Editor’s note: This article is part of a series featuring women members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
Krista Dolan manages the dairy herd that she and her family co-own near Dodgeville, Wisconsin. She also serves as president of the Iowa County Farm Bureau. She says the Farm Bureau has encouraged her to share her story and passion for agriculture.
When and why did you begin farming?
Dolan: My husband, Ryan Dolan, and I began farming in 2009 when we became partners with his parents in the family farm. After college we both decided the farm is where we wanted to be.
What do you produce on your farm and why?
Dolan: We milk 260 Holstein cows twice daily and raise all our replacement heifers. We farm 680 acres -- growing alfalfa, corn, winter wheat and winter rye to feed our cattle.
Does your family help with the farm?
Dolan: Ryan and I co-own Dolan Farms LLC with his parents, Paul and Mary Dolan. My husband mixes the feed, does field work and hauls manure. My father-in-law manages the crops, hauls manure and helps feed heifers. My focus is herd management, fresh-cow management and raising calves from birth to about six months of age. I also do the bookkeeping and cattle records. Employee management is a team effort. Our sons Kaleb and Gage also help with chores.
What do you think are the best online resources for women who are farming or who are looking to start farming?
Dolan: I reach out to fellow farmers and people in the industry for advice. The Dairy Girl Network has helped me network with so many people.
Whom do you admire as setting a good farming or lifestyle example and why?
Dolan: I don’t admire any one person specifically; each farmer has his or her own talents and strengths. We can all learn from each other. I was raised with a farming background and learned the value of hard work at an early age. I’ve been raising our sons the same way. I want them to see the rewards of hard work and devoting time to the life you love.
When and why did you join the Farm Bureau?
Dolan: I became a voting member of the Iowa County Farm Bureau in 2011. Before that I was actively involved in my husband’s membership. We felt it was a great way to meet people who have similar interests.
When and why did you take on a leadership position with the Farm Bureau?
Dolan: Some members of our county Farm Bureau had asked my husband about becoming more involved in the Ag in the Classroom program. He wasn’t interested, but volunteered me because I had recently graduated with a degree in elementary education and thought I would be interested. I definitely was. I love going to classrooms, discussing agriculture and farming. I then moved on to become the chairperson of our county’s Young Farmer and Agriculturalist program. I currently serve as president of our county’s Farm Bureau.
How does the organization most help you? How do you think it most helps women members?
Dolan: Farm Bureau has really helped me become a leader. It has encouraged me to share my story and passion for agriculture. Farm Bureau encourages women to run for leadership roles.
What would you like others to know about the organization?
Dolan: Farm Bureau is a great way to be involved in an agriculture organization -- whether your interest is working with kids, community service or formulating policy. It reaches all aspects of agriculture; it doesn’t focus on just one.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that today’s farmers face?
Dolan: The biggest challenges farmers face currently are price instability, taxes and regulations.
What do you see for your farm and farming in general 20 years from now?
Dolan: In 20 years I hope we’re still farming and working on transitioning our sons into the family-farm business. I’ll also be excited to see advances in technology.
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.