Young farmers group connects ag professionals
To learn more
For more information about the Young Farmer and Agriculturist organization, contact Allen and Nancy Dornacker for Jefferson and Walworth counties at (262) 629-1870 or Maria McGinnis for Rock, Dane and Green counties at (715) 222-4053.
ELKHORN Postcards and coffee table books make farm life look so inviting.
Big-eyed Jersey cows peer over rustic fences. A spotless tractor pulls a rectangular baler through a uniformly ripe field of hay. The guy driving the tractor is a rugged-looking, middle-aged type sporting a feed cap that matches both his equipment and his outfit.
A more realistic image would feature a jammed baler attached to a grubby tractor operated by an exhausted driver. The cows either would have escaped or developed mastitis.
Because agriculture is a complex industry and because farm life can be isolating, the Farm Bureau developed the young farmer committee. To be more precise, it is "Young Farmer and Agriculturist."
"Agriculturist" refers to people working in the field of agriculture who are not farmers— seed or machine salespeople, extension agents, ag teachers, ag lenders and the many other professions that are connected to agriculture.
The organization's membership is between 18 and 35 years old.
Jordan Pieczynski and her fiancé, Adam Hurtgen, are typical members. Both are in their early 20s. He operates a dairy farm, and she runs Whinney Wear, a small business that makes gear for horses.
"We're getting to know other professionals in the area and around the state," Pieczynski said. "We had a bowling outing and had about 30 people come. Adam has lived here for all his life, and there were people there he had never met."
Casey Langan, executive director of public relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, said Young Farmer is important to its members' professional growth—and for the stability of the profession as a whole.
"This group is really the next generation of leaders for ag in Wisconsin," Langan said. "And I think it provides a much needed vehicle for social interaction—farming, by its nature, is somewhat of an isolating job."
Some of the organization's members come from "long lines of farm bureau families," Langan said.
Others are just learning the importance of advocacy at the state and federal level.
Every few years, between 10 and 15 members of the group go to Washington to visit the National Farm Bureau and learn about issues facing farmers.
It's often their first trip to Washington, and sometimes it's their first trip out of state—or on a plane.
"They start to see the importance of wearing another hat," Langan said. "They realize they have to advocate for their industry."