Editor’s note: This article is part of a series featuring women members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
Sarah Sacker is a dairy farmer near Monroe, Wisconsin. The milk her dairy herd produces is shipped to nearby Klondike Cheese Company where it’s made into cheese and yogurt.
When and why did you begin farming?
Sacker: I grew up farming alongside my parents on our dairy farm. I stayed involved on the farm after graduating in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in dairy science and life-sciences communication. I helped with chores on evenings and weekends. Working in agri-marketing for several years allowed me to gain the perspective of both lifestyles. It helped my husband and I realize dairy farming is something we want to continue to pursue.
What do you produce on your farm and why?
Sacker: We milk 100 Holsteins; the milk they produce is shipped to Klondike Cheese Company. It’s made into cheese and Greek yogurt under the Buholzer Brothers and Odyssey labels. We farm 230 acres and grow the majority of the forage needed to feed our livestock each year.
Does your family help with the farm?
Sacker: My husband, Josh Schenk, works full-time off the farm but still plays a big role in the farm’s day-to-day operations. He helps with chores before and after work, and on weekends. He also helps with fieldwork; together we make management and crop decisions. My father, Jim Sacker, is mostly retired but he helps fix things around the farm and lends a helping hand where needed.
What do you think are the best online resources for women who are farming or who are looking to start farming?
Sacker: I find social media to be a good resource for connecting with other women who farm. Farming can be socially and geographically isolating, but social media makes it easy to connect with others whether you’re looking to connect about something farm-related or just “life stuff.” Podcasts also are a great resource; there’s a podcast for about every topic. One of my favorites is SharkFarmer because there’s such a great diversity of guests on the show.
Whom do you admire as setting a good farming or lifestyle example and why?
Sacker: Two people I really admire in agriculture right now are Erin Grawe and Megan Daluge. They’re sisters who dairy-farm together near Janesville. I admire the way they share their farm story as well as bits of their personal lives with the public. They take time to educate consumers about agriculture; they step outside their comfort zones to achieve their goals and inspire other women.
When and why did you join the Farm Bureau?
Sacker: I joined the Farm Bureau my senior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was feeling a little lost and looking for a way to stay connected as my time with my collegiate organizations drew to a close. I also was interested in learning more about the role Farm Bureau plays in supporting and influencing agricultural legislation.
When and why did you take on a leadership position with the Farm Bureau?
Sacker: After I graduated from college and moved back to Monroe I became a board member for the Green County Farm Bureau. I was still working in marketing at the time and had time to dedicate to the role. I wanted to help find ways to involve younger agriculturalists in the organization.
How does the organization most help you? How do you think it most helps women members?
Sacker: I think one of the most valuable aspects of Farm Bureau is keeping farmers informed about how legislation can affect agriculture. The Farm Bureau represents us with a unified voice and provides opportunities for members to speak with legislators. Farm Bureau does a great job providing opportunities for women to connect with other women, in an industry that’s traditionally viewed as male-dominated. But I’ve never been made to feel less than my male counterparts within the organization.
What would you like others to know about the organization?
Sacker: I don’t think a lot of farmers realize how much Farm Bureau helps shape agricultural policy and ensures that agriculture isn’t forgotten about in the lawmaking process.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that today’s farmers face?
Sacker: The biggest challenges I think farmers face are public perception and sharing resources with the non-agricultural population. Consumers in general aren’t knowledgeable about production agriculture. That makes it easy to blame the industry for issues related to road use and maintenance, the environment and zoning.
What do you see for your farm and farming in general 20 years from now?
Sacker: I think we’re going to see technology continue to have big impacts on production agriculture. I also think we’re going to see smaller diversified farms becoming a trend rather than larger more-specialized farms.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation represents farms of different sizes, commodities and management styles. The organization is comprised of voting members and associate members. Members belong to one of 61 county Farm Bureaus, which are run by a board of directors comprised of people working in production agriculture. Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization. Each year county voting members set the policy that guides the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation on local, state and national affairs.
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Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.