisconsin agricultural community through our grassroots membership to preserve and promote the advancement of agriculture”. Each year, county voting members set the policy that guides WFBF on local, state and national affairs. Our members look at challenges like these and set policy with the intention of moving agriculture forward. I’m proud of the work we do, but much like at the farm level, there is always more to be done.

Despite the challenges, there is still plenty for agriculture to be optimistic about. Commodity markets provided a renewed sense of optimism in 2021 as we saw inverted grain markets this fall. The rising commodity prices we experienced throughout the fall are a phenomenon we do not typically see and gives farmers a thread of hope moving into 2022.

As we welcome in 2022, I sincerely wish my fellow farmers a successful year.

Kevin Krentz is president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation