Editor’s note: This article is part of a series featuring women members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
LODI, Wis. – There’s a lot of pride in taking care of land and animals to produce delicious dairy products for people, says Sydney Endres, who plans to return to the farm one day. She currently serves as an area representative and type-traits appraiser for the American Jersey Cattle Association. Endres also serves as the Young Farmer and Agriculturalist chair for the Columbia County Farm Bureau.
When and why did you begin farming?
Endres: I fell in love with cows growing up around them on my family farm, Jazzy Jerseys. I plan to return to the farm because it’s rewarding to work with cows and family every day, though sometimes challenging. Every day there’s something new on the farm.
What do you produce on your farm and why?
Endres: We raise Jersey cows; we milk about 800 cows. With young stock and dry cows we have about 1,700 head of cattle. Their milk is mainly used for producing Mozzarella cheese. We farm 1,200 acres, growing different crops to feed our herd. We also contract-grow sweet corn and peas for a canning company. We recently became seed dealers for Beck’s Hybrids.
We milk cows because we were raised on dairy farms and continue to love it. My dad is the first generation at our current farm but he comes from a long line of farmers.
Does your family help with the farm?
Endres: My dad, David Endres, is the farm manager. My younger brother, Mitchell Endres, manages the crop and milk transport. My older brother, Vinny Endres, is in school full-time but helps with different technologies on the farm and overall management. We have a team of nine other people who help with cows, crops and equipment maintenance.
What do you think are the best online resources for women who are farming or who are looking to start farming?
Endres: One of my favorite resources specific to dairy is the Dairy Girl Network. Women from across the country are online asking questions, sharing insights and connecting with each other.
Whom do you admire as setting a good farming or lifestyle example and why?
Endres: My dad and mom – Patricia Endres passed away in 2010 – set a great farming-lifestyle example for us. Growing up we had responsibilities on the farm, but we also were able to take family vacations and participate in school activities. My parents’ involvement in our community and respect for our farm team set a foundation for us to continue farming in the future.
When and why did you join the Farm Bureau?
Endres: I joined Collegiate Farm Bureau in 2013 while I was attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At my first Young Farmer and Agriculturalist Conference, a Columbia County Farm Bureau member recruited me to join; I’ve been a member ever since. I initially joined because of the opportunities to promote agriculture, but now I also enjoy the impact my membership can have on forming agricultural policy.
When and why did you take on a leadership position with the Farm Bureau?
Endres: I became a board member in 2019 for Columbia County Farm Bureau. My goal was to bring a young-agriculturalist and dairy-farming perspective to our board. I started in 2020 as the Young Farmer and Agriculturalist chair. My goal is to connect more young farmers with each other in Columbia County and neighboring counties.
How does the organization most help you? How do you think it most helps women members?
Endres: I have grown individually as a young professional in agriculture through Farm Bureau mainly because of the people I’ve met. Both men and women are provided the same opportunities, and we're able to learn from each other through our memberships.
What would you like others to know about the organization?
Endres: Before I attended a resolutions meeting at the annual meeting, I had no idea the voice I could have as an individual on agricultural policy. When Wisconsin Farm Bureau says it’s a voice for farmers, it means it. Farm Bureau listens to members and makes visible change on a local, state and national level.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that today’s farmers face?
Endres: I think one of the biggest challenges some farmers face today is opening up and sharing what they do. In years past it maybe hadn’t been as critical to share how we do things. But currently so much trust in our products can be gained if stories are shared directly from the farmer. And we have so much good to share.
What do you see for your farm and farming in general 20 years from now?
Endres: My goal for our farm is to continue becoming more sustainable in producing milk. I’d like to start processing some of our milk into bottled milk and ice cream, and create a fun tourism experience for people who want to visit our cows. Big picture I want to ensure our farm is prepared for success long-term if another generation wishes to continue farming.
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.