Learn more about the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board candidates

Learn more about the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board candidates

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) released biographies on the 12 candidates vying for eight director seats on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). The election period runs April 9 through April 28, with results announced later in May.

Here are the candidates, listed by district, and a brief biography:

District 2 (Florence, Forest, Langlade, Marinette, Oconto and Vilas)
Running unopposed is candidate: Connie Seefeldt of Coleman

Connie Seefeldt and her family began farming in 1972. They currently milk 100 cows, farm 500 acres and ship their milk to the Michigan Milk Producers Association. Connie belongs to Farm Bureau, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, Oconto Electric Co-op, Marinette County Dairy Promotions and the Holstein Association. In addition, the farm has received milk quality awards from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) and the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
Personally, I feel it is important to be active in things you believe in. I have always believed in spreading the good news about dairy and have done so since our children (now grown with children of their own) were in grade school! Involvement is the best way to cause change and make a difference. I enjoy representing dairy farmers and consider it a privilege to do so. It is, and always will be, my intent to ask questions, look for efficiencies and accountability, and represent dairy farmers to the best of my ability.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I am very involved on our dairy, both inside and outside the barn! I am out every morning for chores, do all the paperwork, payroll, accounts payable and billing. I enjoy spending time with our eight grandchildren and will speak in their classrooms about dairy and agriculture, as I did in their parents’ classrooms! I am locally involved and sing in our church choir and helped start the church library. I was elected to the Marinette County Board of Supervisors in 2000 and am also a past Town Chair. Our Local Promotion groups keep me busy in June for dairy breakfasts, and I give a short talk to the County Board in June and December.

District 5 (Dunn and St. Croix)
Running unopposed is candidate: Kay Zwald of Hammond

Kay Zwald and her family began farming in 1975. They milk 600 cows, farm 1,200 acres and ship their milk to AMPI. Kay belongs to the St. Croix County Dairy Promotion group and the Zwald farm was named the 2007 Conservation Farm of the Year for St. Croix County.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
Through my involvement in the St. Croix County Dairy Promotion group, I felt the desire to be more actively involved in how Wisconsin promotes dairy. As a board member, I can be influential in decisions concerning how Wisconsin best uses the dairy producers’ promotion money.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I work full time on our dairy farm, and I serve on the St. Croix County Dairy Promotion Committee/Farm City Committee. I’m a member of the St. Croix Central School Board and I am also a PDPW (Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin) board member.

Two candidates in District 8
District 8 (Marathon)
Candidate: Dean B. Kraus of Stratford

Dean Kraus farmed with his parents through school and began running one of the family operations after graduation from high school in 1986. In 2007, farm ownership was transferred from Dean’s father and he began to operate the farm as D-Ann-D Dairy. The 250-cow operation ships milk to Maple Grove Cheese in Milladore. Dean belongs to the Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative and farms about 900 acres.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I would like to serve on the board to help promote the dairy industry in Wisconsin. I have three sons, two of which are very interested in farming. I would like to learn more through the board so I can help promote and educate future generations about dairy farming in Wisconsin.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
In the past, I was a resolutions committee member for Dairy Farmers of America for five years, and during two of those years it was at the corporate level.

District 8 (Marathon)
Candidate: Steve Sternweis of Marshfield

Steve Sternweis and his family started milking cows in 1972. They currently milk 425 Holsteins, farm 1,435 acres and ship their milk to Nasonville Dairy. Steve belongs to Harmony Country Cooperative Board (8 years), Accelerated Genetics, Spencer FFA Alumni and 4-H Shady Lane. In addition, he lists the following achievements: 1989 OYF Candidates Spencer Jaycees, Morning Glory Farms Young Farmer Program 1982-1985 and Wisconsin Jaycees State Officer (2 years).

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I want to learn how the farmers’ dollars are spent and how they use that money to make me money. Another reason I’d like to be on the board is so I can answer my neighbors’ questions.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I have volunteered in local organizations for the past 25 years and am a member of
Christ the King Church Choir. Over the years, I have come to realize how difficult it is to get good people to help. I am in a position to do that. So I will.

District 11 (Outagamie and Winnebago)
Running unopposed is candidate: Robert Letter of Seymour

Robert Letter began farming in 1983. On the 200-acre farm, he milks 70 registered Holsteins and ships milk to Mullins Cheese in Mosinee. Robert is affiliated with the Outagamie County Adult 4-H Leaders Association, the Outagamie County Holstein Breeders and the Wisconsin Holstein Association. In 2002, the herd received the Northstar DHIA Award for Low Annual Somatic Cell Count.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I would like to serve on the Board because it is important that Wisconsin dairy producers are well represented on the Board by a fellow dairy producer, so we all can get the most bang for our buck.

Two candidates in District 14
District 14 (Jackson, La Crosse and Trempealeau)
Candidate: Patricia Kling of Taylor

Patricia and her husband Steven began farming in 1976 with Steven’s parents. In 1981, they purchased the farm. They milk 50 cows, ship their milk to Dairy Farmers of America and farm 400 acres. Patricia belongs to the Jackson County Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Equity Co-op, Wisconsin Holstein Association, Coulee Graziers, Grassworks, Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee, Jackson County C.P.A.G. Committee, and the Jackson County Green Expo Committee. In addition, Patricia has won the 2000 Farm Bureau Woman of the Year, 2002 Taylor FFA Alumni Agriculturist Award, 2005 Jackson County Watershed Conservation Award and the 2012 Farm Family of the Year – Midwest Farm Show in La Crosse.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I feel it is important to be a voice on this board of dairy farmers, to discuss issues and challenges that affect Wisconsin dairy markets. The dairy impact message has and will be a very important message that must be promoted. There is a great heritage behind that message. Wisconsin dairy farmers should be proud of the message that has and will be conveyed to consumers. We need to continue to make Wisconsin as the place for excellent quality dairy products. I have been on the Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee since 1995.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I am proud to represent La Crosse, Trempealeau and Jackson County dairy farms. I have attended dairy breakfasts in our district. I see the interest in people when they actually can show their children or grandchildren animals on a farm.

District 14 (Jackson, La Crosse and Trempealeau)
Candidate: Theron Prindle of Alma Center

Theron Prindle grew up on a dairy farm. After graduating from college in the spring of 1976, Theron started working full-time on the dairy. He currently milks 150 Holsteins, ships milk to AMPI-Blair and farms 900 acres. He belongs to the Farm Bureau and was named the 2011 Jackson County Conservation Farmer.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I think I have the experience and knowledge to help guide the WMMB. I have the desire to want to help make the most of our check-off dollars. I think serving on the board would be an interesting challenge. I have the time now to do it.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I graduated from UW-Platteville with a degree in Agricultural Engineering and then taught high school agriculture for one year at Alma Center. I have been personally involved with all aspects of a family farm business including: family partnerships, a farm corporation, doing individual and corporate taxes, estate planning, buying and selling land and having employees. Concerning business, I am financially conservative.

Three candidates in District 17
District 17 (Calumet and Manitowoc)
Candidate: Kenneth Buelow of Hilbert

Kenn Buelow began dairy farming in 2000. As a co-owner of Holsum Dairies, Kenn milks 6,800 cows, ships milk to Grande Cheese and farms about 485 acres. Kenn belongs to PDPW, DBA, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, and in 2012 he accepted the National Dairy Sustainability Award.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
WMMB’s role in promoting the sale of Wisconsin dairy products is essential to the health of our dairy industry. As a board member, I would strongly support:

  • Current efforts that have been successful in branding Wisconsin cheese as a safe and highly desirable cheese
  • Continued national marketing and manufacturing of Wisconsin cheese varieties that demand higher prices in the marketplace
  • Research in the production and utilization of whey proteins as higher value products
  • Efforts to present all Wisconsin dairy farms as environmental stewards
    The goal of all of WMMB’s efforts should result in the consumption of a safe, high-quality, Wisconsin-branded product for consumers. A highly valued product, which translates into higher demand for Wisconsin produced milk.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I believe the broader a person’s background and experience is the more they are able to contribute to an organization.

  • Dairy farmed with my grandparents through high school
  • Degrees in Physics/Math/Geology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
  • Practiced Dairy Veterinary Medicine in Wisconsin, California and New Mexico
  • Built and managed two dairies in Calumet County
  • Served on county and state committees related to working land preservation, environmental stewardship and agricultural air emissions
  • Board President – Glacial Lakes Conservancy


District 17 (Calumet and Manitowoc)
Candidate: Rosalie Geiger of Reedsville

Rosalie and her husband Randy started farming in 1969. They took over the family farm that has been in Rosalie’s family since 1867. The Geigers farm 360 acres, milk 50 registered Holsteins and ship their milk to Verifine Dairy in Sheboygan (a division of Dean’s). Rosalie belongs to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Manitowoc County Farm Bureau (serve as Women’s Committee Co-Chair), Manitowoc Milk Producers Co-op, Wisconsin Holstein Association, Reedsville FFA Alumni (serve as secretary), Manitowoc Dairy Promotion Committee, Calumet County Dairy Promotion Committee, Wisconsin Women for Agriculture, Manitowoc County Dairy Ambassador, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, Rockland Sunshine 4-H dairy leader (15 years), Manitowoc County Junior Holstein Association (Advisor), National Dairy Board (2001-07), and the National Dairy Board Vice-President Cheese Committee (2003-07). She has won the following awards:

  • Manitowoc County Outstanding Ag Leader, 2002
  • Manitowoc County Expo Award for 14 years of Service (Fair Board)
  • Manitowoc County Dairy Promotion Award 2005
  • UW Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences Honorary Recognition Award 2005
  • Farm Bureau Award 2006
  • WI Farm Bureau Leadership Institute, Leadership Graduate 2008
  • Association of Women in Agriculture “Outstanding Woman in Agriculture” 2010
  • Lakeshore Technical College Dairy Honor Award 2011
  • 2012 Wisconsin Master Agriculturist Award
  • Dairy Milk Quality Awards (for over 20 years)

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I have dedicated my life to dairy farming and dairy promotion and if you enjoy your work and the people in the industry, it’s not work but your passion! Now more than ever, we need to promote, educate, and conduct research to keep our industry in Wisconsin in front of the competition. I want to represent the farm families in my district and make sure that their dollars are used efficiently and effectively promoting Wisconsin dairy products. Ninety percent of Wisconsin milk goes into cheese production. Since the inception of the WMMB, cheese consumption has risen from 17 pounds to over 33 pounds. We are doing our utmost to keep Wisconsin cheese selling throughout the United States and have children lifelong dairy consumers. I work as a board member to represent the best interests of all dairy farm families and stretch the dollars that you invest in promotion.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I am a hands-on dairy farmer and know what dairy farming entails, but I also have leadership training and know how to get things done in the board room. I am willing to dedicate my time and talents for the betterment of the Wisconsin dairy industry. I work with the Manitowoc and Calumet County Dairy Promotion Committees on their June Dairy Month activities and promotion events, plus do TV and radio reports on dairy. I teach dairy programs to grades K-4th in schools and want students to get excited about dairy and agriculture. I have worked with junior high students on ag-related careers and have had lots of tours on our farm. I receive phone calls and emails from farmers and consumers weekly, and help them with their questions about WMMB and dairy-related issues, and I give presentations to agricultural and civic groups. We need to have a positive image for our dairy products and the dairy farmers of Wisconsin. I am bringing optimism, experience and concern for farm families to the WMMB Board.

District 17 (Calumet and Manitowoc)
Candidate: Patrick Van Groll of Maribel

Patrick Van Groll started farming on his own in 1983. He was raised on a dairy farm and had part ownership on that farm since 1972. He milks 30 cows, ships the milk to Land O Lakes and farms 30 acres. He currently is on the board of directors at the Maribel Grain Company. He is also a member of the Denmark Cooperative, the Farm Bureau, a lifetime member of the National Dairy Shrine, and the Denmark FFA Alumni (serving once as president). His dairy has received numerous quality milk awards.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I want to serve on the WMMB so that I can positively contribute to the mission of promoting dairy products and the dairy industry itself. Although the benefits of dairy seem obvious to me, I know that belief needs to be portrayed to others.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
I have shown leadership in various areas: on our current dairy farm that I and my family have operated for the past 30 years, at my off-farm employment in manufacturing for the past 40 years, as a parish council member and president at our church, as a youth leader in 4-H, and last but not least, as a youth softball and wrestling coach, and a baseball and volleyball coach at the high school level. All of these activities have taught me great leadership and cooperation skills.

District 20 (Richland and Sauk)
Running unopposed is candidate: Sharon Laubscher of Wonewoc

Switching from beef cattle, Sharon and her family started dairy farming in 1990. They currently milk 25-30 cows, farm 300 acres and ship their milk to Carr Valley Cheese. Sharon currently serves on the Family Dairies USA Board and the National Dairy Board (NDB). In addition, she is a past member of Plum Valley Watershed. The Laubscher farm has received a Century Farm Award, Milk Quality.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I want to help make people aware of how good dairy products are, to make sure that no child goes without all the nutrition that dairy products offer. I would like to help provide programs to better promote the Wisconsin dairy industry. We may be a small farming operation, but it doesn’t matter if you are small, large or just in between; I feel we are all in this to get our country the nutrients it needs and to let everyone know dairy products are delicious, and with the economy the way it is, dairy is very economical. I would appreciate your support.

What else should dairy producers in your area know about you?
David (my husband) and I do the majority of the work on the farm; we have help with chores when one of us is gone. David also has a full-time job at NUK USA in Reedsburg, so sometimes we put in some long days. We raise all of our calves. It becomes a challenge, lately, with feed costs. I do some crocheting and genealogy when I have spare time and enjoy our grandchildren.

District 23 (Iowa and Lafayette)
Running unopposed is candidate: Jay M. Staffacher of Darlington

Jay Staffacher started farming in 1989. He operates in a partnership that milks 540 cows, farms 2,500 acres and ships milk to Swiss Valley Farms. Jay is involved with Lafayette County Dairy Promotion and Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, plus he is a Swiss Valley Farms Delegate and the Accelerated Genetics County Chair.

Why do you want to serve on the WMMB Board?
I have always believed in the importance of promoting Wisconsin’s dairy products, and that is why I am running for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I was first elected in 2000 to represent District 23, and it has been a very educational and rewarding experience. I am proud to have been a part of many positive results at WMMB: we have shifted our marketing efforts of dairy products to stay abreast of the ever-changing retail and foodservice environment. Every year we look at different ways to accomplish our mission statement in the most fiscally responsible and efficient manner possible. I hope that you will continue to support me to represent our district so I can continue to work with the promotion of our dairy products that I hope will eventually translate into a better economic future for our state.

To vote, DATCP will be sending ballots to licensed dairy producers who live within the eight districts up for election. Producers who have not received a ballot by April 18 should contact Noel Favia at (608) 224-5140. More detailed bios and candidate photographs can be found on www.wmmb.com/elections.

4.10.2012