Introduced more than four decades ago, Wisconsin farmers David Kruschke and Carl Casper credit their long-time involvement in Wisconsin Farm Bureau with cementing their friendship.
Kruschke has a dairy farm, which he is expanding to include corn, soybeans, rye, wheat and snap beans. Casper and his parents operated a 44-cow dairy farm. A young cousin and his wife now run the farm but traded the dairy cows for beef cattle.
Both Casper’s and Kruschke’s families were involved in their county Farm Bureaus from the organizations’ start. Kruschke himself is the longest-serving current county Farm Bureau president in the state.
Casper began his own long tenure as a Farm Bureau member at 22, when he was going door-to-door with a former county Farm Bureau president encouraging people to join the organization.
Just before they knocked on the first farmer’s door, the president said, “If you’re going to be on this Farm Bureau membership drive, I think you should be a member yourself.”
“So, I got my billfold out, got my $10 bill out and, bingo, I was a Farm Bureau member. I’ve been a Farm Bureau member for 53 years,” Casper said, emphasizing that as he never married he considers Farm Bureau to be his family.
Since that first membership drive, Casper has been heavily involved in Farm Bureau, serving on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee early on, as well as several other committees. He’s also served as county Farm Bureau president — twice.
Kruschke, who echoed Casper’s sentiments about Farm Bureau being like family, first got involved with Farm Bureau when he applied for what was then known as the Young Farmer Award. Soon after, he attended his first county annual meeting during which he was put on the board. It wasn’t long before he was elected county Farm Bureau president, a post he’s held for 34 years.
Looking at Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s efforts on the legislative front over the past few decades, Kruschke feels the most important issue the group tackled was passage of the state use value assessment law, which helped lower taxes on farmland by taxing at the value of its use, as opposed to its market value if it was sold.
“That has saved farmers, I think, billions of dollars in the last 20 years since it’s been enacted,” he said.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s efforts to educate consumers across the state about farming have also been a great service to agriculture, Kruschke and Casper said. Through displays at state fairs and other educational endeavors, the pair have helped children – and their parents – understand how much water cows drink, the origin of their breakfast corn flakes and much more.
With the American Farm Bureau Federation approaching its centennial in 2019, the organization invited StoryCorps to the 2018 Annual Convention in Nashville to capture Farm Bureau members’ unique stories as only StoryCorps can. This article is based on a StoryCorps interview Carl Casper did with his friend David Kruschke.