Sustainability in agriculture: successes and challenges

Sustainability in agriculture:...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Becky Levzow operates a dairy farm in Rio, Wisconsin. Her family milks more than a hundred cows and farms on 875 acres.

Over the years, she's learned technology makes a big difference in the industry.

"By having our equipment working well, by taking care of our animals, there's a a lot of opportunity there, the technical colleges can educate students and you don't have to come from a farming background," Levzow said.

Western Technical College hosted a sustainability in agriculture event Monday morning to show new practices of farming.

Everything from robotic milkers, to GPS systems for tractors and computer programs for plant growth has helped farmers like Levzow become more efficient.

There are over 60,000 farms in Wisconsin and technology is playing a crucial role in helping farmers keep up with their work.

According to statistics, Wisconsin farms and agricultural businesses generate more than 80 billion dollars in economic activity.

"That is our backbone of our state's economy," Levzow said.

The state's agriculture industry has also created more than 400,000 jobs.

Despite the numbers, there are still challenges many farmers are facing today. Levzow says these include finding a trained workforce with dedication to to providing services.

Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch says a shortage of workers is an issue farmers are dealing with now more than ever.

"We need to not only expect great things from our farmers, but also give them the workforce they need," Kleefisch said.

But she says sustainable agriculture programs like ones at Western Technical are implementing new technologies in hopes to find a solution

"They teach these brand new farming practices to the next generation of agriculture workers and also farm owners."

Levzow says those kinds of programs will also help her farm in the long run.

"It's a tribute to the people that came before me that we see the value of having this as a profession and as a lifestyle."

Monday's event also had informational sessions on beekeeping, farming opportunities and equipment demonstrations.    


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