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UPDATE: Local farmers weigh in on Wis. farm decline

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

UPDATED: Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 --- 4:30 p.m.

Verona farmer Roger Ringgenberg is ready for spring. He says this winter has felt like one the longest and coldest since he started working.

"My dad bought the farm way back in 1954 at auction here and I've been living here ever since," he said.

Two years ago Ringgenberg quit milking cows. Now he feeds Holstein steers, and grows corn, beans and hay on his 150 acres of crop land.

Considered a small operation, Ringgenberg isn't sure what will happen to his farm once he retires.

"The smaller operations have kind of decreased but the bigger guys are renting the land from them." Ringgenberg says that could be one reason why Wisconsin lost 8,700 farms from 2007-2012--the business has gotten more competitive.

"I know I've been looking to upgrade a little bit but I can hardly afford to be able to buy used machinery to upgrade because it's high priced," he said.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has not concluded yet what might be behind the above-average loss.

"So I still plug away at it with my small machinery, my little tractors, my four-wheel corn planter and that sort of stuff," Ringgenberg said. "Either that or I have to find more land to do it on, and a lot of land is already being taken up. So it's dog-eat-dog, fight, fight, fight, go for it."

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Posted Thursday, February 20, 2014 --- 12:31 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A new federal report shows Wisconsin has lost thousands of farms and, perhaps more disturbingly, thousands of acres that were once farmed are no longer.

The data come from the Census of Agriculture conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The census shows Wisconsin lost 8,700 farms from 2007 to 2012.

It also lost more than 620,000 acres of farmland during that time.

The USDA classifies both losses as among the most significant in the nation.

At the same time, Wisconsin remains among the top 10 agricultural states in number of farms and agricultural sales.

The state had 69,756 farms covering nearly 14.6 million acres in 2012.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


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