JANESVILLE

For the second straight year, the Kersten family will host the Rock County Dairy Breakfast on their small Janesville farmstead.

The farm has about 140 cows, but only 60 of them are milked. The family raises some crops, but rather than being sold, they’re used as food for the herd.

After rain soaked last year’s breakfast attendees and this year’s original location fell through, Dennis Kersten and his family agreed to host the event again.

“We want to show them what we do,” he said. “We want to show them how we produce and milk what they drink.”

The 43rd annual breakfast runs from 6:30-11 a.m. Saturday at the Kerstens’ farm at 4522 W. Mineral Point Road.

The event will feature an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with yogurt, cheese, ham, applesauce, ice cream, and milk or coffee. Animal displays and tractor wagon rides will accompany kids’ games, crafts and a crafty cow contest.

Dennis’ father bought the original 120-acre farm in 1948, and the family expanded it by 75 acres in 1995. Small or not, the farm still feels the pressure that most dairy farms feel in today’s economy.

With the exception of occasional weekend help, the Kerstens run the operation themselves. With stubbornly low milk prices and ongoing wet weather, business has been tough.

“It’s rough right now until the milk prices stabilize. The price is coming up, but it’s still tough,” Kersten said. “Mother Nature will give you three good days, and then she’ll dump rain on you.”

But for everyone involved, the dairy breakfast will be a celebration.

“We just want to provide the opportunity for people to come out to a farm and see it firsthand and hopefully appreciate the dairy industry even more after visiting,” said Sandy Larson, a fellow dairy farmer and Rock County Dairy Promotion Council member.

Julie Funk, breakfast chairwoman, said the event will focus on family and experiences rather than challenges the agriculture industry is facing.

“We don’t ever want it to become a political event,” she said.

“Our whole goal is to bring people who are far removed from a farm, or who have never been on a farm, and for them to have a positive experience with farmers. We want to show them that farmers are good people; we do take care of our animals, and we do care about our land and community.”

The Kerstens, who said the breakfast wouldn’t be possible without Funk’s help, have two wishes for the event.

“People are curious about what happens on a farm, and we want to show them what we do,” Dennis Kersten said. “We’re excited for that, so we’re going to pray it doesn’t rain on Saturday.”

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