100 Beginning Farmers and Mentors Raising Grass-fed Livestock
By Robert Bauer, Grazing Broker
Farmers in Wisconsin are using mentorships to take the next step toward raising grass-fed livestock.
Over 100 farmers and landowners have participated in the Mentorship Program for Future Livestock Farmers through Southwest Badger RC&D over the past 1 1/2 years: 24 mentors and 42 beginners have formally applied to participate in the program, plus the program serves 18 mentor farmers and 47 beginning farmers who have not formally applied.
Bryce Riemer of Brodhead, WI, enrolled in the program in 2016 to work with mentor Jacob Marty of Monticello, WI. Bryce and Jacob worked together on planning the Riemer's grazing system, including navigating the USDA-NRCS's EQIP program and working together to complete installation of pasture fencing and livestock water pipeline. After a successful mentorship experience Bryce decided in 2017 to apply with his wife Jen to mentor Isaac Welsh.
Bryce and Jen operate a diversified livestock farm that includes beef, pork, chicken, and turkeys. They also raise non-GMO feed for the livestock and sell their meat at farmer's markets and direct to customers via drop points in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Isaac Welsh is a sophomore in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and is a member of the collegiate soils team, which placed among the top teams in two national competitions in April 2017. Isaac would like to farm full-time on his grandfather's land in Brodhead when he graduates from university. Through the mentorship program Isaac is completing a summer internship at Riemer Farmily Farm, earning income that he will put toward his college tuition and developing experience with how to raise grass-fed beef and poultry.
Jen says of her experience so-far, "Isaac is an exceptional worker. He's up with the sun to feed the chickens and he stays past dark to make sure all the chores get done. The best part about being a paid mentor in the mentorship program is knowing that we can take time to explain to Isaac how and why we are using managed grazing to raise grass-fed beef. With this internship Isaac is working on the aspects of grazing that he wants to learn including pasture seeding, fencing, and herding livestock."
The mentorship program is currently accepting applications for mentors and beginners. You can also watch a video about Riemer Family Farm at
The Mentorship Program for Future Livestock Farmers is supported by a 2015-2017 BFRDP grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture.