Jeremy Nennig
Ogdensburg, Wisconsin
Waupaca County
42 cows
How did you get into farming? I began part-time farm jobs in high school at age 15. In 2010, I applied to manage a farm as an employee with the intentions of purchasing. During my employment, we transitioned the farm to organic, and I purchased the farm in 2014.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The consolidation of processors, equipment dealers and even co-ops is a big concern. Keeping our food processors small and local makes more sense from a food quality and supply standpoint. As equipment dealers consolidate, competition becomes non-existent.

What is a recent change you made on your farm and the reason for it? Last fall, I decided not to harvest any corn silage. The cows are fed legume grass haylage, dry hay and dry ground corn. It allowed me to remove organic soybean meal from the ration while maintaining my modest production goals and actually increasing as we have learned to feed without corn silage. Organic soy is at record-high prices, so to not purchase that was huge.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Problem solving and critical thinking are skills every farmer needs to possess. Problem solving comes up on a daily basis. We all know that things almost never go to plan, and we have to improvise in many ways to complete whatever task is at hand. Also, critical thinking ties into the problem solving, as we have to be planning for tomorrow, next week and even six to 12 months ahead in many situations.

What is the best decision you have made on your farm? Using the Natural Resources Conservation Service to set up grazing lanes and get proper fencing has been huge. It has made grazing so much more enjoyable, efficient and easier to manage.
What are three things on the farm that you cannot live without? God, family and good weather. These are the three things that make life better for me.

What strategies do you use to withstand the volatile milk prices? Being organic has stabilized the milk price. Our co-op has a quota system, and the supply management has helped stabilize and maintain a consistent price. Though I wish it were higher.
How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? I get part-time help with crop planting and harvesting. It’s pretty easy to maintain relationships because they aren’t here every day, and the people who do help enjoy it.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? The change of pace every day. No two days are ever the same.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Considering there are many different ways to farm, embrace what works for you and your operation and enjoy it.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? I don’t have a lot of big plans at this point. Loose housing would be something I’d like in the future.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Unfortunately, at this point in our journey, we don’t do a lot off the farm. Spending a random 15-20 minutes playing with the kids is enjoyable. Otherwise, holidays and scheduled events are about the extent of our off-farm fun.