Klinkner Legacy Built on Family, Faith and Farming
I am Ben Klinkner, and I am the proud co-owner and operator of our beautiful family-owned farm that sits right outside of Cashton, Wisconsin. The farm has been in the Klinkner family for over a hundred years and is currently shared between my parents, Paul and Geralyn, and my wife, Erin, and I. We have three generations of dairy farmers on our farm. My parents are the 5th generation, my wife and I make up the 6th generation, and our four children make up the 7th generation.
As you can see, we come from a long line of hard-working dairy farmers. We have been farming together since I was old enough to remember. I grew up working on my parents’ farm until I moved away to attend college at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I was convinced I would never milk a cow again, but a couple of short weeks later I was back at it on the University farm.
After earning my bachelor’s degree in animal science, I continued my education at the North Dakota State University-Fargo where I completed my master’s degree in animal science.
Like any young adult in their 20s, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My father presented the option of moving back to the farm to help carry out daily operations and keep the farm in the family. There was plenty of room to come back and start my own family, so with my wife Erin by my side, we made the decision to continue farming. We married in August of 2013 and soon began our life in dairy farming that September.
I have found that there are three key components to our operations: family, faith and farming. We would not be able to do what we do without any one aspect. I am so blessed to have a career that allows me to work alongside my family day in and day out. To build this legacy together and put our faith into it is something I will always take pride in.
Our farm is roughly 300 acres with an average of 60 cows, most of which are Holsteins. Located right next to our farm is my uncle’s and cousin’s farms. Though we all have our own separate cows to raise and fields to take care of, we share equipment and resources between farms, and we are always there to support and help each other out whenever necessary.
Our farm continues to grow throughout the family. In 2014, my dad and uncle, Gerald, purchased another farm that added to the shared acres between our families. Then about a year later, we decided to expand our own dairy barn to better support our two families.
We have been proudly working with Westby Creamery since the 90s when our farms were producing conventional milk. In 2000, we converted our operations to certified organic. However, at that time Westby Creamery was still strictly conventional. When the creamery started including their organic line of products we began working with them again in 2007 and have continued since.
Dairy farming is a 24/7 365-day operation and it’s not meant for just anyone. It takes an immense amount of care, time and dedication. Livestock and land carry a lot of responsibilities and we want to make sure we are doing it right. Like most industries, it is ever-changing and requires continuous learning, which is why we like to take advantage of any workshops in the area to keep us operating at the best of our abilities.
The work put into our farms is enduring but incredibly rewarding. We have seen first-hand how farming has positively shaped us as individuals. It has instilled a strong work ethic and a deeper appreciation for the land and environment around us. We are grateful to come from several generations of farmers and hope to continue our legacy for many years to come.