Westby Cooperative Creamery welcomes new board member
Aug 06, 2019 (Westby, WI)
Donna Leum didn’t grow up on a farm, but 34 years of marriage to a dairy farmer, along with the passion to be involved in her community, has propelled her to serve the Westby Cooperative Creamery Board of Directors as its newest member.
Leum and her husband, Tom, operate a 53-cow dairy on their conventional farm between Viroqua and Westby. They’ve been there since February 1991 – a date that’s hard to forget. “You wouldn’t think moving a farm in February would be ideal, but we were in sweatshirts. It was beautiful,” she said.
Leum grew up in Westby (a city kid) and met her future husband Tom (a farm kid) while in high school. These sweethearts have been together through thick and thin, but Leum admitted she had no idea what she was getting into to start. “I thought I was marrying the person – not the person, the farm, the lifestyle, the occupation and everything goes along with it. You get a whole lot more when you marry a farmer,” she said.
But the challenges of farming have also brought Leum and her family opportunities. She said it’s a wonderful lifestyle for raising a family, and both her adult children remain in dairy agri-business. Her daughter, 28, is a program technician for the FSA/USDA, and her son, 25, works for The Semex Alliance, as their Jersey product development lead.
Leum has worked for Westby Cooperative Creamery on and off for many years. She has supported the retail cheese store during holidays and worked the curd-mobile before it was sold to a private party. She said she is very interested in the Creamery’s strategies and operation and wants to be involved in the cooperative through her seat on the Board of Directors. Leum is also currently the clerk for the Town of Viroqua, which brings perspective and experience to the cooperative.
Part of her perspective on farming, in general, relates to fiscal responsibility. She said that despite the challenges now facing dairy farms – 212 have closed in the State of Wisconsin since Jan. 1, 2019 – Leum said she sees a future in farming supported by those who are financially judicious.
Leum also sits on the Vernon County Fair Board and is secretary/treasurer of the Our Saviors Cemetery Association. She said her favorite activity is spending time with her nine-month-old granddaughter. “That old saying about, ‘If I’d known being a grandparent was so great, I would have done that first…’ You don’t understand it until it happens,” she said.