FREDONIA, Wis. – Don Hamm of Sandy Loam Farm near Fredonia represents the sixth generation of his family to farm. Hamm and his wife, Diane Hamm, purchased the farm from his parents – Joe and Betty Hamm – in 1994.
Along with his brothers – Randy and Rick Hamm – the family currently milks 350 cows three times daily and farms about 400 acres.
Don Hamm joined Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 in summer 2018. He is the president of the Wisconsin state board of the National Farmers Organization.
“I thought it was important to look at the dairy industry as a whole and discuss what things we could change,” Hamm said about the 31-member task force.
Some of the issues plaguing the dairy industry are national issues, but there are many issues at the state level where he said he thinks Wisconsin’s dairy industry could help find solutions.
He is serving on three subcommittees of Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0.
- dairy and rural community vitality
- access to capital
- price volatility and profitability
Hamm serves as chairman of the town of Saukville. In that position he addresses road funding and traffic issues. He brings that experience to the task force’s dairy and rural-community-vitality subcommittee. He’s been working with other subcommittee members to draft a recommendation about transportation funding.
The recommendation addresses several points.
- It mandates that a set percentage of the total transportation budget for the state of Wisconsin would go to local roads.
- Class A trucks used to haul feed and/or manure should be treated the same as milk trucks – with a heavy-truck fee.
- It supports a local wheel tax for towns and/or counties.
- It looks at road bonding through insurance companies or a line of credit.
- Farms that are a certain size could partner with local towns to help build roads to a major highway.
- Dyed-fuel tax for farm equipment would go directly to townships, not through the state’s general-transportation fund.
According to minutes of the Jan. 23 access-to-capital subcommittee meeting, Hamm will work with Bradley Guse, senior vice-president of agribusiness banking for BMO Harris Bank N.A. and the chairman of the subcommittee. They will draft a recommendation to update existing Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority programs. They would recommend making funds available for producers to take advantage of available technologies — such as sand separators and other manure-management technologies.
The minutes also showed discussion on how multiple farms could take advantage of technology at a central location. Jon Accola, feed-division manager for Premier Cooperative and subcommittee member, discussed the possibility of funds for pilot programs. Such programs could be used by multiple producers and be beneficial for Wisconsin’s entire livestock industry. Hamm and Guse will work to draft a recommendation on that possibility.