‘Dairy is what we do’ — Dane County celebrates Dairy Month with Breakfast on the Farm

In the Dairy Month of June, Wisconsin residents can hoof it to local farms to experience fresh breakfasts in the same places many of the ingredients are sourced from.

On Saturday, an estimated 5,000 people descended upon the Kahl Family Farm in Verona for the Dane County Breakfast on the Farm, where volunteers began slinging pancakes at 7 a.m.

The warm farm air carried the aroma of farm-fresh breakfast offerings as full-bellied guests enjoyed live music, climbed on tractors and took in a moo-ving demonstration of where food comes from, complete with two brave souls dressed as a pig and a cow in the 80-plus-degree heat.

Woven into the details of the breakfast were a blend of tradition and modernity. The Kahl family has farmed their homestead at 8385 County Road A since 1961, raising a variety of living things from dairy cattle to crops. In recent years, event coordinator Laura Herschleb said, the family has transitioned to a mix of crop land and auctioneering, running Imkahlng Auctions, a business started by Riley Kahl.

“One of the special things about Wisconsin agriculture is just the diversity of it, and the different … industries and everything,” said Herschleb.

Saturday’s event featured multiple live auctions with proceeds going to the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin, a nonprofit that combats food and housing insecurity. In this way, the event was feeding people who may not have even been in attendance.

For those seeking an up-close and personal farm experience, a variety of offerings were available, including a petting zoo featuring multiple excitable fowl and a mild-mannered hog, and a cow statue with an interactive milking udder.

It’s experiences like these, Herschleb says, that allow Wisconsin residents to truly get in touch with where their food comes from.

“We’re so lucky here in the state of Wisconsin to have agriculture and the dairy industry as such an important part of our state,” she said. “There are dedicated farmers that are up from sunup to sundown who are taking care of their herd or their crops and their animals to produce those healthy, nutritious products.”

Sharing the dairy enthusiasm is Tina Peterson, director of communications for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Peterson said there are more than 60 events like the Dane County breakfast this month celebrating Wisconsin’s “powerhouse” dairy industry, which generates $45 billion annually according to the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“Wisconsinites embrace the fact that we are America’s Dairyland,” said Peterson. “Dairy is what we do, it’s in our bones, it’s in our blood.”

Bouncing back from the pandemic-induced absence of in-person events, Peterson said she’s seen “banner numbers” in all the Dairy Month programming thus far, and she expects the month to continue the upward trend.

“Attendance is definitely up,” she said. “We’re back to our pre-COVID numbers.”

Each event offers more than a shared meal or a cow-spotted face painting. It’s a learning opportunity, a chance for farmers to educate their communities about land stewardship, the care and keeping of all living things, and changes in sustainability and conservation practices over time.

“These farmers are really embracing traditional values but also setting, I would say, a standard across the U.S. when it comes to sustainability, conservation and milk quality,” said Peterson. “I think one of the best things that people can learn is just how things change over time with technology.”

The Kahl farm has come a long way since Gary and Suzanne Kahl made that initial purchase in 1959. The family sold off the last of its dairy cattle to become a crop-only farm in the 1990s, but events like Saturday’s are a reminder that the 300 acres of corn and beans they currently tend are supported by family tradition, built on decades of dairy cattle and hard work.

“One thing that I think farmers embrace is the fact that they are always looking to get better for the future,” said Peterson. “They want to make sure that their land and their animals are around for more generations to come.”

Source: ‘Dairy is what we do’ — Dane County celebrates Dairy Month with Breakfast on the Farm (lacrossetribune.com)

ANNA HANSEN Jun 11, 2023

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Conference Speaker: Jennifer Gableman, CAI, ATS

Conference Speaker: Jennifer Gableman, CAI, ATS

Conference Speaker: Jeree (AJ) Ball Milligan

Conference Speaker: Jeree (AJ) Ball Milligan

Conference Speaker: Wade Leist

Conference Speaker: Wade Leist

Conference Speaker: Rich Schur

Conference Speaker: Rich Schur