WisBusiness: the Podcast with Brad Olson, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation

This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Brad Olson, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. 

Olson was announced as the group’s new leader last month. A member of the Polk-Burnett Farm Bureau, he farms more than 600 acres of crops in Polk County. Olson says it’s “an honor and a privilege” to be named president of the WFBF. 

The discussion touches on his goals in the position and how Wisconsin farmers fared over the past year, as well as the history of Olson’s family farm. It had about 40 dairy cows up until October 2022, when the operation transitioned to crop farming only. 

“I’ve been there my whole life,” he said. “We’ve been there some over 100 years as a family, so when the cows left a year ago in October, that was the first time in 100 years that cows hadn’t been milked on our farm. We’ve been there ever since grandpa moved here from Norway.” 

Despite widespread dry conditions in 2023, Olson says many farmers in the state had a better harvest than expected. 

“For most of us across the state, it was a pretty good crop for the weather conditions that we had … We’re surprised at what we got, we’re happy with what we got,” he said. “We would have liked more, of course, but that’s every year no matter how good it is.” 

But he also said “it has been extremely tough” for dairy farmers, pointing to lower milk prices as the top factor. He expressed concern about the dwindling number of dairy farmers in the state, which was around 5,600 at the end of 2023. 

“That needs to be a major concern for everybody out there,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast below, sponsored by UW-Madison: