New Funding Options

We all have those projects that get put off for another day but maybe this is one of those programs that could help your dairy farm bring in the extra cash to get it started? 

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/dairy-margin-coverage-program/index

Could this be the “cost share funding” you’ve been waiting for that could help start the planning and design process for your new barn, manure storage, or separation facility? 

We’d love to help you realize your vision for your farm utilizing this or any other funding option – just give us a call! 

Are You Ready for your Next Inspection?

On-site inspections by agencies like the County, DNR, MPCA or EPA can happen at any time, especially close to your permit renewal date. A little preparation can help that surprise inspection at your farm go much smoother.

This article from Manure Manager Magazine gives some good recommendations: on questions to ask your inspector, information that may (or may not) be available to them, and some other points to help you before, during, and after any inspection.

Even if you’ve never worked with Williams Engineering Services or we’ve never visited your farm before, Williams Engineering Services can help your facility work through inspection and compliance at any stage in the process. It’s a small world and you might be amazed by what we already know about your farm.

We do recommend having an engineering consultant on-site during the farm’s on-site compliance inspection, whenever possible, in order to:

  1. Demonstrate your ability to provide both an immediate and follow-up response to items presented by the inspector,
  2. Illustrate your commitment to the quality of your farm and how it is presented, and
  3. Show that you take the inspection of your farm very seriously.

Having an experienced consultant on-site during the inspection can help you better react to inspector questions and address concerns before they become a written violation. Having an engineer at your side can also keep the inspector accountable so that the discussed topics and issues are limited to only those items that are relevant and enforceable. The last thing a farmer wants are inspection notes with incorrect information (or even false allegations about the farm) written into a violation letter that becomes public information.

Our professional staff at Williams Engineering Services have experience being  inspectors. We have reviewed hundreds of facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and are familiar with the current rules and regulations that apply to your farm now and in the future. We have years of experience working with and being those government officials at all levels and can help you better understand how to navigate governmental policies.

At Williams Engineering Services, we will do our best to work with you at any time day or night, including inspection time, on the farm. Give us a call today at 715-829-3231 and we’d be happy to help you start preparing for your next inspection (or reacting to the letter if that is where you are).

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

Calculating…Farming Smarter

You know you work for an engineering firm when you start calculating stuff for fun!

Our water fountain calculates how many water bottles we save by using it instead of buying a bottle of water. The digital display is 8 numbers long, so eventually we could ‘max out the display’.

The post it reads: “At our current rate of saving bottles, we are on pace to max out the display (ie. 99,999,999 bottles) by the year 41,623.”

Our detail guy Jeff helped point out that we don’t have to worry about running out of space on our drinking fountain display.  How cool is it that we can track this kind of thing and make projections using known data for our specific location.

This example really is kind of a silly calculation; but, on farms there are always times when you can use data to make calculations and projections that help you ensure efficiency, compile reports, plan for replacements, and even ensure a sustainable operation over the long term. 

Why wouldn’t you want to get a leg up by farming smarter? 

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

Can Your Dairy Farm Benefit From Market Trends?

Markets can drive the decisions you make on your farm.  This is especially true in dairy farming… even if you reduce your input costs, how do you know that you can sell your product for a fair price? 

Understanding that dairy product export markets can vary depending on the policies and trade agreements of the moment, you might be looking at options to sustain a profitable farm right in your community.

Many farming organizations have recently re-affirmed the need to sustain a viable dairy economy in our country with phrases like “Dairy Supply Management” frequently being discussed in the industry.  Efforts like the Dairy Together initiative are also encouraging a continued discussion in order to ensure that dairy farms remain a vital part of our rural communities.

Whether adding cows to your farm is part of your story or not, a little ingenuity and invention can help create a vision for your farm which will allow you to sustain a thriving agricultural business.

Williams Engineering Services, LLC (WES) has the specialized expertise you need so that your farm can prepare for and benefit from the anticipated dairy market improvements that we’re already starting to hear about. By working together with your team and by utilizing your unique management approach, WES can help develop a plan and design concept customized for your specific site so that your dairy farm can achieve continued success in your community for many years to come.

Give Williams Engineering Services a call at 715-286-5726 to discuss the possibilities for your dairy farm in Wisconsin or Minnesota.  

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

Dangerous Weather for Farmers

Driving to work today, it almost looked like fog — until I saw smoke go up…and then sideways. This is a weather inversion, and it can be deadly for farmers.

If farmers see this kind of thing happening, it’s a really bad day to agitate their manure ponds.  I know that I could smell the farm and wood smoke a little stronger in Augusta as I was walking into the office this morning (which makes sense cause all that stuff is trapped close to the surface).

So I guess you can actually see air quality in this case… I’ve often seen the Twin Cities issue Air Quality alerts on days like today.

Your science lesson for today:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inversion_(meteorology)

While it’s fascinating to see a weather inversion, I hope that our farmers stay safe today.

Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

 

Responsibility

When you’re a farmer, everything but the weather is your responsibility. You’re in charge of the cows, the barn, getting the chickens out of bed.

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Ok, so not the chickens.

Still, when the storm hits, you don’t get to say — well, my job starts at 8 a.m., so I’ll get to it then…you have to get up now and take care of things. It’s your job.

At my job, my responsibility covers a lot of things that might not seem to go together. Telling stories about what we do, encouraging our staff, making sure the numbers add up right. Sometimes in the day-to-day, it can be easy to miss what the real target is — why I go to work each day.

That’s why I love that one of the things I do is keep our ‘reason why’ in sight.

Why we do what we do…

It’s our responsibility to help our farmers improve their farms. It’s our responsibility to smooth the way, so the government stuff has all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. It’s our responsibility (and our privilege) to help you build a farm to pass down to your children.

Some heavy responsibility — but it feels great.

Leaving a Legacy

Farmers are a unique people. They live on the land. They have a connection to the earth.

When they talk about their farm, you can hear the pride in their voice. This is not just a business or a way of life (although it certainly is those things), but it’s also their family legacy. 

In today’s world it can be easy to not SEE the farms. Many of us live in town. We drive by fields of corn and cows and barns, but do we see what is really there? It’s tradition. It’s generational.

I’m inspired by this vision of a legacy. What sort of legacy do I want to leave at work?

If I do my job well, not only will my co-workers be inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and happy to work with me, but they’ll be more effective, too. They’ll be confident knowing that I am also doing my best.

What is really there? It’s more than management, engineering, drafting, and filing forms.

If I remember that I’m leaving a legacy, I have to also look at the farmers that we serve. Because of what I do, their farms will grow for another generation of farmers after them. Because I work hard for accuracy, completeness, and quality, these farmers and their families can go to work and not worry. Not worry. Not lay awake at night thinking about forms and regulations and project coordination, contractors, earth movers, and hundreds of phone calls.

Thanks to all those farmers for the inspiration to leave something behind worth having.