Next generation of farmers determined to keep tradition going - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Next generation of farmers determined to keep tradition going

MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) - The future of farming in the state isn't looking so bright. A new report from the Census of Agriculture shows Wisconsin has lost thousands of farms in the past few years.

D.C. Everest junior Ryan Prieve knows what it's like to work on a farm.

"My family's been in a dairy farm since for five generations,” said Prieve. “Now me and my cousins are fifth generation."

He wants to keep the farm going.

"I’ve been working there for three years now full time almost every day, and then a summer job since I was nine and I just love doing it," said Prieve.

He takes Agriscience classes at school to learn more. But his teacher says he's one of the only ones left.

"The enrollment in school of farm students has gone down dramatically," said John Glynn, an Agriscience teacher at D.C. Everest High School.

As enrollment goes down, the number of farms do too. The U.S.D.A. reports the loss of farms and land in Wisconsin is one of biggest in the country.

"I’ve been farming for 10 years and just have seen dozens of my neighbors go out of business," said Paul Nehring, the owner of Newgrass Farm in Wausau.

The owner says he blames a combination of cost and improper training.

"The big farmers are getting bigger, and they're not taking the time to bring in that next generation," said Nehring.

But some of the next generation appears ready to take on the challenge.

"It's a seven day commitment, and if you don't want to commit to seven days a week getting up at four in the morning or three in the morning to do it than you can't do it," said Prieve.

Prieve says he's ready to do it.

"Farming is a good way of life,” said Prieve. “It gives you many different aspects in life like what hard work actually is."

Despite the negative outlook, he says he'll put the hard work in and keep the family tradition alive.

Even though the number of farms has fallen, Wisconsin is still in the top ten of agriculture sales in the country.

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