Duane Hinchley, like many dairy farmers in Wisconsin, is trying to stay optimistic under the compounding stress of Mother Nature and market forces, but he has something else to be even more optimistic about — something that most farmers don’t — a successor.
Hinchely’s, daughter, Anna, plans to return to the farm after she graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in dairy science next spring. While most farm kids aren’t coming back to the farm after pursuing higher education, Anna considers herself lucky to have the opportunity.
“I was lucky enough [my parents] invested in getting milking robots, so I don’t have to work as hard as they did,” Anna said. “My mom was milking nine hours a day and there’s no way I want to do that and, obviously, other people my age don’t want to do that either.”
The milking robots will allow Anna to spend more time managing the diary herd and advocating for agriculture. Hinchley’s Dairy Farm offers tours to give the public the opportunity to learn about one of Wisconsin’s biggest industries.
“It’s just gonna be me, and hopefully I find a farmer who will [want to] do this with me,” Ann said.