For many dairy farmers, the practice of a long-loved Wisconsin tradition is rooted in a bloodline that spans several generations. The farming industry, while traditionally an operation that is passed on from parent to child, occasionally experiences anomalies in the form of new farms belonging to those who are eager to learn the trade. Many have farming backgrounds, and instances of “first-generation” Wisconsin farms are a relatively rare sight. However, with WHEDA Business Lending Financing, and a lot of grit, these prospective farmers often find more success than they ever imagined.
In the mid 1990s, Kyle Fagerland experienced this kind of success firsthand when he decided to convert his hunting property to farmland that is dedicated to raising heifers. The venture included constructing buildings, purchasing farming equipment, and all other associated costs, which turned out to be quite expensive. Fagerland turned to WHEDA by applying for aid through the Farm Asset Reinvestment Management (FARM) program, which offers low-rate loan financing associated with the construction of new barns and updating of an otherwise wild land parcel.
Fagerland's operation deviated from traditional farms and took on its own unique shape. He created a “boarding school” for young heifers, that takes young cows from other farmers when they would otherwise be unprofitable. Young and adolescenct heifers take a significant amount of resources and space to raise, which are in short supply on most Wisconsin farms.
If one visited the property today, they would find that a lot has changed since the farm’s beginning. The Fagerland Farms, now known as German Valley Heifers, is run in partnership with Kyle’s three children. Tess, Harley, and Savannah Fagerland who all act as full-time aids to the operation after completing their college education. The return of the Fagerland children marks a significant landmark for the farm given all that they've learned about running a more efficeint operation. Previously a “one-generation” farm, the Fagerland venture has now grown into a multi-generational operation, representing the preservation of Wisconsin agricultural business.
While it has been some time since the Fagerlands have utilized WHEDA loan assistance, their independence is a testament to the success and resilience of FARM loan recipients. From his humble beginnings, Fagerland and his family can now celebrate the success of their 2,100 acre farm and heifer operation while taking stock of what’s truly important.