COLUMNISTS

2022 sets stage for exciting years to come for dairy farmers

Brody Stapel

We entered 2022 with a host of unknowns. Milk prices looked strong, but interest rates, feed prices and fuel costs were all rising — and quickly. We were coming out of year 2 of a pandemic with the promise of more “normal” life.

With the year firmly behind us, it brought some challenges — namely rampant inflation and international affairs impacting markets. However, I will look fondly on 2022 in the history books.

Financially, dairy farmers finally found some breathing room after years of extending themselves. Warm temperatures allowed for a strong harvest. Efforts by local farmer-led groups drove innovation and improvement in more environmentally friendly farming practices.

I have seen this firsthand in my local watershed group, Sheboygan River Progressive Farmers. Our group’s foundation lies within farmer-to-farmer collaboration, networking and idea sharing. At meetings and field demonstrations, we learn about reduced- and no-tilling, planting green, cover cropping and more. Hearing from other farmers about practices they have tried is invaluable for us as we try new techniques on our farm.

Edge has proudly championed for more farmer-led environmental innovation for many years, including dedicating resources to our sister organization, Farmers for Sustainable Food. The work done with these partnering organizations continues to garner national attention, winning multiple national awards. This September, Edge was named the leading partner in a grant through USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-smart Commodities program.

Through this pilot program, Edge will build upon the framework we built through FSF to enhance the work our farmers are doing to build more environmentally, financially and socially sustainable farms. That work will be foundational to our work in 2023.

However, 2023 also brings another key issue of focus for our group — discussions surrounding the farm bill. Ag policy is at the core of what Edge does and key to the next edition of the landmark bill will be milk pricing reform. Edge remains committed to reform that reinforces trust between farmers and their processors, focusing on increased transparency and good faith relationships. Enhancing these relationships will build true strategic partnerships and a vibrant dairy community moving forward.

I am always amazed the strength of our agricultural community. 2022 has really set the stage for an exciting next few years for dairy farmers — in Wisconsin, the Upper Midwest and beyond.

Brody Stapel

Brody Stapel is a Wisconsin dairy farmer and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative president