Spend a day (or half) in the saddle to help support CALS beginning farmers program

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers wants to put 100 bicyclists on the road on Saturday, June 11, to support the next generation of farmers.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison program’s eighth annual Ride to Farm fundraiser is recruiting riders for either a 60-mile all-day ride or shorter morning and afternoon rides through the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin. The ride will start and end at Dane County’s Goodland Park with a mid-day stop in New Glarus and rest stops on dairy farms along the way.

Riders must raise at least $50 in tax-deductible pledges for the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF). Riders can visit to register and to solicit and track pledges. Prizes for top fundraisers include two tickets to any show at American Players Theater.

“We hold this event both to raise funds for scholarships and also to raise awareness of the importance of supporting the next generation of innovative farmers,” says Dick Cates, WSBDF co-director.

The event will include two rest stops on picturesque, pasture-based dairy farms, where riders can sample cheese made from the farms’ milk. The morning stop is at the Oregon farm of Tom Grady, a graduate of the WSBDF program. In the afternoon, riders will stop at the farm of Tim Pauli in Belleville.

Riders and their families are invited to pack fixings for a picnic at Goodland Park immediately after the ride. Beverages will be provided.  Riders will also receive free snacks from Organic Valley, a gift certificate from Culvers and a T-shirt from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

The WSBDF is a partnership between the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course, both in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison. The school offers classroom instruction, on-farm internships, business planning and mentoring. More than 400 students have attended the 16-year-old program and more than 75 percent of its graduates are farming.

The curriculum emphasizes managed grazing as a sound financial and environmental choice for beginning dairy and livestock farmers. Instructors include UW-Madison faculty, graduates of the program, mentor farmers, farm lenders and other agribusiness professionals. For more information, visit

Ride to Farm sponsors include American Transmission Co., Culver’s Restaurants, Faith Technologies, Family Dairies USA, Organic Valley Family of Farms, We Energies, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Banjo Cycles will provide tech support for the ride.