The calf barn at Lisowe Acres LLC is equipped with automated feeders and timers for ventilation and lighting at Rosie Lisowe’s family’s dairy farm near Chilton, Wisconsin.
The calf barn at Lisowe Acres LLC is equipped with automated feeders and timers for ventilation and lighting at Rosie Lisowe’s family’s dairy farm near Chilton, Wisconsin. PHOTO BY STACEY SMART
    CHILTON, Wis. – Rosie Lisowe, a dairy farmer from Chilton, was recently nominated president- elect of the Wisconsin Beef Council. Lisowe has spent five years on the council’s board of directors and represents the Wisconsin Farm Bureau of which she has been a member for eight years.
    “I really enjoy being a part of the beef council as it intertwines both the dairy and beef industries,” Lisowe said. “Both pay the checkoff dollar when selling an animal for beef, and we’re all working for the same thing – to promote the agriculture industry.”
    The dairy industry plays a prominent role in filling U.S. beef demand. According to an article in Drovers magazine, 21% of the U.S. beef supply came from dairy cattle in 2018. Lisowe said Wisconsin contributes a significant amount.
    “Dairy cattle produce a good meat,” Lisowe said.
    The Wisconsin Beef Council is a producer-directed not-for-profit organization with a purpose of funding beef promotion, research and consumer education activities that support Wisconsin’s $2.1 billion beef industry. The council operates under the guidance of its board of directors which is comprised of 23 representatives from state cattle organizations. Board members directly pay the checkoff or collect checkoff remittance.
    “Being on the beef council board has opened me up to what this organization does,” Lisowe said. “They promote the industry through a variety of programs, such as Ag in the Classroom, Farm to Fork and providing recipes for television. People are looking for information and want to know how things are done, and we work with a lot of people outside the field. Farm to Fork is especially enlightening as it guides dietitians, culinary students and others through the entire food preparation process – beginning at the farm and following it through to the making of the food.”
    Lisowe comes from a 900-cow dairy, Lisowe Acres LLC, which was created in 2006 when brothers, Jerry, Jim, Joe (Lisowe’s husband), Ambrose Jr. and Chuck merged their individual herds into one. Each brother brought 60 cows with him and more were purchased to bring cow numbers up to 500 at the time. Even before they were one entity, the brothers pooled resources – everything from equipment to pay checks – and did all field work together.
    The Lisowes built a freestall barn and double-16 parallel parlor when joining herds. They started housing heifers at the four farms and over time moved all animals to the main farm. They built a small heifer barn and then added a larger heifer barn four years ago as well as a composter. Two years ago, they built a calf barn equipped with automated feeders.  
    We continuously try to improve our farm operation,” Lisowe said. “Our cattle are our business partners. We take care of them, and they take care of us.”
    The Lisowes farm 1,700 acres and raise all their own feed. A third generation – John, Jenny and Luke (Rosie’s son) – has entered the operation as partners, and T.J., a member of the fourth generation, also works on the farm. Lisowe’s in-laws, Ambrose and Lorna, started the dairy many years ago.
    “Ambrose was a forward-thinker who wanted his boys to farm and have a good life,” Lisowe said. “We wouldn’t have what we have today if it wasn’t for him.”
    When it comes to spending the checkoff dollar, the beef council board decides how the money should be allocated among the programs it supports. Wisconsin keeps half of the checkoff dollar for local beef promotion while the other 50 cents goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for beef demand-building programs that are carried out by national contractors.
    “We use the money as wisely as we can and stretch the 50 cents to get the best value possible,” Lisowe said. “Educating and informing people about beef is a big part of the beef council’s job. For example, we teach consumers about different cuts of meat because people don’t always know that top sirloin is great for a stir fry or that arm roast in the chuck roast family makes a great  roast.”
    Before the family’s farms combined, Lisowe milked cows every day along with doing chores. Now, her role is one of advocacy through her work with the Farm Bureau and beef council. In addition, she will soon be doing the books for Lisowe Acres full time.
    “It was a nice surprise becoming president-elect,” said Lisowe, who will assume her presidential duties in September 2021. “For me, being a member of the Wisconsin Beef Council is a great way to bridge dairy and beef together. I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the beef industry and have a voice at the table. There’s a lot of value in working together. We have similar issues, and we can learn a lot from each other.”