“Tell me about a typical day on the farm.”
“Well, it’s not like this,” 25-year-old dairy farmer Brad Goplin quipped, his face splitting into a grin as he tilted his head toward the filming and sound equipment hovering over the lawn chair where he sat on the warm July day at Goplin Homestead Farm.
Off-camera, his father, Eric, bit back a chuckle, nodding in agreement.
Goplin, a member of the Jackson-Trempealeau County Farmers Union, welcomed me, along with fellow Wisconsin Farmers Union member and filmographer Louie Fisher, to his Osseo farm last summer to talk about Farmers Union and share what life is like on the sixth-generation dairy farm. The interview was in preparation for a special panel at the Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention Jan. 27-29, 2017 at Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells, in which Goplin will be featured, along with several other Farmers Union members.
The panel will hone in on the diversity of Farmers Union yet also the common values our membership shares. Also featured will be Michael and Nancy Slattery, grain farmers from Maribel; Jim and Lisa Soyring, beef farmers from Maple; Tara Roberts-Turner, a wholesale and market vegetable farmer from Waupaca; and Mike Racette and Patty Wright, who run a community supported agriculture farm in Prairie Farm.
The idea for the panel came from WFU District 6 Director Chris Holman of Custer, who will serve as moderator. Brief video clips from each farm will be shown during the session.
Celebrating Our Shared Values
The diversity of our organization was a huge draw for me when I signed on as communications director for Wisconsin Farmers Union in 2014. There’s something so incredible about farmers taking a break from their busy lives and traveling to chapter meetings or annual convention to gather and reason together. What’s even more incredible to me is the breadth of the membership. Life on each farm we visited was different yet beautiful in its own way. Milking cows with the Goplin family, with two different generations cracking jokes across the barn walk. Watching the Soyrings work in unison as they moved their beef herd to fresh pasture. Mulching the fields amid laughter at Spring Hill Community Farm. Picking pears and filling the grain bins with the Slatterys. Observing the camaraderie and traditions at Turner’s Fresh Market. Each day these moments are happening on their respective farms, as each family goes about the work of bringing food from field – or pasture – to table.
And although their work may be different, at each farm we visited the same core came shining through: family, conservation, civic engagement, cooperation, to name a few.
For me, the project was rejuvenating and confirmation that we’re on the right track in Farmers Union.
Brad said it well during my visit to his family’s picturesque farm in the Huskelhus Valley:
“Even though Farmers Union is made up of many different types of operations, we still come together. Our beliefs are relatively the same … whether the farmers are in dairy, CSA, diversified, livestock, crops – our values are very similar. We’re bigger and better in one voice.”
For those of you headed to convention, we’re excited to share with you the videos from each farm. I hope they instill in you a similar pride in Farmers Union and where we’re headed.
Danielle Endvick is Communications Director for Wisconsin Farmers Union. She can be reached at 715-471-0398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.