Baylake Bank eNews. Member FDIC

Dairy Farming Values
By:  Jim Smidel

Jim Smidel

Jim Smidel
Baylake Bank Ag Lender
and Dairy Farmer


Did you know the first cows in the western hemisphere arrived with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493? Just like me, my cows have European ancestry. I have been dairy farming for over 30 years, and in banking for almost 15 years as a Lender at Baylake Bank. Farming and banking have changed a lot over this timeframe due in part to changing regulations, but also due to better practices in general. The U.S. dairy farmer has adopted new technologies and practices to become the most efficient business model in the history of the United States. In 1945 there were 26 million cows in the U.S producing around 3,850 pounds per cow per year totaling 100 billion pounds. Today there are only 9 million cows producing over 22,000 pounds per cow per year totaling over 200 billion pounds. Thatís twice as much milk out of one third as many cows, thus reducing feed resources, water intake and manure.

Farming practices have changed to make things easier as well as better for the farmer, however, many farmers have quit farming over the past 30 years for various reasons. One of them is the lack of interest by the next generation to take over the farm. Careers with good pay, vacation time, and weekends off look pretty good when compared to the dairy farm life. The average age of the current dairy farmer in Wisconsin is 52 and age 58 nationally. We need to encourage the younger generation to take an interest in farming for the many other benefits that it provides.

milkDairy farming is milking and feeding cows, feeding calves and young-stock morning and night and then attending to everything else in between seven days a week, but new robotic technologies are making farming less labor intensive and keeping some farmers from retiring and also gaining interest with the younger generation to remain on the farm. The University of Wisconsin Agricultural Extension also has a program that matches up young people who want to farm with retiring farmers to transition a buy-out over time. The Farm Service Agency also has a beginning Farmer Loan which works together with local banks to help make the purchase of a farm more feasible.

Many large farms are still family owned and most use local banks for their finances and in-turn local community banks, like Baylake Bank, reinvest in the local economy. A mix of small, medium, and large farms that support each other and the Ag Business infrastructure is ideal. Agriculture is one of the bright spots in our local economy and we enjoy that great infrastructure of Ag related businesses that create jobs for our community.

The miracle of planting a seed in the ground and it producing the crops that in turn generate this tremendous economy, is what I love about farming. Being able to help my customers with ag business financing that ultimately ends up contributing back to their success and the enrichment of the quality of life in our area, is what I like most about banking.

Data Source: USDA Archives of Economics, Statistics, and Market Information System.


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