A sustainable farming future

Fahey wins FFA organic agriculture proficiency

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EDGAR, Wis. – The simplicity of organic dairy production is what really appeals to 18-year-old Austin Fahey of Edgar.
Fahey based his FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience on his involvement in his family’s organic dairy farm, and for his efforts, he was selected as the winner of the Wisconsin FFA State Organic Agriculture Proficiency. Fahey was recognized during the Wisconsin FFA State Convention June 14  in Madison, Wisconsin.
Fahey and his parents, Jim and Tammy, milk 38 registered Holsteins on their Marathon County farm, where they farm 120 acres for feed. They have 40 acres of pasture to rotationally graze their herd and have another 60 acres of wooded pasture where their heifers graze. Jim transitioned the  farm to organic production in 2009.
“I haven’t ever really known anything other than organic dairy production,” Fahey said. “I like the simplicity of organic agriculture. Not using antibiotics on the cows or chemicals on the field, it just feels like farming the way it used to be.”
A 2022 graduate of Edgar High School, Fahey attends Fox Valley Technical College to complete a certificate in small engine mechanics. He plans to return to the family farm and open a small engine repair shop. Jim and Tammy hold off-farm jobs as well.
While he has been working on his SAE since he was in middle school, this year marked the first time Fahey submitted an application for a state proficiency award.
“I did a youth apprenticeship program through school, working on the farm for credit,” Fahey said. “My advisor, Mr. Reinders, told me that since I was doing the work I should apply. I was surprised I won. It was kind of neat, and it earned me a trip to Madison for the state FFA convention.”
Fahey was a member of the Edgar FFA Chapter and served as the chapter sentinel and treasurer.
“We have a really active chapter,” he said. “I learned a lot of about responsibility and leadership as an FFA member. I made a lot of really good friends as an FFA member too.”
Fahey would advise younger students to take a more proactive approach to filling out the FFA proficiency award.
“I think if you started doing the paperwork and keeping track right away your freshman year, doing the proficiency application would be easier each year as you are just adding to it and updating it,” Fahey said. “You can really see how your SAE has grown and developed when you sit down and complete the application.”
Outside of school, Fahey has been a member of a local snowmobiling club for several years and is also a member of the Marathon County Holstein Breeders.
Working on his family’s farm, Fahey is involved with all areas of management including milking, herd health, heat detection and fieldwork. After he returns to the farm, he plans to be trained in A.I.
Fahey enjoys making mating decisions and studying genetics. He said the Mr. Chassity Gold Chip daughters are his favorite cows in the herd.
When Fahey joins his family on the farm, he and his parents plan to slowly work into a partnership. Fahey said he will eventually take over the farm.
Fahey hopes to increase the herd by about a half dozen cows and purchase additional land to grow all of the feed needed for the herd. Currently, most of the corn in the ration is purchased.
Fahey credits his dad as being his greatest mentor not only in the dairy industry but in life in general.
“My dad has taught me the value of hard work,” he said. “He has taught me to be patient and not rush things, to take my time and do things right the first time.”

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