Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board — Candidate Bios


Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board — Candidate Bios

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) released today biographies of candidates vying for a seat on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). The director election period runs through April 26, with results announced later in May.

Listed by district and in alphabetical order, here are the 11 candidates and their biographies:

District 1 (Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn Counties)
Incumbent Ben Peterson of Grantsburg is running unopposed.

Candidate: Ben Peterson
Farm Name (if applicable): Four Cubs Farm LLC
County of Residence: Burnett
When did you begin dairy farming? 1999
How many cows do you milk? 700 cows
Where do you ship your milk? Burnett Dairy Co-op

Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

  • Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
  • Dairy Business Association
  • Discovery Farms
  • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

  • 2011 - My wife Nicki and I took 3rd place WI Outstanding Young Farmers

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
The last several years I have served have been amazing. WMMB has risen to new levels of effectiveness. Creating a Wisconsin brand for our cheese has really started to take hold, thanks in no small part to the WMMB staff of very dedicated professionals and a great CEO. We are seeing a resurgence in Wisconsin milk production and I believe WMMB's programs will help us to keep the premiums we all enjoy. I would like to continue to be part of that success and continue to represent the “great north” on the board. I believe I have a few more good things to add.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
Finances and smart effective use of our money are some of my greatest concerns as a board member and I will continue to make this one of my highest priorities. I do not like to see my money wasted on small impact programs anymore than you do. The changes I have seen in these years have been no less than spectacular. We have to be ever vigilant at the same time to make sure the high standards are kept. This is our business and I treat it that way — if it does not have a return, I always question it.

District 4 (Barron and Polk counties)
Candidate Audrey Kusilek of Rice Lake is running unopposed.

Candidate: Audrey Kusilek
Farm Name: Four Mile Creek Dairy, LLC
County of Residence: Barron
When did you begin dairy farming? August 1998
How many cows do you milk? 1,400 cows
Where do you ship your milk? Dairy Farmers of America

Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

  • Farm Bureau
  • Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
  • Dairy Business Association

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

  • Hosted the 2012 Barron County Dairy Breakfast

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    I want to serve on the Board to help promote Wisconsin dairy products to people locally, nationally and internationally. I have been blessed to be involved in the dairy industry and want to do my part to assist in the development and promotion of those products. I think that all geographic areas of Wisconsin should be represented and I look forward to representing District 4.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I have been involved in the dairy business with my husband for over 15 years. Prior to that, I worked in the agricultural finance industry. Volunteering is important to our family and I have served on our local school board, committees at our church and recently served on the Executive Committee for the 2013 Farm Technology Days show.

    District 7 (Clark county)
    Incumbent David Bangart of Greenwood is challenged by Richard Price of Stanley.

    Candidate: David Bangart
    Farm Name (if applicable): Viaduct Holsteins LLC
    County of Residence: Clark
    When did you begin dairy farming? I've been involved in dairy farming and the dairy business my entire life.
    How many cows do you milk? Viaduct Holsteins currently has about 250 milk cows and 235 heifers
    Where do you ship your milk? Land O Lakes

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Land O Lakes
      - delegate 2011-2014
      - leadership council secretary 2012, 2014
      - policy committee 2012

  • Clark County Dairy Promotion
  • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
  • Loyal FFA alumni, bowling tournament, June dairy breakfast
  • Wis FFA alumni
  • Family Dairies USA
  • Clark Cty Holstein
  • WI Holstein Association
  • Holstein Association USA
  • Summer Event Holstein Sale – treasurer and sale financial manager

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

    • We were a host farm for the 2010 Midstate Tech College farm tours.
    • We participate in several fairs and Holstein shows every year and have had some success in the show ring.

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    Three years ago I wrote, “the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is one of our main pathways that link our consumers to us, the producers. Interaction with our consumers is vital for the vibrance of our industry.” This statement is as true today as it ever was. The customers for “Wisconsin Dairy” products are all over the country and demand continues to grow. I feel it is important for producers such as myself to be involved in the direction that WMMB takes in promotion and marketing of our product to continue growing demand. However, we must also be fiscally responsible when using our dairy farmers’ promotional dollars in marketing, and I would like to continue being a part of the board that will continue to chart WMMB’s course.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    My wife Amber and I are partners in Viaduct Holstein's LLC. The partnership also includes my father Don, my brother Dennis and my sister Mikki. We have about 250 cows and 235 heifers and have grown since we moved from two farms in the Auburndale area to our parlor dairy between Loyal and Greenwood ten years ago. Even though we've endured challenges along the way (including the loss of my mom and farm partner Patricia last year) we remain dedicated to taking great care of our cattle, being the best stewards of the land we can be, and producing quality milk every day.

    District 7 (Clark county)
    Incumbent David Bangart of Greenwood is challenged by Richard Price of Stanley.

    Candidate: Richard R. Price
    Farm Name (if applicable): Price and Price Farms
    County of Residence: Clark
    When did you begin dairy farming? Since high school (1975); purchased the farm in 1986
    How many cows do you milk? 75
    Where do you ship your milk? CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • United FCS – Director from 2008 to current
    • Member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    I received the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board mailing the end of January with info about director seats up for election. It occurred to me that I had paid into this organization for 28 years and it was about time to find out how money is spent and how WMMB works. It does not matter if you milk 5 or 5,000 cows, your hard-earned dollars go to this organization. I will work to see that your money is not wasted.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I enjoy farming and love talking to farmers about their operations. My wife Michele and I enjoy trail riding with our horses all over Wisconsin.

    District 10 (Brown, Door and Kewaunee Counties)
    Incumbent John Pagel of Kewaunee is running unopposed.

    Candidate: John T Pagel
    Farm Name (if applicable): Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy LLC
    County of Residence: Kewaunee County
    When did you begin dairy farming? 1978
    How many cows do you milk? 4,700 cows
    Where do you ship your milk? Saputo Cheese USA

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • President of Dairy Business Milk Marketing Coop
    • On the School Board for the Kewaunee School systems
    • Current WMMB director

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?
    In 2003, I received the Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year Award provided by Dairy Today magazine and the International Dairy Foods Association. I also was recently honored by the Kewaunee School System Wall of Fame, which is an award given for my success and contributions to the local community.

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    I hope with the experience and the vision that I have, we can utilize the funds us farmers pay to WMMB to influence our markets in a positive fashion.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I have a passion in environmental protection with dairy facilities. Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy was involved in the Discovery Farms program. They had three units that were studying surface water and tile runoff under different management systems. I have also completed an Environmental Management system adopting new methods to improve the environment. In 2008, I installed a methane digester on our new facility reducing odor and making electricity for over 1,500 homes. I am also very fortunate that my success is shared with my family, as they are all a part of Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy.

    District 13 (Buffalo, Pierce and Pepin Counties)
    Incumbent Lanette Harsdorf of Beldenville is running unopposed.

    Candidate: Lanette Harsdorf
    Farm Name (if applicable): Trim-Bel Valley Dairy
    County of Residence: Pierce
    When did you begin dairy farming? 1988
    How many cows do you milk? 230 cows
    Where do you ship your milk? Hastings Co-op Creamery, Hastings, MN

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Pierce-Pepin Holstein Club – board member, secretary
    • Hastings Creamery Board of Directors – secretary, treasurer
    • Farm Bureau
    • Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

    • Most Improved Herd, DHI Award for Pierce County, 2010

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    My passion for the dairy industry is why I desire to serve the Wisconsin dairy farmers as a board member of WMMB. I strongly believe in the objectives of WMMB: marketing our milk, creating demand for WI cheese and educating the consumer on the benefits of dairy. As a producer and consumer, I would like the opportunity to be a participant in the discussion and decisions involved when spending our advertising dollars.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    As an active dairy farmer, I truly appreciate and respect the integrity and passion of those involved in production agriculture. As a board member, I will be your advocate, dedicated to educating the consumer. I believe they need to understand three important truths about the dairy farmer: 1) We carefully nurture and cherish our animals, 2) We protect and care for our natural resources, and 3) We are regulated and monitored to ensure that we provide the consumer an extremely safe food source. If they understood these concepts, I believe they would readily consume more dairy and reap the benefits of a healthier life. I have appreciated the opportunity to serve on WMMB, and I will continue in my dedication to serving the Wisconsin farmer.

    District 16 (Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette Counties)
    Incumbent David Schmitz of Fond du Lac is running unopposed.

    Candidate: David Schmitz
    Farm Name (if applicable): Schmitz’s East Branch Dairy
    County of Residence: Fond du Lac
    When did you begin dairy farming? I began dairy farming along with my father, Donald Schmitz, right out of high school. I attended Production Ag classes at Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac.
    How many cows do you milk? 220 milking cows with a herd average of 27,000 lbs. of milk
    Where do you ship your milk? Sartori Foods, Plymouth, WI

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
    • Wisconsin Agri Business Council
    • Wisconsin Farm Bureau
    • Wisconsin Forage Council
    • Fond du Lac County Holstein Breeders
    • Oakfield FFA Alumni
    • Fond du Lac County Forage Council
    • Fond du Lac Area Agri Business Council
    • Fond du Lac County Farm Bureau
    • Farm First Cooperative
    • Ag-Source
    • East Central Breeders
    • Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac
    • St. Mary Springs Academy – Alumni and Parent
    • Knights of Columbus of Fond du Lac

    I currently serve on the following committees:

    • Director for District 16 WMMB
    • Director of Farm First Cooperative
    • Member of Ag Source Cooperative
    • Member of East Central Breeders
    • Member of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Dairy Policy Committee
    • Member of Fond du Lac Area Ag Ambassador Committee (and Past Chairman)
    • Member of the Fond du Lac County Forage Council (and Past President)
    • Member of Oakfield FFA Alumni

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

    • 1999: Hosted the Fond du Lac County Dairy Breakfast for the Fond du Lac Area Agri Business Council
    • 2001: Century Farm award at the Wisconsin State Fair (Fourth generation to operate farm)

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    As a representative on the WWMB Board and as a dairyman, I believe strongly in promoting our industry. I feel my involvement with the Fond du Lac Area Agri Business Council and the Ag Ambassador Program has allowed me to promote the dairy industry. I hope to be able to continue to expand my experiences and contribute positively to the WMMB through this position.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I believe strongly in giving back to our community. In addition to my ag involvement, I’m involved with my sons’ endeavors in 4-H, Boy Scouts and school athletics.

    District 19 (Columbia and Dodge counties)
    Candidate Becky Levzow of Rio is running unopposed.

    Candidate: Becky L. Levzow
    Farm Name (if applicable): Levzow Dairy
    County of Residence: Columbia
    When did you begin dairy farming? I grew up on a dairy farm, and in 1978, I joined Levzow Dairy Farm as co-owner-operator.
    How many cows do you milk? 180 cows
    Where do you ship your milk? Foremost Farms USA

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Professional Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin Farm Bureau
    • Pardeeville FFA Alumni
    • Agriculture Representative-Wisconsin Technical College Systems Board (WTCS)
    • State & National Holstein Breeders Association
    • State & National Jersey Breeders Association

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

    • Milk Quality Awards from Foremost Farms, USA
    • State Honorary FFA Degree
    • Pardeeville Chapter Honorary FFA Degree
    • 2007 Wisconsin Jersey Woman of the Year
    • Hosted Columbia County Moo Dairy Brunch on our farm

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    Dairy is an integral part of the Wisconsin economy and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board works to promote this important industry to keep us on the forefront of consumers’ choices. Promoting the dairy industry comes naturally to me, as I have always believed in the goodness of this natural product. Researching consumer trends and educating them about the health benefits of dairy products keeps our industry strong. The check-off dollars that support this board are a well-spent investment that all dairy producers, including my family, contribute to our industry. In a tough economy, I want to make sure that we are spending our money wisely to reach as many consumers as we can in today’s market. Stressing the nutritional value of our product and the dedication of our dairy producers to producing quality products, will keep dairy an integral part of the Wisconsin economy for years to come.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I feel that I am a good listener and that I am not afraid to ask the right questions to ensure that we are promoting the dairy industry to the best of our ability. From all the boards and committees I have served on over the years, both in the dairy industry and my community, I have learned the value of working together as a team to accomplish a goal.

    District 22 (Grant county)
    Incumbent Mary Wackershauser of Lancaster is challenged by Ann Kieler of Platteville.

    Candidate: Ann Kieler
    Farm Name (if applicable): Kieler Farms, Inc.
    County of Residence: Grant
    When did you begin dairy farming? 1980
    How many cows do you milk? 400 cows
    Where do you ship your milk? Foremost Farms

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Farm Bureau

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    I would like to serve on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board because I want to have a voice in promoting the dairy industry in Wisconsin. I would like all school children to have access to milk, even chocolate milk, from the early years on. I believe in the benefits of dairy products in our diets. I want to help ensure that there is a market for the milk produced by future generations of dairy farmers.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I have spent the majority of my life on a dairy farm. I am the mother of four children, all grown. Two of them have come home to the farm to work, live and raise their own children. One is in UW law school and one is in the Army. I think living on a farm has given them unique advantages in life. I have been a delegate for Foremost Farms, and I have served on the Paris Town Board for 15 years – six of those years as Chairman.

    District 21 (Grant county)
    Incumbent Mary Wackershauser of Lancaster is challenged by Ann Kieler of Platteville.

    Candidate: Mary Wackershauser
    Farm Name (if applicable): Wack-E-View Registered Holsteins
    County of Residence: Grant
    When did you begin dairy farming? Since 1975
    How many cows do you milk? 50 cows
    Where do you ship your milk? Dean

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Grant Co., Wisconsin & National Holstein Associations
    • Grant County Dairy Promoters – current publicity chair
    • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    I believe strongly in the positive promotions efforts of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board on behalf of Grant County and Wisconsin dairy producers. The current direction to action-based promotions includes the nutritious message of dairy products to students, plus we are supporting social media with WMMB websites, Facebook information and an array of recipes available online. Also, WMMB’s funding of the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison has helped support a strong dairy industry and its infrastructure and state cheesemakers. In addition, the Regional Marketing Managers' national program is unique to WMMB, coordinating the marketing of Wisconsin Cheese to retail and foodservice with the Wisconsin cheese companies. WMMB also continues to exhibit at national food shows and work with media outlets. In addition, WMMB works with national magazine and newspaper editors to promote Wisconsin Cheese nationally.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    I have served on the board as Secretary, served on the Research & Education committees, chair of the Producer Communications, Dairy Council and Cheese Committee. I have learned about WMMB and how it works on a national level to leverage our promotion dollars to our benefit.

    District 25 (Green, Rock and Walworth counties)
    Incumbent Stacy Eberle of Monroe is running unopposed.

    Candidate: Stacy Eberle
    Farm Name (if applicable): Eb-Acres Orchestrated Dreams
    County of Residence: Green
    When did you begin dairy farming? Randy and I married in 1992 while he was farming with his parents. We purchased the dairy farm from his parents in 1995. In 2010, we purchased the second farm that we had been renting from his mom. Randy passed away in January 2011.
    How many cows do you milk? I just expanded my herd in October 2013; I went from 80 to 150 cows.
    Where do you ship your milk? Mid-West Dairymen's Co. in Rockford, IL

    Please name any ag-related organizations or affiliations you belong to:

    • Monroe FFA Alumni
    • Green Co Farm Bureau
    • Equity Livestock Cooperative
    • Accelerated Genetics Co-op
    • Green Co 4-H
    • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

    Have you (or your farm) received special recognition or won any relevant awards?

    • I was a recipient of the 2012 Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 grant

    Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
    WMMB is so much more than dairy check-off dollars and cheese promotions. WMMB works with the full circle. Producers want to know how wisely their dollars are spent. Consumers need to not only know the nutrition for dairy for their purchasing decisions; they also want to know we are a caring, conscientious industry. In-between the producer and the consumer are the schools, institutions, the chefs, grocery/delis and restaurants. WMMB works to inform and work within all of the aspects not only on the state level, but also regionally and nationally. As a WMMB board director, I enjoy being part of this circle. I have seen positive programs coming from WMMB while serving on the board. It is exciting knowing the many facets this organization utilizes to promote the WI dairy industry.

    What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
    The Wisconsin dairy industry has been very good to me. A few years ago, I was forced to make a decision to remain active in the dairy industry or maybe take a more a passive role. I chose to remain active. Not only to remain, but also to reinvest and grow. This decision shows my commitment and passion for our industry. I am a firm believer in promoting all aspects of agriculture. I love this business we are in.

    More detailed bios can be found on www.wmmb.com/elections. To vote, DATCP is mailing ballots to licensed dairy producers who live within the nine election districts. Ballots must be returned via mail/postmarked by April 26. Producers who have not received a ballot by April 16 should contact Noel Favia at (608) 224-5140.

    Return to Industry Buzz.

    4.4.2014