Area dairy farm receives state grantBy:
Lee Pulaski, [email protected]
Leader Photos by Lee Pulaski
Rolling Meadows Dairy Farm has 220 Jersey cows that contributed 2.2 million pounds of milk in 2013. The farm recently received a Grow Dairy Wisconsin grant from the governor’s office in an effort to increase milk production throughout the state.
Tim Bowers holds a Jersey heifer calf while his wife, Meredith, feeds her Thursday at the farm. The calf will become part of the milking herd within two years.
Wisconsin dairy cows produced a record 27.6 billion pounds of milk in 2013.
The Rolling Meadows Farm, in rural Marion, contributed 2.2 million pounds to that total—and plans to contribute more for years to come.
A grant program implemented by Gov. Scott Walker will help them do that.
The Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30 X 20 Initiative seeks to increase the state’s milk output to 30 billion pounds by 2020. Rolling Meadows was one of the program’s 43 grant recipients this year.
The $5,000 grant, the maximum amount a farm can receive, will help Tim Bowers buy out his father Dave’s interest in Rolling Meadows. Currently, Dave owns the farm’s 440 acres, Tim owns the 220 Jersey cows that produce the milk, and the two share ownership of the equipment.
Tim and his wife, Meredith, hope to have full ownership of Rolling Meadows within the next five years and plan to continue a proud family tradition. Tim is the fifth generation to work the farm, which started in 1912.
Meredith discovered information about the 30 X 20 Initiative online and felt it would be a good fit for the farm, as her husband was in the process of purchasing the farm’s assets.
“It’s going to be an impending task for us,” she said. “One of the goals is to help the next generation of farmers stay active and viable and profitable. That was our reason for applying.”
The Bowers will use the money to hire professional services, including a tax accountant, to iron out the wrinkles of the transition.
“It’s going to be a task,” Tim said. “It’s a lot to bite off in one chunk.”
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wisconsin had 76,800 farms in 2012, the latest year data was available.
While many young people are opting not to continue in the family farming business, Tim, 35, hopes to keep Rolling Meadows going for many generations to come.
“It’s something that, as a child, I wanted to do,” he said. “Even after going to college, I still wanted to because so many farm kids go to college and decide (farming) isn’t for them anymore. That made me think even more that this is what I wanted to do.”
Already, more calves are being raised and prepared for milking.
“We raise all of our replacements — heifers, young stock,” Tim said.
So far, 22 calves have been born this spring, and they should be ready to join the milking herd within two years, according to Meredith.
“With the right management and the right genetics in breeding, you get better moms, and then you get better babies,” she said. “In two years, when she comes in as a new cow, she’s going to make more milk for you, a higher component milk.”
The milk produced is higher in protein and fat, which helps in making cheese and butter.
Besides Tim and Dave Bowers, there are four full-time employees and one part-time employee working the farm.
Walker announced the 30 X 20 Initiative in 2012 to offer farmers options to increase profitability and make sure the state’s milk production can meet the growing demand for dairy products in the marketplace, according to a press release announcing this year’s grant recipients.
“Our investment in Wisconsin’s agriculture industry through these grants will enable these farmers to improve their profitability, and allow Wisconsin to thrive as a leader in the nation’s dairy industry,” Walker said in the release. “Agriculture contributes more than 350,000 jobs to the state’s economy, and I’m happy to support the farmers, their families, and their staff who do the hard work.”
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