December 17, 2009
GUEST COMMENTAY: Rosendale Dairy: It’s a commitment
By Jim Ostrom
When Rosendale Dairy’s three partners — John Vosters, Todd Willer and I — were boys on Wisconsin dairy farms, we imagined little beyond waking early, milking, feeding and caring for cows.
When my grandfather was 19, there were 140,000 Wisconsin dairy farms. Now there are 14,000.
The 20-to-50 cow farms of the past several generations disappeared as many children of dairy farms followed other careers. The 1.9 million dairy cows that at one time supplied milk in Wisconsin now number about 1.2 million.
But we remain committed to the dairy industry and to producing wholesome food for our nation. We are also committed to the environment and to our Wisconsin roots. We are committed to doing what is right — and taking pride in it.
Complete and detailed project plans were submitted and county and state statutory approvals were obtained. The dairy has received more than 30 permits and approvals and invested millions of dollars to ensure the health and comfort of its herd, using technology and personal herd management practices maximizing the well-being of the cows and the environment.
Two people who spoke against the modification at the DNR hearing called the morning after and asked for a dairy tour before heading home to Illinois. After the tour, one told operations manager Bill Eberle, “Someone asked me if there are any good CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). Now I can tell them there is one.”
The other visitor e-mailed Eberlee after getting home to Illinois, writing, “Thanks for guiding (us) through Rosendale Dairy yesterday. You clearly are professional in what you do, and in the operations of the farm. While it’s difficult to see small family farms being replaced by CAFOs, clearly you run your operation efficiently, and successfully.” Read More
This article mirrors my experiences. When given the chance to really show and tell about how our farms and ranches operate, people become very comfortable with the great job we do in raising food in this country. It seems easy for consumers to hate the farm down the road that they think is doing bad things, even though they don’t know who lives there or what exactly they do. Taking the initiative to introduce yourself and build a relationship with consumers is absolutely what we need to be doing in agriculture.