Torgerson’s Viroqua organic farm hosts Vernon County Dairy Breakfast
This year’s event was held at the Torgerson farm located a short drive outside of downtown Viroqua, people attended this year’s event that featured kid activities, live music from local artists ‘The Lovelys’, a grilled cheese contest, and tractors on display that were part of the Bill Ripley Jr. Memorial Ride. I would be remiss not to mention the traditional breakfast of eggs, sausage, pancakes, yogurt and of course milk served to guests.
Currently an organic operation, the Torgersons sell their milk to Westby Creamery, and are hoping the decision to go organic will help them realize a profit in a market that has continued to see milk prices drop.
Milking 40 head and having an additional 80-90 head on the farm, the Torgersons were approached by the one of the dairy promotion staff, and after a few requests, decided that it could be a great way to promote their effort in going organic.
“This gives me something to look forward to”, Dale Torgerson said referring to his grave concern for the future of his farm. Dale admitted that until going organic and the opportunity for his family to host the dairy breakfast, had been depressed and not feeling ambitious about his daily work around the farm.
“We are hoping that going organic, the price we will receive will be better.”, Dale’s wife Brenda said, and added, “We haven’t gotten our first milk check yet so we don’t know how that will affect us. It’s virtual double the price of what conventional milk is.” The Torgersons hope that they will be able to offset some of their bills and get caught up, but acknowledge it has been a struggle.
Helping to make ends meet, Brenda also works two jobs, a full-time job at the hospital for the past 29 years, and almost full-time job at Liberty Bar. She picked up the latter about 3 ½ years ago when they started to struggle with the dropping milk prices. “It is my husbands family farm and I want him to be here as long as he can, and told him I would do anything I could to get us by.” She said in earnest.
The Viroqua Fire Department, and Vernon County Emergency Services, in addition to Gundersen Health Services Flight for Life Helicopter, were big draws for the kids, and helped show the dedication that the community has in supporting vital events such as the annual dairy breakfast.
The introduction of the two new Vernon County Dairy Youth Ambassadors took place during the dairy breakfast on Saturday morning, as Ty Harbaugh and Erin Torgerson were selected to serve as the Dairy Youth Ambassadors. The Dairy Youth Ambassadors will spend the next year promoting and educating the public about the dairy industry in Vernon County. The Vernon County Dairy Promotion Committee transitioned the long-time dairy princess program into a youth ambassador program to better develop the future leaders of our dairy industry.
Dairy Royalty was represented at the event by Vernon County Fairest of Fair Aleda Primmer, 2019 Dairy Ambassador- Ty Harbaugh, 2019 Dairy Ambassador-Erin Torgerson, 2018 Dairy Vernon County Queen-Amber Keenan, 2018 Vernon County Dairy Princess-Miranda Ingles, 2019 Syttende Mai Princess-Haley Hagen, and 2019 Syttende Mai 1st Attendant-Sedona Radke.
With the whole family pitching in, and their daughter Erin one of the new Dairy Ambassadors, the future looks bright for the Torgersons.
The Torgerson Organic Farm- A brief History provided by the family
The Torgerson family history starts back in 1943 when Dale’s grandfather, Selmer Torgerson purchased the farm. Selmer passed away at the young age of 43. Dale’s father Roger then took over the farm until his passing at the young age of 55. Dale then took over and continues that family farming tradition today milking 40 cows with his wife Brenda and his 3 daughters: Erin- 15, Katy- 11, and Myle- 9.
For the Torgerson family, perseverance through painful times has been vital, the dairy farming life could have all been taken away back on February 12, 2011. Dale became very ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre is a rare syndrome, when a person’s own immune system attacks its peripheral nervous system and causes paralysis of the entire body. Dale spend 62 days at Gunderson Health System in LaCrosse, WI and many hours in rehabilitation after returning home at Vernon Memorial Therapy Department in Viroqua, WI. With the great support of family, friends, neighbors, and community, Dale was able to recover from his illness and get back to farming again.
Dale and Brenda work together to support the farm during these tough economic times. Dale manages the farm, milks the cows, works in construction, and runs a combining business in the fall. Brenda works two jobs off the farm, at Vernon Memorial Healthcare and Liberty Bar and Grill. Brenda fills in milking the cows for Dale during the fall harvest. Dale and Brenda’s daughters help on the farm also. Erin is a tried and true farm girl; she cuts hay, moves round bales and feeds calves. Her off the farm activities include FFA, 4H, showing cattle at the Vernon County Fair, and gymnastics. Katy likes to help inside the home, like her Dad says, “She is a girl that lives on a farm, not a farm girl”, but she does help pick rock and mows the yard. Myle loves to tie up the cows and go on Kubota rides.
If you would like to have a dairy youth ambassador at your event, please contact the Vernon County Extension Office at (608) 637-5276.