In honor of its first-ever special edition dedicated to young farmers, Top Producer spoke with producers from across the U.S. about their business roles, the projects on which they're focused and the opportunities they see ahead. Brother-and-sister team Doug and Tammy Wiedenbeck (37 and 27) of Lancaster, Wis., are co-managers at Riverview Farms raising cattle, corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa “I recently passed my Certified Crop Advisor exam and [plan] to use that information to improve our nutrient-management program," Doug says. Meanwhile, Tammy is focused on developing the cattle herd and working with lawmakers and consumers to better understand agriculture. “I completed the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute and want to have a voice in government on issues related to farmers," she says. Top Producer's The Young Farmer Issue mails May 31 to readers.
Title: These co-managers have split responsibilities. Doug focuses on field work, crop production, daily cattle care and record-keeping. He is also senior ag research equipment operator at the Lancaster Ag Research Station. Tammy helps with cattle chores and focuses on animal health. She works as a marketing and field representative for Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association and has a side photography business. She maintains farm financial and cattle records and manages online advertising and livestock sales.
Doug: I just became a certified crop adviser to help tie into improving nutrient management and herbicide programs. I now use what I learned on the farm and at work. I would also like to improve the accuracy of my records for nutrient management.
Tammy: I’m focused on genetics on the beef bulls that we buy. My niche is Shorthorn, but we have Angus and Red Angus also. I want to improve our cattle with higher growth rates and to impress our customers with our feeder cattle. I want to continue improving on communication and leadership. I recently completed the Leadership Institute through Wisconsin Farm Bureau and continue to be involved with organizations to advocate for agriculture and to have a voice in government on issues directly relating to farmers.
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Tammy: I would like to buy another high-genetics bull and make more videos to spread word about farming with the goal of making them go national and viral. Everyone eats food. Farmers are the reason that we can have that privilege, and there should be an appreciation for that. I also want to broaden my knowledge of agriculture in other countries. We went to New Zealand in December and loved meeting farmers over there.
Doug: I would like to improve our cattle-handling facility by adding more guard rail around the lots, causing less stress on cattle. Years of wear and tear have taken a toll on the facility. I feel our farm is more sustainable with cattle because we use manure management on fields. I recently added a 8120 Massey Ferguson to our line-up of equipment to accompany our father’s 8150, and we might put row shut-offs on our planter in future. I want to continue to use the farm to educate the public about where food comes from. A man from Switzerland that I met through work recently came to see the farm. My wife’s nieces and nephews enjoy helping us on the farm also.
Tammy: If it weren't for my brother and parents being home when I'm gone, I wouldn't be able to be out, have a job and learn as much as I am or advocate for farmers without their help. We all bring something special to the table. At the end of the day, we are a team and depend on each other. I love the farm, my family and friends that help us, too. No amount of money could replace the importance they have in my life.
Doug: I’m always watching the weather, which is a huge part of farming. One quote that comes to mind is, "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” The hardest part about farming is just getting started. We are just a small family farm, but we are passionate about our work and hope it can help us accomplish our future dreams. Mistakes happen, and you have to be able to laugh at yourself to get through some of the tough times. I want to see the farm stay in the family for over 200 years.
Attend the 2017 Tomorrow's Top Producer business conference for young farmers July 20-21 in Nashville.