5 questions with ... Wanda Patsche, Welcome, Minn., pig, corn and soybean farmer
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?
As someone who did not grow up on a farm and never imagined living on a farm, I am so very blessed for the path God led me down. My initial knowledge and appreciation of agriculture came through the eyes of watching my husband, whose passion for farming is off the charts. I am a much stronger person today because of agriculture. That strength has come from living a farm life that includes volatility and sometimes adversity but also knowing we are feeding others. There truly is no other life I could have asked for that would have given me more joy and satisfaction than working and living on the farm.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today?
My role in agriculture consists of two parts. On the farm, I help with field work in the spring and fall. During spring, I run the field cultivator to work up the soils ahead of the planter. In the fall, I am the combine operator and also do tillage. In addition to the field work, I also do all the accounting and recordkeeping. Off the farm, I am very involved in agricultural advocacy activities. I am on the Minnesota Pork Board, volunteer for CommonGround, our county corn and soybean board, township board and Farm Bureau. Locally, I am involved in a farm-to-table event and county ag tour. I am also very active in social media where I am a blogger with the goal of bridging non-ag consumers to the people who grow and raise their food.
Q: Most people engaging on ag issues and sharing about farm life in social media are in a younger demographic than you. Why is it important to you to engage on issues and show your farm to others, online and offline?
I truly believe we need all farmer demographics to show others what we do on our farms. Demographics that include geography, farm type, farm size, culture, gender and age. Just as I learn from younger farmers about their perspectives and knowledge, I can offer wisdom and insights based on past experiences. Looking at the big picture, consumers have lost their connection to where their food comes from. Engaging with others, both online and offline, helps to bridge those gaps and provides the transparency today's consumers want.
Q: What is a challenge that keeps you up at night and do you have ideas or a solution to address it?
There isn't much that keeps me up at night, but one topic that has me very concerned is the high cost of health insurance, specifically in the individual market. Health care and health insurance is a complex issue, and I wish I had a solution. One new approach to health care is "direct primary care contracts." They are starting to emerge as a possible alternative solution to the high cost of medical care insurance. It is a topic I wish to explore and learn more about. I truly believe that we need to think outside the box in order to find health care solutions and this model may show some promise.
Q: What excites you about your community?
The more I live in rural Minnesota and in a small community, the more I love living here! I love the passion I see continually from people who are excited about their communities. I love seeing what people can accomplish by coming together and finding ways to improve their communities. And I love being part of those accomplishments.
Patsche and her husband, Chuck, raise pigs, corn and soybeans and have three daughters and six grandchildren. Their family was the 2012 Minnesota Pork Farm Family of the Year and Wanda was the 2015 Pork Promoter of the Year. She is also a recent Minnesota Agriculture Rural Leadership graduate. Wanda shows her passion for agriculture through her blog, Minnesota Farm Living. Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at @MNFarmLiving.