Longtime agriculture program moves to UW-River Falls

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 5:23 PM CDT
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RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - The Farming and Industry Short Course is moving to UW-River Falls after over a century at UW-Madison.

Program director Steve Kelm said the hands on learning experience is vital for Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.

“We have to be stewards of taking proper care of the animalsand fulfilling the contract we have with them,” said Kelm.

The 2-year course will teach students the business side of agriculture, and the cow-side of farming. They will be working along side the 120 adult cows for dairy production at Mann Valley Farm, just miles from the university’s campus.

“We have to take proper care of the environment to be good neighbors and take care of our communities. And we have to be good stewards of our business,” said Kelm.

The reason for the move? UW-Madison ended the program in 2022.

The dean of UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Mike Orth, said moving the program to rural Western Wisconsin is for the best.

“We have gotten overwhelming support from people in this region. So we really feel it is it makes a lot of sense for it to be here,” said Orth.

He said the university’s ongoing efforts to connect with local farmers, and the constant requests for workers from those farmers sets the students up for success.

“Being a farmer right now is not for the faint of heart, but we’re in it, right? We are in that area. And I think that really helps,” said Orth.

Kelm agrees students who are in it for the long haul will benefit from the long standing agriculture program at its new home of River Falls.

“We need individuals not only that are willing to step into and work on these farms, The other part is we need individuals that want to step into owning those, and tap into that kind of entrepreneur spirit,” said Kelm.

A state bipartisan bill to support the program with more funding is in the works.

“Whatever we can do to improve the workforce, whatever we can do to increase production and get people really confident in the next steps, and it’s an ever changing industry,” said Republican State Rep. Warren Petryk. “We’re hoping that this will make its way to the governor’s desk for signature as soon as we get it through the hearing process.”

The fall semester will begin October 25th, with applications still being accepted by UW-River Falls. To apply, click here.