While abroad in Europe this past spring semester, I managed to find myself in multiple heated debates with other Americans and Europeans about cheese. Yes, you read that correctly, we fought about cheese. Osha_006

After explaining the typical Wisconsin diet (read: heavy on cheese and dairy) to my friends, my Danish and Dutch classmates continued to argue that their counties still produced better cheese than my home state. However, on March 10, the three-month long debate was finally laid to rest when a Wisconsin cheese was named the World Cheese Champion. No one could question or debate this ruling. Wisconsin had won.

There’s also no question that, although our farmers are often not referred to as “business people” in the traditional sense, their businesses contribute greatly to our economy—and we’re proud to say we help. TDS serves almost 300,000 phone lines in Wisconsin alone, many of them reaching rural areas and allowing our farmers to thrive.

The Majestic View Dairy LLC is one of the many farms TDS offers services to, providing them with the means to access internet and information on their 4,200 acres. Located on the northern edge of Lancaster, Wis., The Majestic View LLC began with 290 acres (which was a large amount of land at the time) in 1959 when John Haskins purchased the farm from his mother. In 1983, Rona and Terri Abing started with John on a 50/50 partnership and the farm has been expanding since.

8x10__2_Today, 2,900 of the 4,200 acres of land is tillable (that means they can grow crops on it, for you city folk) to feed over 1,000 head of dairy cattle. Majestic employs 28 people—14 part-time and 14 full-time employees. Family members run the operation and make decisions to support future generations as they grow and fine tune their business.

This month we celebrate businesses like The Majestic View Dairy LLC and their contributions to the dairy industry. Without their hard labor, we would lack many of the nutrient-rich and delicious dairy products we have today. Thank you farmers!

Did you Know?

  • The average Wisconsin dairy cow generates more than $34,000 a year in economic activity.
  • Dairy is the largest segment of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agriculture industry, employing 78,900 people in the state.
  • Dairy contributes more to Wisconsin’s state economy than citrus does to Florida or potatoes to Idaho.IMG_3589_op_638x425
  • There are 10,860 licensed dairy farms in Wis.
  • 96 percent of Wisconsin’s farms are family owned. Many of our dairy farms have been in operation for generations, and are continuing to involve the next generation of family members.
  • Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of on-farm bio-energy systems with 35 methane digesters installed and more planned. Methane digesters are being used on farms to turn manure into renewable bio-energy. Using this technology, five cows can provide enough power for an average size home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Wisconsin is home to more than 200 dairy plants, including 127 plants manufacturing Wisconsin cheese. Wisconsin cheese makers produce more than 600 different varieties, types and styles of cheese.
  • If Wisconsin were a country, we would rank fourth in the world in terms of cheese production. And Wisconsin wins more awards for its cheese than any other state or country in national and international cheese competitions held in the United States.

And speaking of cheese, on average American’s eat more than 31 pounds of cheese each year. If you’d like to support the farmers this month, go out and buy some cheese, ice cream or other dairy products. Click here for a great site to help with your cheese selections!

Information source: Wis. Milk Marketing Board
Photo source: The Majestic View Dairy LLC Website

Guest blogger: Joan Lawlor with DeAnne Boegli

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