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Waverly are farmer...

Pat Bakeberg looks toward the future

By Ed DuBois

As all farmers know, there is always plenty of work to do at home in the barn or in the fields, but farmers like Pat Bakeberg somehow find the time to get involved with the farm community at several levels.

This involvement has led to some honors for Pat, the most recent of which involved competing in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Achievement Award competition and advancing to the national competition after winning the Achievement Award contest at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) competition held in November.  Pat attended the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention held in San Diego, Calif. from Jan. 9-13.

A son of Butch and Faye Bakeberg, Pat, 30, works with his parents at their rural Waverly dairy operation, Goldview Farms.  The youngest of five, he said his brothers and sisters, Cindy, David, Tim, and Mary, still get home now and then to help out, even though they have jobs and families in various places away from where they grew up.

Pat stayed home on the farm and is now fully involved with both the work on the farm and the decision making.  He mentioned that just a decade ago, about 70 cows were being milked.  That number has grown steadily and now stands at about 120.


Farm community

Pat handles the morning milking.  He has some hired help taking care of most of the evening milking.  That frees up some time to get involved with the Wright County Farm Bureau, as well as serving as a divisional vice president with the company that processes milk from Goldview Farms, Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI).

Additionally, Pat has stayed involved with the local FFA chapter and the 4-H club.  He likes working with the kids and going with them to state and national conventions.

"I am good friends with my mentor in FFA, Jim Weninger (the teacher/adviser for FFA at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) High School)," Pat said.  "He came here in 1984, the year I was born."

Through 4-H, as well as through his dad's service on the Wright County Fair Board, Pat has been helping every summer at the County Fair.  He likes to help with the dairy show, plus the combine demolition derby and FFA activities.  His dad is involved with the tractor pull and mud racing, among many other things.

"We literally live at the Fair, and somehow we get home long enough to take care of the chores," Pat commented.


First time applied

His Farm Bureau involvement led to his Achievement Award.

"Wright County Farm Bureau asked me to compete at the state level," Pat said.

This year was the first in which he applied, and he ended up in first place.

The Achievement Award contestants are selected on their exceptional efforts in agriculture through farm management and leadership achievements, as well as effective use of capital in their farming operation, according to Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Asked about some of the challenges of operating a dairy farm, Pat listed three.  The first challenge, in his opinion, is not having a stable milk price.  The amount farmers get for their milk can fluctuate greatly.

The second challenge is keeping up to date with all the new technology and advancements in the dairy industry.

Thirdly, educating the general public about animal welfare and how much farmers really do care for the animals and land is a challenge.


Breakfast on the Farm

The Bakeberg family helped with that last challenge by establishing the annual Breakfast on the Farm event, which as been a great asset in regard to educating the public, Pat said.  His family hosted the event during its first five years, and this year it was hosted by Charles Krause of rural Buffalo and his family.

Pat said one other challenge he sees in the dairy field is finding reliable help.

"Fortunately, I have great hired help and have not experienced this (problem)," he commented.

It was nice knowing he had people he could count on to take care of the farm while he attended the national convention in San Diego.


Fun in San Diego

He mentioned that ten competitors for the national Achievement Award were selected for interviews.  He was not one of the top ten people selected, but he did not mind.  Getting a chance to win a brand new pickup truck would have been nice, but not being interviewed meant he had more time for activities in the San Diego area.

The sun was shining, and the temperatures were in the 60s and 70s.  He saw Sea World, navy ships and the USS Midway.  He spent some time at Coronado Beach.

He recalled that a taxi driver had the heat cranked up, but Pat and a few others from cold weather states were comfortable wearing shorts.

He enjoyed a three-hour whale watching boat trip and saw dolphins swimming alongside the craft.

"The boat could hold 400 passenger, but there were only 30 of us so we had plenty of room to see the whales," Pat recalled.


Going to Washington, D.C.

Minnesota Farm Bureau says nearly 60 Farm Bureau members from Minnesota were among 4,500 Farm Bureau members representing each state and Puerto Rico at the AFBF Annual Convention.  The event featured workshops and seminars, as well as a national resolutions session that set policies for the upcoming year.

In September, Pat will be going to Washington, D.C. on a leadership development trip.

A graduate from HLWW High School in 2002, he studied farm operations and management, plus dairy production, at Ridgewater College in Willmar.  He has been involved with Wright County Farm Bureau about ten years and is serving as the vice president.

"Dan Glessing (a fellow Wright County farmer who was recently elected state vice president) got me started," Pat said.

Besides the Achievement Award, a few other honors received by Pat include 2004 Outstanding FFA Alumni Member and 2002 FFA Star Farmer Finalist.


Robotic milking

Some of his goals for the future include serving on the corporate board of AMPI.  He mentioned that the company is a major producer of butter, as well as 600-pound cheddar cheese blocks.  McDonald's is one of the biggest customers of AMPI, he also mentioned.

Another goal involves automation.

"I am thinking about someday getting a robotic milking system," Pat said.

Amazingly, machines that can milk cows are now available.

For now, Pat is taking care of the morning milking without a robot.

As all farmers know, there is always plenty of work to do at home in the barn or in the fields.  Some farmers somehow find time to do much more.


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