Goers named Outstanding Young Farmer of the YearBy:
Lee Pulaski [email protected]
Matt Goers, the 2019 recipient of the Shawano County Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year, is shown here in the barn on the Goers Family Dairy Farm in the Town of Herman. Goers was honored at the Shawano Area Agricultural Society’s annual awards banquet Friday night at The Main Event in Cecil.
When Matthew Goers told his classmates in school that he planned to continue to operate the family’s dairy business, some dismissed it, saying he was going to be “just a farmer.”
Now, Goers is a farmer that is Shawano County’s Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year. Goers and other agriculture award winners were honored at a Shawano Area Agricultural Society banquet Friday at The Main Event in Cecil.
“I’m very proud of what our family has done,” Goers said as he accepted the award. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone who has laid down the groundwork for me.”
Goers and his older brother, Jeff, operate the Goers Family Dairy Farm in the Town of Herman, the fifth generation to live and work on the farm. The farm was started as 160 acres in 1869 and will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in grand style by hosting this year’s Shawano County Brunch on the Farm.
“We look forward to celebrating our 150 years this year and hopefully 150 more,” Goers said.
Goers is a 2002 honors graduate of Gresham Community School, where he was a member and officer in the school’s FFA program. He took business and marketing classes at the College of Menominee Nation, and he completed one year of a livestock management program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, where he also completed an artificial insemination course, Berg said.
For Goers, accepting the Outstanding Young Farmer award evoked a memory of 17 years at The Woodland in Gresham, when he stood up with his senior class and told his peers what he planned to do with his life. When he said he would continue the longstanding family tradition of farming, many people automatically assumed he wasn’t going to get a college education or “get a real job.”
There was one person, though, who went up to him that night long ago, shook his hand, and praised him for continuing the farming tradition.
“That was one point when I knew farming was in my blood, and I wanted to continue doing it,” Goers said.
Goers’ parents, David and Marilyn, had 24 cows as part of the operation when they owned the farm. Goers took over operations in 2014, according to Seth Berg, the 2018 recipient for Outstanding Young Farmer and this year’s award presenter.
“David and Marilyn installed an excellent work ethic in their four children by working together as a true family farm,” Berg said, noting Goers and his siblings spent many hours working in the barns and the fields. “From a very young age, Matthew has had a love for cows and dairy. His family can remember him, as a toddler, watching from the living room window and being able to identify each cow by its name.”
Goers even had his own paper cow collection, which he constructed and named himself.
“These young, innocent moments lead to his passion for the industry and helped to build an impressive herd,” Berg said, noting that the herd has 88 cows classified as very good and seven designated as excellent. “His attention to detail and always striving to improve the family herd is one of the major contributions to the overall success of the dairy.”
Goers went from paper cows to real cows in no time, according to Berg, and early on was interested in genetics and breeding. In 2001, he completed an internship with GenEx in Shawano.
Goers and his brother first became an official part of the farm management when the pair purchased 60 acres of land in 2004 that the family had previously rented to build a heifer barn. Another 100 acres was purchased by the family in 2017.
“He purchased his first registered Holstein calf with his dad in 2007,” Berg said. “The calf came from a longtime family friend and neighbor, David Weigel. This was the beginning of … registering the Holsteins in 2008.”
A modern milking parlor was constructed in 2011, which helped cut down the amount of time family members spent milking by hand. Berg noted the cows are milked twice a day, every day and produce 85 pounds of milk each, with a rolling herd average of 27,000 pounds.
Today, the farm operates 550 acres, 500 of which are owned by the family and grow corn and alfalfa to help feed the herd.
Besides his work on the farm, the award took notice of Goers’ leadership of dairy farms at the local, state and national levels. Goers helped to create a group on social media for young farmers, according to Berg, and he also serves on the Gresham FFA Alumni.
Other leadership positions include one year on the board for the Rural Health Initiative in 2010 and being a member of county, state and national Holstein associations.
“Matthew has been a strong supporter of ag education over the years,” Berg said. “He has welcomed farm tours from both Gresham and Shawano school districts.”
For Goers, one of the joys of farming is continuing to work together as a family. They share the burdens of farm life, but they also share the joys, too, he said.
“We don’t have any hired help, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished so far,” Goers said. “I’m very thankful I became ‘just a farmer.’”