For many dairy farmers, the practice of a long-loved Wisconsin tradition is rooted in a bloodline that spans for several generations. The farming industry, while traditionally a venture 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. While many may have a farming background, new instances of “first-generation” Wisconsin farms are often a relatively rare sight. However, with WHEDA financing, and a lot of grit, these prospective farmers often find more success than they ever bargained for.
In the mid 1990’s, Kyle Fagerland experienced this success firsthand when he decided to convert hunting property to farmland dedicated to raising heifers. In constructing buildings, purchasing farming equipment, and all other associated costs, the venture was certainly costly. Turning to WHEDA for aid, Fagerland applied for the FARM program, which offered low-rate loan financing associated with the construction of new barns and updating an otherwise wild land parcel.
However, deviating from the traditional route, Fagerland’s operation began to take a unique shape. Creating a “boarding school” for young heifers, Fagerland would take young cows from other farmers when they would otherwise be unprofitable. In their youth and adolescence, heifers take an ample amount of resources and space to care for, which, on most Wisconsin farms, are in short supply.
If one visited the property today, they would find that a lot has changed since the farm’s first beginnings. The Fagerland Farms, now known as German Valley Heifers, is run in partnership with Kyle’s three children. Tess, Harley, and Savannah Fagerland all act as full-time aids to the operation after pursuing a college education. In learning how to run the farm more efficiently, the return of the Fagerland children mark a significant landmark for the farm’s operation. Once a “one-generation” farm, the Fagerland venture has now grown into a multi-generational operation, exemplifying 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 can now celebrate the success of his 2,100 acre farm and heifer operation with his family, taking stock in what’s truly important.